By NANCY J. SEMON, The Daily Sun, Dec 17, 2022.
PORT CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte County School Board will be sending a message to Tallahassee about what is needed most in the district.
The board recently discussed Charlotte County Public Schools 2023 legislative platform, including a plan to address a teacher shortage.
The platform will be presented to Charlotte County’s legislative delegation Jan. 11.
Board member Kim Amontree drafted a proposal targeted to attract more teachers to the workforce. Among her concepts is funding an apprenticeship program providing bonuses to experienced educators for mentoring teacher candidates.
Also, post-secondary institutions should be allowed to pay teacher candidates during their student-teaching experience.
“Student teachers get nothing now,” she said.
Reemployment limitations for retirees would be waived or shortened and the Deferred Retirement Option Program would be adjusted in the plan.
Post-secondary institutions would be allowed to compensate teacher candidates during their student teaching, and teachers with associate degrees, a 3.0 grade point average and a background check would be able to receive a temporary certificate and begin student teaching while earning their bachelor’s degree.
On her legislative proposal, Amontree writes that in February the Florida Department of Education projected a need to fill 9,000 teacher vacancies statewide before the end of the year.
The other three items on the district’s legislative agenda concern mental health and safety, funding, and the workforce.
Among the mental health recommendations are increasing funding for more mental health services, hiring additional mental health professionals, implementing new mental health programs, and providing additional training for teachers and staff.
The platform also proposes developing a new, uniform reporting system for disruptive or criminal incidents.
Additional financial investments are also on the 2023 Legislative Platform, including providing support to schools affected by Hurricane Ian, and adding a new Economically Disadvantaged category to provide additional assistance to the district’s economically disadvantaged students.
Finally, the platform proposes increasing workforce paths and funding to expand secondary career and technical programs.
One proposal from Gov. Ron DeSantis to hire veterans as teachers has, according to a report, fallen flat. Despite a big media push, only seven veterans have been hired through the Military Veterans Certification Pathway, according to the website www.military.com.
Florida state Rep. Michael Grant will be meeting with the board members and one member will be given about 3 minutes to talk about what the district needs.
Image Credits: Teachers and students head to the Punta Gorda Middle School main office on the first day of school in Charlotte County. SUN FILE PHOTO