Santa Rosa County students need more instruction time and college sports


posted on September 29, 2022 by EDITORIAL COMMITTEE

Last week, we revealed that Okaloosa County high school students each school day receive 37 minutes more instructional time than their peers in Santa Rosa County District schools.

Supposedly, Santa Rosa County switched to a six-period schedule and less teaching time to save money. But that didn’t happen.

One of the most obvious reasons seems to be that, despite serving over 2,300 fewer students than Okaloosa County, Santa Rosa spends $18 million more on its ESE staff.

Florida Department of Education records show that in fiscal year 2020-21, according to annual financial reports, Santa Rosa County spent $41.8 million on ESE salaries compared to Okaloosa , which only spent $23.8 million. For what it’s worth, even if it’s apples to oranges due to socio-economic and other variables, Escambia County only spent $26.1 million.

Additionally, the district spent about $3 million on an ESE individual education plan software called Accelify – only to discontinue it after a year. The district then transitioned to using free software through the state of Florida.

It makes me wonder who gets to choose what software is used and whether or not there are any unknown benefits for those people.

After hearing that Santa Rosa County District Schools had spent tens of thousands of dollars to have dozens of staff attend conferences in Orlando this summer, I filed a public records request, asking to take a look at these receipts. The district, instead of providing me with these files for free as the Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners regularly does, said they planned to charge me over $300 to do so, explaining that it would take four hours. to consider a possible draft.

In my experience, this is a huge red flag. Why erect obstacles to the control of taxpayers? Hmmm…..

Anyway, I was told from a reliable source that for a conference the fee was $690 per person and $255 per night for a hotel was paid. If 100 people attended, that’s over $150,000, including per diems and travel expenses.

Coincidentally, this is supposed to be the same price the district would have paid for a new program used to evaluate teachers. This program, I am told, is TOTAL COLOR IN THE ASS to use and has so far resulted in at least four quits.

Believe it or not, a committee of administrators and four teachers had instead recommended that SRCDS purchase a $35,000 program that could emulate PEARS, the teacher evaluation program used previously. However, Dr. Barber reportedly did not want this and went against the committee’s recommendation.

So $300,000 later, here we are…with veteran teachers ready to throw in their towels because:

  • Expensive new teacher assessment program, training required and heavy usage;
  • We have so many more ESE teachers and “teachers on special assignment” (not in a classroom) than Okaloosa County;
  • The inability of the district to obtain adequate replacements, which forces teachers to hire additional students when replacements are not provided;
  • Rank 3 droprd in the state at 14e in the state over the past decade;
  • Much more, which we will discuss in later reports.

Meanwhile, in Okaloosa, they rank higher than our district and spend $18 million less on ESE staff while serving thousands more students, providing them with more instruction time, plus sports. to college. Having a schedule that includes a duty period also improves school safety.

It may be time for a new Superintendent of Schools in 2024. And perhaps that person will replace their ESE Director, move to a seven-period schedule to improve instruction time and academic choices, and fire many “teachers on special assignment” return to a classroom. Just say…

It would also be nice to have someone FDOE doesn’t call for saying a whopper: period-changed-halfway/

For this discussion and more, tune into Santa Rosa LIVE from 7-8 a.m. Friday via


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