Lake County Schools will host its first summer hiring event Thursday, July 19, at Mount Dora High School from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The event offers candidates the chance to meet with hiring managers for onsite interviews and to ask pertinent questions about prospective career paths, so candidates are encouraged to bring resumes.
As always, LCS is actively seeking certified (or Florida eligible) teachers for core areas such as language arts, math, science, and special education. However, this hiring event will place special emphasis on non-instructional roles within the district. Needs include, but are not limited to, psychologists, teaching assistants, bus drivers, food service assistants, custodians and more. Full-time, part-time and flexible employment positions are available.
“This is the first opportunity for non-instructional candidates to meet with hiring managers before beginning the hiring process,” said Instructional Recruitment Partner Quiana Peterson. Community partners such as Insight Financial and Florida Teachers will also be present to answer any questions candidates may have about benefits or the teacher certification process. “Everyone interested is encouraged to come,” Peterson said.
Advanced registration is recommended but not required. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here. Find out what's happening locally with just a tap on your phone by downloading the area's free mobile app. Free monthly issues of Mount Dora Buzz are available here.
By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
I've selected several items to report on. Remember that I'm only one of seven City Council members and my views don't necessarily reflect the view of City Council as a whole.
The second meeting of each month is actually a "Work Session" beginning at 3:00 followed by a "Regular Meeting" at 6:00. Our Work Session consisted of in depth discussions of four topics. They included the renovation of the playground at Gilbert Park, Cross Connection Controls (back flow prevention) strategies, possible renewal of the Fire Assessment Fee and the ongoing revision of our City Council code of conduct. There were no action items during the Work Session.
The Regular Meeting featured action on lots of resolutions and an important ordinance. I've selected several of the more important items to share with you.
The section of the Gilbert Park playground that was designed to serve kids between ages 5-12 is sometimes called "the castle". It was built in 1990 and has served Mount Dora's children for nearly three decades. It is a wooden structure that is deteriorating despite several rounds of repairs each year and weekly safety inspections. Replacement parts are very hard to find and it has nearly reached the end of its useful life. Because the safety of our children is a top priority, a new playground was approved and should be in place in the fall. About $263,000 to build the new playground will come from the Parks Impact Fee fund. Several council members myself included were concerned about beginning a major project now while we are in the midst of a Parks Master Plan process but in the end, safety trumps other considerations.
We hope to tap the Florida State Revolving Loan Fund to borrow money for four upcoming major water/waste water/reclaimed water projects. If we are successful in being included in the State Revolving Loan Fund distribution list we will pay just a fraction of the interest costs compared with traditional financing. We will be applying for revolving loan funding for an interconnect reclaimed water pipeline with Apopka, relocating utility lines for the Wolf Branch and Round Lake Rd., utility relocations along US 441 from near Renninger's Flea Market to Donnelly St. and for improvements near Waste Water Treatment Plant #1. We should find out if we can get this discount state funding in a couple of months. No increase in our water rates will be needed to pay back these loans.
Work on shoring up and repairing the collapsed roadway on Magnolia Ending which was compromised during Hurricane Irma are in full swing. I'm impressed that thanks to the hard work of our city staff we anticipate receiving about $1.5 million from FEMA and another $215,000 from the state leaving our city to pay about 12.5% ($215,000).
We had our first reading of an ordinance that would provide a $30,000 Ad Valorem Tax Abatement to Steamroller Studios LLC which is an up-and-coming digital media firm that will be moving into the Sunset Building (3rd. & Baker) in the next few months. This tax abatement will help Steamroller afford their office rent for three years while the benefits to our downtown businesses will be many times greater. Several much needed tweaks to the agreement were suggested and will be incorporated into the final version of the ordinance. Steamroller will bring 50 well paying jobs to Mount Dora and future expansion seems likely.
I felt very good about the discussions and cooperation tonight. It seemed to me that we worked as a team with good results.
As we celebrated Fathers Day on Sunday we all thought about our dear old dads. Instead of a quote I'd like to share the wording on a piece of wall art I bought at a Mount Dora gift shop. I don't know the source but I loved the sentiment, "My father didn't tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch".
I'm proud to be a part of your city council. I'm just one member and I don't pretend that what I report to you represents the views of city council as a whole.
Dr. Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
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There's a lot to be happy about at several Lake County Schools. The Florida Department of Education (DOE) released 2018 statewide standardized assessment results this afternoon. Eight of the 10 high schools in Lake showed overall gains on the Florida Standards Assessments compared to last year, as did 8 of the 12 middle schools and 13 of the 26 elementary schools, including charter schools. Among the largest overall increases was Tavares High with a 51 point jump, South Lake High with a 36 point increase and Leesburg High with a 35 point jump. Mount Dora Middle School saw the largest increase, up 53 points compared to last year. Eustis Middle is up 37 points and Tavares Middle is up 25. Cypress Ridge had the largest increase among elementary schools with a 58 point jump. Leesburg Elementary is up 55 points and Treadway Elementary is up 36. Other highlights: ·Leesburg High showed gains of 35 points in Algebra 1 in 2018 compared to 2017 ·Mount Dora Middle showed gains of 33 points in Algebra 1 · Groveland Elementary showed gains of 21 points in Science ·Overall, the district saw a slight increase in scores in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics, a 5 percent increase in Algebra, 3 percent increase in Geometry scores, 3 percent in U.S. History and 5 percent in science.
“We are moving in the right direction,’’ said Emily Weiskopf, Ed.D., the district’s Chief of Transformation. “We still have work to do, but I feel good about where we’re headed.” Scores for individual Lake students are expected to be available in July. Parents will be notified. To view statewide and district-level results, visit the DOE site at this link. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here. To get area's news in your inbox once a month, subscribe to the free month issue of Mount Dora Buzz here.
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Lake County Schools is making technology more accessible for students in classrooms and at home.
The 2018-19 school year will be the start of a five-year plan that will provide every student in grades 3 through 12 use of a Chromebook that will provide access to online textbooks, homework assignments and organizational tools.
Tavares High School will be the first to go all digital, with Chromebooks issued to every Tavares High student. Another high school will follow in November, and two more will be added the second semester. The process will continue over the next five years until all schools are digitally enhanced.
The district piloted the use of Chromebooks in classrooms in the 2017-18 school year. Every AP Human Geography class was given a set for classroom use. Lessons were uploaded to the computers, and students used Google Apps for Education to complete assignments, collaborate and create. Teachers were able to monitor their work, give feedback and assess each student’s contribution to a project.
The Digital Discovery Classroom pilot was so successful that schools began to purchase Chromebooks for other classrooms. The district went from a purchase of 300 Chromebooks in December to having more than 5,000 in June.
“We are not trying to replace instruction by the teacher, we’re trying to amplify it,’’ said Duane Weeks, the district’s supervisor of Instructional Technology. “We are giving a technological advantage to the teacher. There is no computer program going along with this to teach kids. Instead, this is a way to engage students, to allow them to work better together using contemporary tools to solve real world problems.”
Under the old plan, computers stayed in the classroom. With this next level of digital accessibility, students will be assigned a Chromebook to use in classes and at home.
Students will have many helpful resources in one location. From the portal, they will be able to access all of their Google classrooms, textbooks and Skyward so they can keep track of their grades. They will be able to complete and submit assignments electronically. They also will have access to the Google calendar and a to-do list to help with time management.
Another benefit will be realized during standardized testing time. Currently, students take turns using a limited number of computers at each school to complete standardized tests. The new Chromebooks, however, are assessment ready with a touchscreen model available for younger students. “We will reclaim instructional time through this,’’ Weeks said. “We won’t have to shut down media centers and computer labs for months to get through the testing cycle. More students can test at once and this will give more time back to the teacher for instruction.”
Protections will be put in place and every student will be required to complete a Digital Citizenship course to help support safe internet use.
The district will pay $230 for each standard model Chromebook and $270 for the touchscreen version with the use of state Digital Classroom Plan funds and district capital funds. A technology fee of $32 per student will be assessed for schools that implement the program during the 2018-19 school year. The fee will assist in the refresh and maintenance needed due to normal wear and tear. Schools with existing take-home-technology programs may charge a different fee depending on the models they currently use. Financial assistance will be available for students in need.
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The Lake County School Board voted Monday night to allow eligible school administrators who volunteer and meet training requirements to carry guns on school campuses and serve as armed responders to active shooter incidents. The move was to comply with the state’s new school security law that requires compliance by the start of the upcoming school year.
Currently, the district has at least one officer or deputy in every middle and high school, but none in elementary schools. To enhance student safety at every school, the new law gives districts three options. The first is to use certified officers placed through local law enforcement agencies. The second is to create a district police department staffed with certified officers. The third option allows armed school personnel through what is known as the “guardian program,” short for the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program established in the aftermath of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida.
Superintendent Diane Kornegay recommended support of the program, noting that she would prefer to have a certified law enforcement officer (SRO) in every school and will continue to work toward that goal. The state didn't provide enough funding and the district doesn’t have the money to have them in place by the beginning of the school year as required by law.
An informal poll found that 30 administrators are interested in participating in the guardian program. Teachers and other employees are excluded from participation. A district-wide survey in April found that the majority of employees, students, parents and community members did not approve of school personnel having access to a secured weapon on campus during school hours.
School Board Chairman Stephanie Luke, along with board members Marc Dodd and Bill Mathias, voted in support of the measure. Board members Sandy Gamble and Kristi Burns cast the dissenting votes.
"Evil exists and we have an obligation to protect our kids," Mathias said before the vote.
“I have mixed thoughts,” said Gamble. "No matter what you do, you're not going to make everybody happy. I'm not sure this is the right way."
Kornegay has been meeting with local police departments, city managers and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to try to find ways of sharing the cost, but many of those agencies are strapped for cash as well. In addition, law enforcement agencies are finding it difficult to hire enough officers to meet the growing demand as 67 school districts scamper to place officers before the new school year begins.
"Whether one agrees or disagrees with the guardian program, we must comply with the law and without the needed funding and the people to fill positions, we must consider every available option," Kornegay said. The board also voted unanimously to ask Lake County commissioners to place a referendum on the ballot this year for approval of a 0.75 mill ad valorem millage tax. If approved, the $16 million raised would go toward student safety through the hiring of more social workers, counselors and nurses, along with in-house alternative education programs, in-school suspension programs and some "school hardening" measures to make buildings and classrooms more secure.
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By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
City Council had a full plate of presentations, resolutions and ordinances to consider. I've selected several items to share with you. Since I'm just one of seven City Council members what follows is my take and does not necessarily represent the views of the Council as a whole.
Dr. Richard Levey, our economic development consultant gave us his quarterly update which was very encouraging. There will be approximately 50 new well paying jobs coming soon to the downtown area now that a rapidly growing tech company called Steamroller has decided to relocate to Mount Dora. Attracting good jobs to our town is critical to our future and I hope this is just the tip of the job growth iceberg.
A proposed resolution to make changes to Gilbert Park that would include 16 new parking places along Grandview and a "grass" parking area to be located where the current retention pond is now was discussed but continued until July 31 due to concerns from our Parks & Recreation Advisory Board and others. Green space is precious. There's no doubt that more parking in that area is needed but the devil is always in the details.
We passed a pair of ordinances giving final approval to developer, Medallion Home to increase the number of houses at Lakes of Mount Dora from 950 to 1038. Passage of these 2 ordinances amend our Comprehensive Plan and our PUD (Planned Unit Development) plan. These changes were widely supported by residents of Lakes of Mount Dora and unanimously approved by City Council. This is now a done deal.
There has been lots of discussion for months now regarding the creation of a downtown "Entertainment District" where people could take alcoholic beverages on streets and sidewalks as they walk around the downtown area. The notion of enjoying a glass of wine and watching the sun set on the 4th. Ave. docks or strolling around downtown with a beer in hand could be appealing. I'm all for allowing adults to enjoy their preferred forms of entertainment but I for one am in favor of postponing a decision on this concept until we have more data on important items such as the possible substantial additional cost of law enforcement, litter collection and finding out if our downtown merchants and residents actually support it. Details like days and hours of operation have yet to be decided and the boundaries of the proposed Entertainment District are still in question. I don't think we're ready to go yet as we need a more complete cost/benefit analysis. Stay tuned for future developments.
Parking is one of our major concerns and I'm pleased to report that City Council has given its consensus support to our City Manager to pursue the purchase of several properties in the downtown area for surface parking lots and explore plans to expand our public parking garage. There will also be consideration of the possible sale of the 128 acre Mount Dora Golf Course and spray field area.
There was good discussion on several issues at our meeting. Progress is slow but momentum is building in Mount Dora. Thanks for the opportunity to serve.
Our quote today is for Winnie the Poo. "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think."
Marc Crail District 4 City Council member
For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here. Find out what's happening locally with just a tap on your phone by downloading the area's free mobile app. Monthly issues of Mount Dora Buzz are available here.
City officials and business owners have kicked around the idea of controlled on-street consumption of alcoholic beverages in downtown for years. Now it may be coming to fruition.
Currently, consuming alcohol on the sidewalks is only allowed during the city’s big festivals which benefits the events’ beer vendors rather than the area’s plentiful restaurants and bars. A proposed ordinance would extend on-street consumption within a designated district to non-festival days as well.
A brief report by city staff stated the designated district would encourage events, artistic performances and other forms of organized entertainment while providing more effective public safety enforcement in the area.
ABOVE: The area within the blue line is the proposed entertainment district.
The proposed designated area, dubbed Downtown Entertainment District, stretches from 5th Avenue to Evans Park waterfront and from Baker Street to the 4th Avenue docks and the downtown lakefront. Drinking from a can, bottle, or glass would still be prohibited, but establishments licensed to serve alcohol would be permitted to pour patrons drinks in clear plastic cups which could then be taken off the premises, as long as they did not leave the Downtown Entertainment District. The drinks cannot exceed 16 ounces. The City is also considering whether to require the businesses to pour the drinks in branded cups, so it can be determined where the drinks originated, thus promoting accountability and assisting law enforcement when necessary.
The City Council will ultimately decide the days and times when the open-consumption would be permitted. It could mirror Eustis, which allows it seven days a week.
The first public reading of the ordinance is scheduled for June 5 at City Hall.