Robert Edwards

Superintendent

Lafayette District Schools

363 NE Crawford Street
Mayo, Florida 32066
Telephone: 386-294-4107

Click this link to send me an email.


When I talk to people on the street they usually will start the conversation with "how's the new job" or "is it what you thought it would be"?  I usually respond with "I love what I am doing and while there are things that catch me by surprise, mostly, it is what I expected".

If I had to pick one thing that has really caught me by surprise, it would be the amount of misinformation about what is actually going on inside of Lafayette County Schools.  I recently had a conversation with a close family member about our budget and decisions we have made in order to "live within our means".  After giving them the details surrounding the decisions, they understood completely.  I responded with, "I wish I could do this with more people, I really think if people knew more about how things work within the school system, they would understand".  To which they replied, "well ... what are you doing to help them understand"?  

I have spent a lot of time thinking about that conversation and how I could do a better job of communicating.  I plan on doing this through periodical updates to the Superintendent's web page along with articles in our local newspaper.  This is not to convince the public we are making every decision with zero errors.  This is simply to share the information we use in making the day to day decisions for our schools.

To begin this process, I have asked members of the staff to begin drafting short articles concerning the areas they are responsible for.  One example would be our budget.  How are we funded?  Are there restrictions on when and where you can use the funding?  For the percentage of our budget we have local control over, how do we decide where to spend the money?  Another area may be in food service.  How do we choose the menu?  How do we determine what foods are served at school?

The decisions we make are not taken lightly.  We realize these decisions affect our community in a huge way.  Much time, effort, and research is put into every decision before a change is made.  I am very thankful to my staff and to the Florida Association of District School Superintendent's (FADSS) for sharing their knowledge and experience with me.  I trust and rely heavily on them when decisions have to be made about the direction of our schools.

If there is an area you are particularly interested in knowing more about, please send me an email with your questions.  Our community support is vital to the success of our schools.  


 

 

17 July, 2016 ... School Grades Released for 2015/2016 School Year

School grades were recently released by the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE).  We were not certain what the results would be, but the warning that school grades may take a hit was clear.  We received a document concerning school grades just hours prior to grades being released.  The initial paragraph read … “Schools that normally receive an “A” may get a “B” or even a “C” under the new school grading system.  This is to be expected and is no cause for alarm”.

The result was, 40% less schools received an “A” as compared to the previous year.  Unfortunately, both of our schools were impacted negatively by the new grading system.  Our middle/high school received a “B” (missing an “A” by only two points) and our elementary received a “C”.  Florida has increased education standards and has a new assessment to measure these new standards.  In addition, there is a new, more difficult school grading system now. 

These school grades are the first set of grades that can measure learning gains or how much a student progressed or grew under the new standards as measured by the Florida Standards Assessment, commonly referred to as the FSA.  These new grades represent a higher set point or benchmark for students, teachers and schools.  The way school grades are calculated has changed and are more rigorous than before.  It is more difficult for schools and school districts to receive credit for student learning gains.

Each school, within a district, receives an individual grade.  Those grades are then used to determine a district grade.  Lafayette County School District, as a whole, received a “B”.  There were only 3 school districts who received an “A” this year.  In looking at data released by FLDOE, Lafayette is ranked 13th when compared to all 67 school districts across the state.  To break this down even further, Lafayette is ranked 8th when comparing our district to the 39 “small and rural districts” in the state.  Keeping in mind, a small and rural district is any district with 24,000 or less students.  When comparing Lafayette to all districts with 10,000 or less students, Lafayette is ranked 6th.

In looking at the big picture, Lafayette faired pretty well this year.  We are definitely not where we would like to be in all areas.  We have been in transition to new, more rigorous standards and new assessments.  There is no doubt that Florida has raised the bar.  Regardless of the grade, I stand firmly behind the hard work of our students, teachers, and administrators.  I truly believe we have one of the best school systems in the state.  We are looking forward to overcoming these new challenges while continuing to provide our students with a solid education.  Thank you for the overwhelming support you provide to our schools.



10 May, 2016 ... Lafayette High School Graduation Rates

This past December, the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) released the 2014-2015 high school graduation percentages for all counties.  The percentage of graduates showing for Lafayette County seemed a little low in comparison to our calculations.  We immediately began reviewing our data and comparing that to the data collected by FLDOE.  The difference between the FLDOE data and our data was quickly identified as errors in student withdrawal codes.  We contacted FLDOE and began preparing our request to have the student withdrawal codes corrected prior to grades being issued for the 2015-2016 school year.

School grades, for middle/high schools are composed of data from eleven categories.  There are four core subject areas assessed by the state.  These are: English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.  For each of these four subject areas there are 4 categories which look at student proficiency and 4 categories for learning gains on state assessments.  This makes up 8 of the 11 categories.  The remaining 3 categories are Middle School Acceleration, College & Career Acceleration, and High School Graduation Rate.  There are 100 points available for each of the 11 categories for a total of 1,100 possible points.

The points from each of the 11 categories are totaled and then divided by the number of categories (11) available.  For a school to be awarded a grade of “A”, it must maintain an average of 62 or more points across all categories.   In other words, a school would need a minimum of 682 of the 1,100 points possible to be considered an “A” school. 

As stated above, the High School Graduation Rate is one of the categories used in determining a school’s overall grade.   According to the data released by FLDOE, we had an 80% graduation rate (80/100 points).  We felt like considerable progress had been made in this area and the data was not reflective of our efforts.  After identifying where the errors were, we were able to provide evidence showing our actual graduation rate was 87%.  It was important to request the corrections be made, not only to help with our school grade, but to also show an accurate reflection of the success of our students and teachers.

Since the graduation rate lags behind one year, the graduation rate we were asking to be corrected will actually affect the current school year’s (2015-2016) school grade.  The school grades for the current school year are due to be released in June of 2016.  This past year was the first year Lafayette High School (LHS) earned an “A” for a school grade.  We like being an “A” school and plan to repeat that again this year.

Although we do not have results from this current year’s assessments to begin calculating Proficiency and Learning Gains in the core subject areas, we have begun to look at our increases in the area of College & Career Readiness.  We have increased in this area from 40 points to 58 points and look for this to be an even larger increase for next year.  Some of this increase can be attributed to the addition of our Culinary Arts and Certified Nursing Assistant programs.  Another major factor in the increase is the additional certifications being earned in our Agriculture and Business programs.  We also have approximately 40 high school students who have completed over 200 dual enrollment courses through our surrounding colleges.

As I said before, last year was the first year we earned an “A” at LHS.  Although school grades are far from our main focus, it is nice to be recognized for the hard work our students, teachers, administrators, and other staff put in each and every day.  I appreciate the Florida Department of Education’s willingness to work with us and for making the corrections to our graduation rate.

 


2 March, 2016 ... Lafayette Schools Save Energy


According to a recent report released by the Florida Department of Education, Lafayette County School District ranks 15th in the state for annual energy cost savings.  The report for the 2014-2015 school year shows the average energy cost per student across the state is $220.77 per year.  Lafayette County Schools’ average cost per student annually is $202.27 resulting in a savings of $18.50 per student per year.  When considering all energy sources, the average per square foot cost in school buildings across the state is $1.20/sq. ft.  Lafayette County Schools’ average is $1.05/sq. ft.  The result for Lafayette Schools is a savings of $21,922.50 in energy costs for the 2014-2015 school year.

The recent cost report released by the state looks at all energy sources used by school districts to include electric, natural gas, LP, and heating oil.  The report is then broken down by district showing cost per energy source, for both buildings and student population.  At Lafayette, our energy sources are electric and LP gas.  This past year, we paid $232,869 for electric and $6,734 for LP gas.  We do not currently use natural gas or heating oil at either of our schools.

At the time of this report, Lafayette School District reported 1,185 students.  There are eight Florida school districts that reported 2,000 students or less.  Within these eight districts, the energy cost per square foot ranges from $0.99 to $1.60/sq.ft.  Looking at the same eight districts, the average energy cost annually, per student, ranges from $202.27 to $407.24 with Lafayette School district being the lowest by far.

Over the past several years we have replaced roofing, insulation, and older AC units in multiple buildings.  This maintenance was needed due to the age of the buildings and AC units.  Anytime we repair buildings and equipment, we also look at ways we can reduce energy cost at our schools.  One way we are currently looking to save additional energy is through the installation of LED lighting.  Research shows considerable savings in electricity can be achieved by using LED bulbs which use less energy and produce less heat when operating.   




16 February, 2016 ... Lafayette High School Earns an "A" for 2014/2015 School Year

School Grades have been released.  We are very happy to announce, Lafayette High School earned an “A”.  School grades are a measure of students’ proficiency and growth in English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.  Proficiency is a measure of how well a school’s students score on state assessments.  Growth is how much a student improves from one year to the next as measured by state assessments.  Other categories at the middle and high school level that determine school grades are middle school acceleration, college & career readiness and, graduation rate.  Lafayette High School (LHS) has performed phenomenally in all areas.

Lafayette Elementary School (LES) is also to be commended for a job well done.  LES received a “B” for its grade.  If you’ve followed the news over the past year, you know multiple changes were made within Florida’s education system.  State standards have changed, new state assessments were administered, and the cut scores for those assessments were raised to challenge our students even more.  Our students and teachers have stayed the course and continue to rank among the best in the state. 

Lafayette Schools, as a district, received a grade of “B”.  Our district score was 329.  We needed a score of 331 to receive an “A”.  In other words, we missed being an “A” district by 2 points.  We will be reviewing the grading criteria to determine if there were any errors made which would qualify for an appeal.

I would like to say thank you to our students, parents, teachers, and administration for rising to the challenges presented this past year.  I am proud to be a part of such an awesome school system.  You make our schools great!

 


28 December, 2015 ... Lafayette School District is Named the "Up and Coming District in Florida"


We are very pleased to hear Lafayette County School District has been selected as the up and coming school district for Florida.  Any recognition it is greatly appreciated, and to be recognized on a national level is truly an honor.  There is a genuine dedication by our parents, students, teachers, administration, and all support personnel involved to be the best.   Being a part of a community where parents strongly support our school system and work hand in hand with our teachers to promote education is a blessing.  The success of any organization is a direct reflection of the people involved, and our schools are no exception.   Words cannot describe how thankful I am for the opportunity to live and work in Lafayette County.

Proficiency rating ... Proficiency is determined by the number of students who received a proficient score on the state standardized assessments taken each Spring.  Assessments are rated on a level 1-5.  Students are considered proficient in a subject area if they score a level 3 or higher.  Assessments are taken by grade level in English Language Arts (ELA), Math, and Science along with End of Course Assessments (EOC's) in Civics, U.S. History, Biology, Algebra, Algebra 2, and Geometry.

Graduation rate ... There are a number of factors that figure into graduation rates.  The state is looking at students as they enter 9th grade and expects those students to graduate with a diploma inside of 4 years.  The data you reference from 2012/2013 shows Lafayette County with a graduation rate of 88%.  This past 2014/2015 school year, Lafayette County increased to a graduation rate of 93%.  We are pleased to see this number continuing to grow toward the 100% mark.  We feel one of the main factors here is the increased number of college and career opportunities we are offering our students.

At this time we have roughly 40% of our Juniors and Seniors who are taking advantage of dual enrollment opportunities.  Students are able to enroll in courses at North Florida Community College (NFCC), Taylor Technical Institute (TTI), and River Oak Technical College (formally Suwannee Hamilton Vo-tech) while still in high school.  Completing a course at one of these institutions not only gives a student credit at the post-secondary level, but also credit at the high school level.  This is all offered at no cost to the student.  As students begin to experience success at the post-secondary level, they are more encouraged to complete high school and continue their education.

An additional factor in our increased graduation rate is the number of Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses we now offer.  Students can now receive industry certification in one or more of four programs we offer.  The programs include Business, Agriculture, Culinary Arts, and Allied Health.  The number of students now participating in and completing our CTE programs continues to rise.  As students earn certifications within each of these programs, they begin to gain knowledge and experience in an area they have chosen.  

For example, a student can now graduate as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and begin a career immediately upon graduating from high school.  This could lead to a life-long career in the medical field or provide income while attending additional education courses after leaving high school.  Either way, it allows students to experience success early and encourages students to graduate from high school.

It is important for each and every student to have a plan for life after graduation.  We all know there are a lot of years to live after leaving high school.  Preparation and planning is necessary if someone desires to support a family and contribute back to their community.  It is my goal that each and every student who graduates from Lafayette High School will have a plan and the guidance/support needed to accomplish whatever it is he or she decides to do after graduation. 




9 July, 2015 ... Lafayette Students Score Well on State Assessments

As most of you are aware, the standards used to cover curriculum in our K-12 schools are referred to as the Florida Standards (FS).   The main assessment used is the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA).   Certain subjects are assessed using End of Course Assessments (EOC’s).  We are still waiting on detailed data from the state concerning FSA’s and EOC’s taken this past year.  However, we have begun to receive summary information from some of the assessments.  Detailed information will not be available until after December 1st of this year due to a validity test of the assessments, currently being conducted by the state.

The state assessment results received thus far reveals the dedication of our students and teachers.  Once again, our students and teachers are recognized as “among the best” when compared to others across the state.   This was accomplished in a year where the standards being taught, the assessments given, and the method in which we assess our students all saw changes.  Our students and teachers stayed the course and continue to be successful. 

Here is what we can report on at the moment.  At the elementary level, we were pleased to hear we are above the state average for 3rd grade FSA English Language Arts (ELA).  At the middle/high level we are above the state average in all subjects where we have received data so far.

More specifically, our Biology 1 scores (Emily Beach) were the 3rd highest in the state.  Algebra 1 scores (Brittany Jackson & Mary Koon) were 7th highest in the state.  Civics scores (Sonya Koon) were 13th highest in the state.  Congratulations to Mrs. Emily Beach, Mrs. Brittany Jackson, Mrs. Mary Koon, Mrs. Sonya Koon, and your students for a job well done.

I would also like to mention that assessment scores for our 8th grade Science (Mrs. Carla Jones), US History (Mr. Mike Harris), and 10th grade English Language Arts (Mrs. Lori Sadler) were also recognized as scoring above state average.  Congratulations to you and your students for what you were able to accomplish.



9 July, 2015 ... Tropicana Speech Winners 

At a recent school board meeting, we asked the winners of the Tropicana Speech contest to join us.  The winners were Taryn Maund (1st place), Jaley Moseley (2nd place), and Bryant Long (3rd place).  Each student was asked to share their speech at the school board meeting during our awards and recognitions time.

The speeches were absolutely amazing.  It was hard to believe we were listening to 4th and 5th graders as they spoke in such detail about their particular subjects.  Bryant began by talking about the proper way to utilize social media and safe guards to be taken when posting content.  He explained that posting of pictures while on vacation is not a good idea since it would allow others to know the home is unattended.  This could then lead to thieves identifying the home as an easy target.

Jaley followed up by explaining why it was so important for us to take time to “get outside and be active”.  She went on to explain the rising rate of childhood obesity and how not being active contributes to this.  She encouraged all of us to put our electronic devices down and get involved in some good old fashioned outside fun.

Taryn finished up by talking about her daddy’s career in medical sales and services.  She explained how his company manufactures, sales, and helps with the installation of various equipment used in back surgeries.  She spoke about the screws, rods, and other tools used when conducting a spinal fusion surgery.  We were all impressed by her knowledge of the subject and the medical terminology used during the speech.

All of the speeches were very interesting and each student was well versed in the area they spoke on.  Congratulations to Taryn, Jaley, and Bryant for an outstanding job conducting research and delivering their speeches. 



4 June, 2015 ... Industry Certifications Offered at Lafayette High School

 This year, 67 students were successful in receiving certifications within CTE programs offered at LHS.  Career and Technical Education, or CTE, is something we have worked hard to provide for our students.  CTE is designed to develop and maintain educational programs to prepare students for occupations important to Florida’s economic development. 

The certifications earned through CTE give students an opportunity to leave high school with skills desired by employers.  With the help of schools, business and industry, and trade associations, each program contains the academic and technical skills required to be successful in today’s economy.

CTE courses are grouped in clusters and by field.  At LHS we offer CTE courses in Agriculture, Business, Culinary Arts, and Allied Health.  Students can choose which field they are interested in and receive certification prior to graduating from high school.  Students who meet the standard high school diploma requirements and have completed one or more industry certifications will graduate with a Merit Diploma Designation.

Within Agriculture we offer certification in Agriculture Technology 1 & 2.  Through our Business program we offer certifications in Adobe Flash, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver.  In Culinary Arts students can receive a Safe Serve certification and then transition to Suwannee Hamilton Technical Center to complete the remaining courses.  In Allied Health we offer Health Science 1 &2, Nursing Assistant 3, and Medical Skills & Services.  Through our Allied Health program, a student can take the state exam and become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).  

Our Agriculture department was successful this past year in getting 40 students certified in Agriculture Technology.  Our Business department had 1 student certified in Dreamweaver, 3 students certified in Photoshop, and 6 certified in Adobe Flash.  Culinary Arts had 10 students receive certification in Safe Serve.  Lastly, our Allied Health department had 8 students who are now officially qualified as a Certified Nursing Assistant. 

In addition to courses we were able to make available at LHS, we also worked with Taylor Technical Institute (TTI) to provide access to courses we were not able to offer locally.  This year we received 7 slots for our seniors to participate in courses such as Welding, Electrical and Instrumentation, and Millwrights.   This is the first year TTI has offered slots to high school students outside of Taylor County.   The instructors and administration personnel at TTI have had nothing but good things to say about the students from LHS, and have agreed to continue to extend this opportunity for our students.

I would like to thank our students and teachers for a job well done this past year.  I would also like to thank our guidance counselors, staff, and administration for working diligently to ensure opportunities like these remain available for students in the coming years.

We are presently creating the schedule for the 2015-2016 school year.  Students who are interested in participating in one of our CTE programs should see our high school guidance counselor for more information.



19 December, 2014 ... School Grades

I am very proud of our Middle/High School this year.  Grades were released and we are a "B" school.  You may wonder why I am proud of earning a "B".  Let me take just a few minutes to explain. 

The grade calculation is quite complicated, so I just want to key in on a few areas that effected us.  There are 17 components in the grading process.  Within these areas we need a total of 1,115 points to be an "A" school.  We actually had a total of 1,177 points.  So why are we not an "A"?

There are 3 areas that can cause you to drop an entire letter grade.  The first 2 areas are in "gains" for your bottom 25% of students in Reading and Math.  Your bottom 25% is figured by looking at the previous year's lowest 25% state assessment scores in Reading and Math.  Simply put, to show "gains",  50% or more of the bottom 25% must show adequate progress when compared to the previous year?  If not, your school will loose one letter grade.  In Reading, our bottom 25% improved by 64%.  In Math, our students improved by 68%.  So far, so good.

The third area is our "at risk graduation rate".  These are the students identified in the 8th grade as being at risk for not graduating.  If a student scores a level 1 or 2 in both Reading and Math on their 8th grade FCAT, they are identified as "at risk".  From this group of students, you must graduate at least 65% percent or you will loose a letter grade.  If the student drops out of school, can't pass the Algebra 1 End of Course Exam, or does not pass the state 10th grade Reading assessment, your "at risk graduation rate" is negatively impacted.  This is what dropped us from an "A" to a "B" this year.

I said all of that to say this.  We have great schools.  Our principals, teachers, staff, and students work very hard each and every day.  We can see this by looking at the progress made (over all points increase) from last year to this year.  

In both 2012 and 2013 we were 3 points away from having enough points to earn an "A".  In 2014, we increased our overall points by 65 and have more than enough points to be an "A" school.  This is the first year our Middle/High School has received enough points to earn an "A" and that should be celebrated.

I did not want the "B" we received to be viewed as no change and over shadow our positive movement.  We made a huge leap in the right direction.

I hope this helps bring perspective to the progress made over the past year and a better understanding of the school grading process.  As always, if you have questions, please feel free to call.  We would love to hear from you.



22 September, 2014 ... Opportunities for HS Students

At the LHS Parent Night, held this past April, we spoke with parents and students about opportunities as students enter into high school.  One of the areas of opportunity we spoke about was Industry Certifications.  As we have shifted our focus from "college ready" to "college and career ready" we have opened the doors a little wider each year to industry certifications.  

Looking back to the 2012-2013 school year, our students earned 41 industry certifications with a passage rate of 95%.  The state average passage rate was 79%.  These certifications were earned through our Business and Agricultural programs.  

Our Business program offers industry certifications within Adobe which include: Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Flash.  Thirty-seven industry certifications were earned within our Business program.  Our Agriculture department offers Ag Tech.  There were four industry certifications obtained through our Ag Tech program.

Looking at our 2013-2014 school year, our students earned a total of 64 industry certifications.  Students in our Business program earned 41 industry certifications.  In addition to that, students in our Ag Tech program earned 23 industry certifications.

This year, we have added several industry certification offerings and are looking for the number of industry certifications earned to continue growing.  We now have Allied Health, where a student can become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).  Another new course is Culinary Arts, which also offers industry certification.  Both Allied Health and Culinary Arts are receiving great student participation and will offer training in career and life skills.

In addition to what we can offer at our schools, we are working through Taylor Technical Institute (TTI) so our students can become certified in Cybersecurity, Welding, Electrical and Instrumentation Technology, Industrial Machinery Maintenance and Repair, Millwright, Machining, Technology Support Specialist, and Administrative Office Assistant.  We currently have 7 of our Seniors taking advantage of these offerings.

I would like to thank our school board for their support during this transition.  I would like to thank Stewart Hancock, Stephen Clark, and Gina Hart for the many hours spent meeting, writing grants/reports, and scheduling these courses.  I would also like to give a special thanks to our teachers, who are the real reason for our success.  Chad and Tori Lyons are responsible for our Ag Tech program.  Susan Morgan is heading up our Allied Health and Culinary Arts programs.  Lisa Hancock has been our business teacher for the past 12 years and is responsible for the industry certifications received through our business program thus far. 



14 July, 2014 ... Elementary School Grade

Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) has released the 2013-2014 grades for all elementary schools.  Lafayette Elementary School (LES) improved it's score and earned a "B".  I would like to say "Thank You" to all of our students, parents, teachers, administrators, and other supporting staff.  This truly is a group effort.

Looking at numbers across the state this year, Lafayette County is one of only 16 counties who has increased our elementary school letter grade.   Increasing this score in any given year is quite an accomplishment.  Increasing this score during a year when we saw numerous changes in administrative staff, curriculum, testing, and the school grading system is a tremendous accomplishment.  Our teachers and staff have worked very hard to adapt to and overcome whatever challenges they were given this year.  Dealing with change is very stressful while we are living through it, and in this case is also very rewarding in the end.

The upcoming year will bring changes of its own. As of February 2014, the state standards we teach have been changed again.  We are currently in training over the summer so we will be ready to implement these changes when students return.  The test we all know as FCAT 2.0 will also be replaced by a new assessment which is still under development.  This new assessment will be administered in the Spring of 2015.  I am confident we will also meet this challenge and continue to be successful.

For more information on school grades, you can go to http://schoolgrades.fldoe.org.



24 June, 2014 ... More on EOC scores


When looking at proficiency on state level End of Course Exams (EOC's), here is how we compare to other public school districts in the state.

Algebra 1 ... We are 1st
Geometry ... We are 4th
Biology ... We are 10th
Civics ... We are 3rd

In a recent Department of Education (DOE) press release, we received an "attaboy" from the Commissioner of Education for being one of only 13 Florida school districts to improve in all four high school End of Course (EOC) assessment areas this year.  Our scores jumped 36 percentage points in Geometry, 12 percentage points in Algebra 1, six percentage points in Biology 1 and four percentage points in U.S. History.  In addition to the huge amount of growth in each area, 100% of our 8th grade Algebra 1 students and 100% of our 9th grade Geometry students passed their respective EOC's.  

Mrs. Cathy Palomino is our Geometry teacher, Mrs. Brittany Jackson and Mrs. Mary Koon are our Algebra 1 teachers, Mrs. Emily Beach is our Biology 1 teacher, and Mr. Mike Harris is our U.S. History teacher.  Please congratulate them on a job well done the next time you see them.  

With 7th grade Civics, the EOC scores are grouped in thirds, meaning there is a lower, middle, and upper 1/3.  This year the state had an average of 35% in the upper 1/3 and Lafayette had 51% of our students score in the upper 1/3.  Our 7th grade Civics teacher is Mrs. Alissa Hingson.  Please congratulate her when you see her.

Depending on which cohort the student is in an EOC is either pass/fail or is calculated as a percentage of the student's overall grade in that course.  These tests are very rigorous and require students to have a firm understanding of the subject area.  This is a tremendous accomplishment on both the part of the student and teacher.

We were also recently informed we have three of our elementary students who scored a perfect score on their FCAT.  We will be recognizing these students at our June 30th School Board meeting.  Each student will also receive a letter congratulating them on their success and a certificate of achievement from Governor Scott.  

These students are: Jasmine Carreno, perfect score on FCAT 2.0 Science; Brannan Lamb, perfect score on FCAT 2.0 Mathematics; and Mallory McCray, perfect score on FCAT 2.0 Mathematics.  

Congratulations to all of you!



9 June, 2014 ... FCAT/EOC ... How did we do?

FCAT scores are in and we have been busy running our numbers against the state average as well as other counties with similar demographics to see how we stack up.  Granted, there are certain areas we need to improve on in the coming year, but overall we did well.  Both the Elementary and Middle/High School had areas where scores decreased when compared to last year.  At the same time, each of the schools made huge gains in several other areas.

The following is a comparison of this year's scores to last year's scores based on the FCAT data we have available at this time.  Starting with Reading scores ...  In grades 3-5 we saw a decrease of 3%.  At the Middle/High School our 6-8 scores showed no change.  In grades 9 & 10 we saw an increase of 6%.

In grades 3-5 our Math scores are up 3%.  In 6-8 Math we saw a 12% decrease.  Last year we had the highest 8th grade Math FCAT scores in the state.  We are still waiting on grade level data to come in so we can confirm why we fell 12%.  At this time, we believe a huge portion of this is due to testing a larger number of our 8th grade math students using the Algebra 1 EOC instead of the 8th grade Math FCAT.  Last year we had 32% of our 8th graders take the Algebra 1 EOC.  This year we increased the number of 8th graders taking the Algebra 1 EOC to 63%.  By increasing the number of students who take the Algebra 1 EOC in 8th grade, we reduced the number of students who usually score at the top on the 8th grade Math FCAT.  

To explain this further, this year we could choose not to double test our Math students in 8th grade.  This means if a student in the 8th grade tested using the Algebra 1 EOC, we opted not to test that student using 8th grade Math FCAT.  Many schools chose to double test their students in an effort to keep their 8th grade Math FCAT scores higher.  Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, schools are not allowed to double test their 8th graders, so we will see a more accurate comparison of districts where 8th grade Math FCAT scores are concerned.  With that being said, 100% of our 8th graders who took the Algebra 1 EOC passed.  Brittany Jackson is our 8th grade Algebra 1 teacher.  Be sure to congratulate her when you see her. 

In 5th grade Science we are down 8%.  I think it is worth noting, our Science FCAT score was a 199 with the highest score being 211.  The state average is 201.   In 8th grade Science we saw a decrease of 8%.  The state average is a 201 and our score is 198.

Our FCAT Writing scores increased across the board.  In 4th grade Writing we increased by 2%.  In 8th grade writing we increased by 11%.  In 10th grade we increased by 8%.  In 8th grade we have the highest scores in the state with 72% proficient, compared to a state average of 56%.  Kateesh Hamlin is our 8th grade language arts teacher.  Natalie Wisdahl and Tracy Kerby are the 10th grade Language Arts teachers.  Be sure to congratulate them when you see them.

I realize there are areas we need to improve in and we have already begun meeting to discuss the necessary changes.  We are looking at the data now to see where, specifically, changes are needed.   

So there you have it, the good and the bad.  I would like to congratulate our teachers, students, and other supporting faculty for a job well done in so many areas.  We are the 2nd smallest school district in the state yet we consistently are on the leader board in academics, sports, and club competitions. Having 100% of 8th graders pass the Algebra 1 EOC is a big deal.  Having the highest 8th grade Writing scores in the state is a big deal.  Consistently having teams within our sports program compete and/or win at the state level is a big deal.  Knowing that each year our FFA & FBLA will compete at the state level and in most cases win, is a big deal.  I hope you are as proud as I am of our school system.

If you would like additional information concerning FCAT or EOC scores please feel free to call.



9 May, 2014 ... Is the Community Eligibility Provision (Free Meals) good for our district?

In the past year I have been approached with questions as to why we are not offering free breakfast and lunch at our schools.  There are schools in the surrounding counties who are offering free breakfast and lunch to their students, so the question is a valid one.  We have actually looked in to this program in each of the past two years and have not found it to be feasible in our district.  I had asked our Food Service Director, Joey Pearson, to provide some information on this program and why we have decided not to participate.  This information is contained in the following paragraphs.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a new program being implemented by the Department of Agriculture that will make all meals free in eligible public schools.  Eligibility for this program is determined by the percentage of "identified students" in the year prior to implementation.  Identified students are students proved eligible for free meals and are not subject to verification.  
     
This definition includes students directly certified through a variety of state and federal programs.  The percentage of these students is then entered into a formula created by the Department of Agriculture to estimate the amount of reimbursement to determine if the program is feasible for each individual district.
    
In our county, only the elementary school would meet the minimum qualifications to be eligible for CEP.  We entered the data from our elementary school into the formula discussed above.  After completing the qualification process it was determined, in order to maintain the current revenue in our local food service program under CEP, our meal service participation would need to increase by 21% (daily) to break even with current revenue amounts.  
 
    Looking at the current number of meals being served through our food service program, we would loose approximately $4,000.00 per month in revenue under the CEP program.  From a financial standpoint, this would be a considerable risk to our food service program.  We will continue to pursue this as new information comes available, but at this time the Community Eligibility Provision does not seem to be a good fit for Lafayette School District.
   
  I hope this information answers some of the questions you may have about our food service program.  If you have questions, comments, or suggestions as to how we can make our food service program better, you can contact Joey Pearson at 294-4136.  As always, we value your input and would like to hear from you.



14 April, 2014 ... upcoming opportunities for students

Graduation requirements and industry certifications were the main topics of Parent Night at LHS this past Thursday.  I would like to thank Stewart Hancock, Melissa Hewett, and everyone who worked in the background to make this happen.  Taylor Technical Institute, Suwannee-Hamilton Votech, North Florida Community College, and Col. Scott Vervisch (JROTC), were present to share information with our students and parents.  

Topics covered were programs we currently offer, programs we plan to offer in the future, graduation requirements/diploma designations, etc.  If you have a student entering high school in the coming year, this information is for you.   

The idea of "go to college or fail in life" is not something we share.  No one will argue the value of a college education and we certainly encourage our students to continue their education after high school.  However, we also realize many of our students will choose not to attend college for different reasons.   Our goal is for each student to leave with a clear direction in life.  No matter if its college, learning a trade, becoming industry certified, or joining the military, we hope to provide our students with the opportunities to be successful in life. 

We currently offer industry certification in the following areas:  Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Flash, Adobe Photoshop, Ag Tech, and Ag Biotech.   Additional industry certifications will be available on our campus beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.  Announcements of those courses will be made as soon as all agreements have been finalized.   

Additional courses we hope to offer are ... Certified Food Protection Manager, Early Childhood Development, NCCER Welding levels 1-3, Pharmacy Tech, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Microsoft Specialist, and JROTC.  This could be through offering courses on our campus, through an agreement with a technical college in our area, or through transporting our students to area votech schools.  

Offering new courses requires a tremendous amount of planning.  We also have to work within the budget allowed by state and federal dollars.  Some of the courses mentioned above will be available in the coming school year.  We hope to add additional courses as resources come available.  We would like to hear from you as to which courses are more desired by students and parents.  This will help us focus our energy on what is important in our community. 

We will soon be updating the LHS website to include descriptions of these courses along with availability.  We will also have information concerning graduation requirements (by grade level), and descriptions/requirements for the different diploma designations.  Please check our website periodically for updates in these areas. 

As always, we appreciate your interest in our schools and value your input.  Thank you for supporting our schools.


Robby Edwards