Costellos enthusiastic about coming year

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  • | 4:54 p.m. December 26, 2014
  • Ormond Beach Observer
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Fred Costello returns to the House.

When Fred Costello was told that his wife, Linda, was also named a person to watch for 2015, he laughed and said, “I’m going to be watching her, too.”

He said it’s a unique situation to have a husband, who is a state representative, and wife, who is school board chairman.

“Hopefully it will benefit Volusia County,” he said. “We can look at things from both a state and local perspective.”

Costello, a Republican and former mayor of Ormond Beach, is returning to state government after serving a term as representative from 2010 to 2012. He is also a dentist with a practice in Ormond Beach.

He said it felt good to get back to Tallahassee, and the friends he made in 2010 are now in leadership positions.

“Tallahassee is largely about relationships,” he said. “You can get a bill heard if you have credibility. I have a known track record. They know I stand up for what’s right.”

Costello said legislative priorities will be the environment and education.

“Education is the number one economic development tool,” he said, “To bring businesses to Florida we have to make education a top priority.”

He is on the Education Appropriation Committee, and hopes to use that position to bring more state money to Volusia County. He said money is unfairly withheld from the county because of a relatively low cost of living. He said the county deserves more money because of the growth in the number of students.

He said on his personal agenda are tax and pension reform, which he said are multiyear projects.

“They require a lot of heavy lifting and will not be easy to accomplish.”

For pension reform, he said the state requires a certain amount of tax dollars be set aside for pensions for employees in hazardous positions. He believes the amount should be negotiated in collective bargaining.

Linda Costello named chairman of school board

Linda Costello said she was excited to be elected chairman of the Volusia County School Board, and she’s looking forward to the new year.

“I’m calling it the board of opportunity,” she said recently. “It’s new and fresh. There are three new people and there’s a lot of enthusiasm. The sky’s the limit.”

Costello was elected to the board in 2012 and is serving a term until 2016. She represents District 4, which includes areas of Ormond Beach, Holly Hill and portions of Daytona Beach and DeLeon Springs.

She said it’s her responsibility to empower the other members of the board to do the best for the students.

“I want to make sure all members have a voice,” she said.

She wants to help the board clearly set goals and establish a system of accountability.

She said the main goal will be to spur academic achievement so that Volusia County becomes an “A” district. Last year, the Florida Dept. of Education gave Volusia County a “C” rating.

“We must raise the academic performance of lower performing schools,” she said. “The state primarily looks at progress, achievement and learning gains.”

Costello said she would like to see more career academics, that is, study related to specific professions, in the middle schools. In the past, these courses of study have been concentrated more in the high schools.

“There are some in the middle schools,” she said. “I would like to see it enhanced.”

As far as new standards, Costello said she wants to make sure teachers have the professional development they need to teach the standards so they can help the students succeed.

A new practice was adopted last year in which juniors and seniors who are academically eligible can take classes at Daytona State University, and get a head start on higher education.

In response to this, Costello said that it’s going to be very important for guidance counselors and parents to make the best choices for each student to help them succeed.


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