The Flagler County School Board workshop on Nov. 1 had more seats at the table than normal.
Two incoming board members and the two candidates for the District 2 seat shared the discussion with the five current School Board members.
The workshop on the first Tuesday of each month focuses on the agenda for that month’s business meeting. The Nov. 22 business meeting, however, will have a new board sworn in. Board Chair Trevor Tucker and members Janet McDonald and Jill Woolbright participated in their final meeting as their terms will expire after the Nov. 8 election.
Incoming board members Christy Chong and Sally Hunt were invited to the join the workshop along with Courtney VandeBunte and Will Furry, who are contending for the final seat.
The board members and district staff explained procedures along the way to the newcomers.
Patty Wormeck, the district’s chief financial officer, who presented a financial statement and capital expense report that will be on the Nov. 22 consent agenda, told the incoming members that she will be available for a “finance 101 crash course.”
Board member Cheryl Massaro told the newcomers they shouldn’t worry about information overload.
“You do learn a lot as you go along. Ms. Woolbright and I had to learn by the seat of our pants during the pandemic. So don’t panic.”
— CHERYL MASSARO to new School Board members
“You do learn a lot as you go along,” she said. “Ms. Woolbright and I had to learn by the seat of our pants during the pandemic. So don’t panic. This is the hardest job I’ve ever had and the least money I’ve ever made.”
But she added that it’s also the most rewarding job she’s ever had.
After the workshop, Hunt said it was a great idea to have the incoming members included in the meeting since they will be voting on the agenda items later this month.
“It was super helpful,” Hunt said. “I was just sharing with Cheryl that had I been sworn in I would have had many more questions, but I really felt it was my place to do more listening today.”
Chong said the workshop was informative.
“I just really appreciate the previous board welcoming us. It was a great learning experience, and I think we’re off to a good start,” Chong said. “There’s a lot to learn, so I’m very open. I’ll be doing my research and continuing to follow the agenda.”
At the end of the meeting, School Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt said she’s had “an amazing two years” with the current board and gave each outgoing member a plaque recognizing their service to Flagler Schools. She also presented a video with photos of the outgoing members taking part in district activities over the years.
Tucker, who has been on the board since 2010, told a story that he said would be a treat since he’s known to not talk much. Tucker said that as three friends will take different routes and different modes of transportation to meet at a common location for lunch, so do students require different approaches to learning, and it’s the educator’s job to find the right direction and mode for each student.
“You may have to be that bicycle, that bulldog, that train or ferry, but it’s our job to get them there,” he said.
Massaro thanked Tucker for his operational and economic expertise during his years on the board.
Woolbright, in her final closing comment, warned the board about the increasing numbers of home-school students and vouchers subsidizing private education. In the last five years, she said, Flagler County home-school students increased from 176 to 1,180.
“Vounchers increased for all levels of income. We had $5 million backed out of our budget at the end of last year because of vouchers,” she said. “No matter how you feel about vouchers, they’re here. I suggest the new board take a look at how to be competitive to draw those people back to public schools.”
Woolbright had been a Flagler County teacher for 29 years before running for County Commissioner Andy Dance’s vacated School Board seat in 2020.
“I’ve advocated for children no matter what their walk of life,” she said. “I’m going to still advocate for all children. I won’t have an official title any longer, nor will I seek an official title, but I will be involved.”