Thursday, May 31st, 2012 at 9:00am

Debbie Stivender’s Closing Statement

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Debbie Stivender’s Closing Statement

Online Candidate Forum

Lake County School Board District 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Citizens for Better Government, L.L.C. hosted an online candidate forum between Lake County School Board District 4 Seat candidates Thuy Lowe, incumbent Debbie Stivender, and Cheryl Thomas.  Over the next three newsletters, we will release each candidate’s closing statement, which they can use to dispute a claim made by another candidate or make the case for their own candidacy.  The closing statements were written and edited by each candidate.

Debbie Stivender’s Closing Statement

First, I would like to thank The Right Side for the opportunity to participate in the School Board Online Forum. What a novel idea to reach so many citizens at no cost to the candidates.

The last three and one-half years, have been some of my most educational and exciting times! Working with students, parents, teachers, administrators, board members, and our appointed superintendent, has been challenging, but extremely rewarding! To see the gleam in a child’s eyes when performing, reading a speech to a group, planting gardens and understanding where fruits and vegetables come from, or passing that test they thought they couldn’t, learning new technology, becoming a certified nursing assistant or a chef, excelling in extra-curricular activities, has made me appreciate even more the tremendous job our educators perform each and every day of a student’s educational life!

During my first year, I noticed that the school board was not as involved in the community as they needed to be. I suggested to the chairman that we add additional committee liaisons that could further benefit the district. We added the League of Cities, the Chamber Alliance, Lake County Arts and Culture, became a participant of the MPO, and many others. This interaction with our business and community leaders has helped us all bridge the communication gaps that existed four years ago.

As a board member, I have helped initiate several programs that have helped with the educational excellence of our county, as well as improved the working conditions for our employees. The district now has a Health and Wellness Center in Eustis that has been extremely beneficial to the well-being of our employees. The availability to see a doctor during the working day, at no cost for the visit or medication, has allowed the district to save roughly $1 million in health costs, while helping our employees get healthier. Two more facilities will be opening up over the summer: one in Leesburg and one in South Lake. Our insurance rates to our employees have remained the same, and we were able to establish the district as a self-insured district three years ago. For efficiency and fiscal responsibility, we have reduced our energy usage by consolidating in the summer months, and closing the entire district for one week in the summer. Instead of one central location, the maintenance department is being relocated to three different locations within the county, thereby making the travel time and costs less. Our transportation department is moving to a newer facility on US 27 which will make the department much more efficient and employee friendly. The existing facility on Old 441 has been in operation since the 1960’s and did not have bus lifts or areas for the employees to actually perform their duties.

Academically, the board has been a main driver in meeting the state requirement that technology be in the hands of all students by 2015. Programs that have been implemented over the past three years to assist our students in meeting their potential are: AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to third and fourth graders, the enhancement of our mentoring program (up to 700 mentors) , the continued growth of our career academies (from 19 to 38), the dual-enrollment of high school students (57% increase in student participation from 2009 to 2011), and advanced placement classes (72% increase in student participation with a 61% passing rate). Our graduation rates have continued to rise (82% in Lake County vs Florida 79%), as our drop-out rates have declined (Lake is at 2.3%). During my tenure, the district has increased its number of high-performing elementary and middle schools with an “A” or “B” grade to an all-time high of 86.5%.

The district has several new initiatives that will help us meet the additional rigor and requirements for excellence. A new evaluation system for teachers and principals has been put in place for the 2012-13 school year. The piloting of BYOT (bring your own technology) has been put into place at Umatilla High School and going very well. We will have an assessment of the success of the iPad implementation at Lake Minneola High School over the summer. The expansion of Virtual Course opportunities is continuing to be a success, whether full-time, part-time or through some type of hybrid classes.

If re-elected, I will continue to work with all agencies to make the Lake County School District, and my native Lake County, the best in Florida!

Thank you for your continued support of our students!


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4 Responses to “Debbie Stivender’s Closing Statement”

  1. to punctuation, let me clarify. i don’t think Odette beating “you can buy my vote Jimmy” will be a shock.

  2. @ Keepin it real I’m confused. What did you say? Thanks.

  3. to things have gotten better; i don’t think Odette beating you can buy my vote Jimmy will be a shock.

  4. Since Debbie swapped jobs with Conner, things have gotten better at the school district and worse at the county commission. At least Debbie can act like an adult during the meetings. The BCC has become the circus that the school board was, Conner yelling and screaming at Parks and Campione about being disrespected. Here is a tip Jimmy, if you want respect, stop trying to buy votes with traffic lights and campaign contributions with EOCs.

    Again, LCSD is better with Debbie and without Conner. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to say that about the County Commission in November unless this Odette guy shocks everyone.

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