Advocating for staff, safety, CTE at School Board meeting


Connor Darby

The Volusia County School Board designated the week of April 6-10 as “National Teacher Appreciation Week,” “National Substitute Teacher Appreciation Week” and “National School Nurse Week” when they met on Tuesday, April 30. The Board also designated May 6 “Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.”

The Board heard a presentation about new policies regarding school safety. The ideas of regulating backpacks and requiring students to wear ID badges suggested to improve safety. The idea of only permitting one earbud to be used at a time was suggested to facilitate communication and ensure students can hear the announcements.

“The ID badges are an excellent idea,” School Board Member Linda Cuthbert said. “Especially at the high schools. As students leave and come back from lunch all they have to do is show their badges. It’s always a good idea to understand who these people are.”

Cuthbert expressed concerns about enforcing the earbud policy.

“Who’s going to enforce it,” Cuthbert said. “Many times it’s put onto the teachers’ shoulders and then teachers become half-administrators. If we’re going to do this, and it’s a really good idea, we have to have something in place. What’s going to happen if they don’t comply?”

During the recently altered public participation time of Tuesday’s meeting Elizabeth Albert, president of Volusia United Educators (VUE), read from the instructional staff contract while attempting to bring attention to violence against teachers perpetrated by students.

“We have language in here that will help support and protect  our employees and we need to start enforcing it,” Albert said. “We need to educate our administrators about the process and we need to follow up and make sure it’s happening.”

Further presentations included a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Update given by Coordinator for CTE and the Arts, Rachel Rutledge. School Board Member Cuthbert responded to Rutledge’s presentation through an example of a family involved in CTE.

“If we tried to make all of our programs equal then we’re losing that uniqueness that’s based on the students that attend that school,” Cuthbert said. “So we also have to be [making decisions] based upon the needs of the students that live in that community.”