Despite increased student numbers and decreased funding Flagler schools still shine.
Flagler School Superintendent Jacob Oliva ended a day full of meetings on a high note and promise for the future with his third annual State of Education address.
Colleen Conklin, school board chairman, opened the address with some observations of her own.
“What is very important to us in Flagler County are the relationships and value of those relationships with our families and our teachers,” Conklin said. “Our vision is to be a courageous and innovative leader in education."
Conklin reported on the continued ranking improvements within the schools.
“The rankings for our county are moving in the right direction,” she said. “Our rankings are moving into the single digits.”
The enrollment for 2015 has rebounded to 12,921, which is 321 students higher than the state projected enrollment. School enrollment had dropped in recent years.
School funding through millage rates has not caught up with the increase in enrollment.
“The total millage rate in 1994 - 1995 was 10.5 million; in 2015-2106 it was 7.25 million, that is a dramatic difference in millage,” Conklin said.
Oliva echoed Conklin’s observations.
“We are being asked to do more with less,” he said.
Emphasizing partnerships with local businesses, including the Palm Coast Observer’s high school journalism program, Oliva said the focus was to have students entering high school with a clear idea of their future careers.
“Freshmen need to know what they want to do when they leave in four years,” he said.
He highlighted the STEM and dual enrollment opportunities and the technology Flagler students have that other school districts do not.
“We are the only and the first district in the state to issue a computer to every seventh to 12th grade student, iPads for each student in grades fourth through sixth, not just in school but to take home,” he said. “There is a computer for every student in the kindergarten through third grade. We are the first and only district in the State of Florida that has a one to one ratio.”
“We could not have done that without the support of the community,” he said. “That’s a big deal.”
Oliva said the students’ and the county’s futures should be entwined.
“Our best and brightest students go off to college and they don’t come back,” he said. “Flagler County Schools are a pillar in making the Flagler community grow and prosper.”