Carlee Simon received praise from board members and citizens who attended the school board workshop on Wednesday where she explained her reorganization plan and vision for Alachua County Public Schools.
This praise came a day after a searing petition from community members was presented to the board suggesting they had no faith in Simon’s leadership as superintendent of schools.
Simon was appointed acting superintendent on Dec. 7 and said she had time to observe the school environment and come up with ideas on how best to move forward.
“And then I started to build that into a kind of stream of thought that became an organizational plan, which will also help guide decisions on what I think are the important steps that need to be taken in the district. “she said. mentionned.
In her 108-slide presentation, she spoke about the school district’s goals, the progress she’s made as superintendent, her new organizational chart for administration, and an expected $ 90 million windfall from the ESSER, the Emergency Relief Fund for Elementary and Secondary Schools.
Simon’s reorganization plan
Simon presented her reorganization plan on May 18 at a board meeting where she was then greeted with apprehension and skepticism, especially after nine school system administrator positions were “not renewed” shortly. soon after.
“I ran an organization that was developed by the previous superintendent, so we are in this place where there has to be an organization in order to meet the needs of the current superintendent,” said Simon.
Twenty-seven new jobs were created as part of Simon’s organizational chart. Each of them reports to different chiefs, such as Chief of Police, Chief of Education and Learning, Chief of Equity Inclusion and Community Engagement, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.
Under the chief of police, there will be a head of safety and security. Simon said the person in this position will be responsible for making sure schools are safe and getting proper training.
The other new position that will report to the Chief of Police is that of Emergency Management Coordinator.
“This will be the person who sort of takes care of what the COVID task force was working on and would focus on things like you know hurricanes and shelters and all the things that happen when our school facilities actually become. urgent installation, ”said Simon.
The new and changed positions that are the subject of Simon’s reorganization have to do with the $ 90 million ESSER funding that the district is expected to receive.
“I believe that in order to be able to facilitate the work that needs to be done with ESSER, with the community, I need the team that I am working on,” said Simon.
ESSER funding will go towards technology, the implementation of summer learning activities and the provision of mental health support.
About 20% of the funds will need to be spent on the learning loss that occurred during the pandemic.
While some residents and especially school board chairwoman Leanetta McNealy praised Simon after his presentation, things weren’t so rosy the day before.
On Tuesday, there were cheers after a petition with over 1,000 signatures was presented to the school board, targeting Simon’s leadership.
The change.org petition, titled “A Vote of No Confidence” was delivered to the board of directors by a group called “Citizens of Alachua County”.
Glen Springs Elementary grade one teacher Alicia Patterson presented the petition.
the petition reads: “Over the past 6 months we have seen Dr Simon’s abrupt acting appointment to quick permanent appointment, we have had concerns about Dr Simon’s leadership especially regarding trust, collaboration , decision-making, vision, communication, disrespect for parents and staff, and inability to create positive working relationships with staff and the community.
The petition was created on May 28 and had 1,074 signatures on Wednesday evening.
However, others at Tuesday’s meeting expressed strong support for Simon, who took office pushing change on multiple fronts, including failing to renew the contracts of nine senior school system administrators, including announcing a decision to reorganize the administration of the school system and announcing plans to redesign school zones across the county.
Simon said on Wednesday that the school’s rezoning plan will be pushed back further into the future.