Support Alachua County School Board swearing-in ceremony Nov. 22

by Tina Certain, Alachua County School Board District 1

It’s hard to believe that the swearing in ceremony of the new Alachua County School Board members is just 12 days away, on Nov. 22. As I embark on my second term, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on where we have been and where we are going. 

While there is still much work to be done, I’m proud of a new initiative that has taken place. I recently organized a New Board Member Orientation for the incoming board members which included Supt. Andrew and administrative staff. 

We dedicated a day and a half to onboarding the new board members as well as providing the opportunity to build relationships and understand the current state of district operations. My goal was to get everyone off to a great start so we can all build a foundation to make informed decisions.  

This is the first Alachua County School Board orientation effort that I know of, and I believe it will serve the community well as the new board will be ready to hit the ground running later this month. 

I gave Each District Chief and administrator a questionnaire. The participants were asked a series of questions such as, “Purpose of position, measures of success, how their department/position is funded, recent wins/successes, and challenges.” 

Two intended outcomes of the orientation were collective learning and teambuilding. The ultimate goal was for the new board to gain knowledge of the district and to learn our role and responsibilities so that we can function as a coherent and unified governing unit able to provide direction to the superintendent. 

While we all may not agree on how to approach every issue, what’s important is that we all agree to work toward ensuring the best outcomes for ALL children in Alachua County Public Schools. To achieve this, we need a high functioning board focused on student learning, growth, and success.

Some of the most critical issues we will be tackling are: improving student achievement, developing a new strategic plan, addressing school overcrowding, determining the most efficient use of existing school buildings, improving strategies to recruit and retain staff, and addressing financial inefficiencies. 

Though we are committed to tackling these challenges, we all know the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” to be true. We will need the community to collectively participate to ensure a greater future for our students. 

Without partnership and collaboration, optimal progress will not be possible. Though there lie many challenges ahead, I am hopeful that with community support, we can enter a new paradigm.

On Nov. 22, at 10am, we look forward to joining the community at our swearing-in, which will be held outside on the west lawn of the District Office, 620 E. University Avenue, Gainesville, Florida. 

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