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Pinellas School Board Candidates Agree on FCAT, Referendum

On Saturday morning, the Pinellas County School Board's candidates talked about a number of issues, including the FCAT and the property tax referendum.

On Saturday, candidates from school districts one and seven engaged in a public forum at the James B. Sanderlin Family Center.

District four's Robin L. Wikle and district five's Carol J. Cook are running uncontested and were not a part of the discussion panel on Saturday morning.

Candidates discussed high-stakes testing, like the FCAT, along with the upcoming vote on the referendum to continue a property tax that increases school funding.

Bye Bye FCAT? 

In light of the emergency rule that was created back in May to keep the failure rate unaltered, candidates were 8-1 in support of the resolution against high-stakes testing.

All were in favor of the resolution except for district seven candidate, Glen Gilzean. Gilzean said that he thought the state should have made its own resolution rather than using a national one. "I do believe that, in Florida, we do over test our students," Gilzean added.

In January  by Florida Gov. Rick Scott after . 

Gilzean went on to say that high-stakes testing is a part of continuing onto a secondary education, whether it is law school or college, so students should have some sort of testing experience before they move on. "We have to prepare them," Gilzean said.

Janet Clark, district one candidate, said that the FCAT in its current state is not what it was originally created to be. She said that she is against the uses of the FCAT scores. Clark said that the FCAT has gone from a diagnostic tool to gauge a student's progress to a method used to "grade schools and give teacher's raises."

Candidates Unanimously Support Referendum

Although the panel of candidates was in support of the referendum, the question remained on how to educate the public on the importance of the tax.

District seven candidate, Keisha Bell, said that her background in the area would give her an opportunity to spread the word, in person to the community.

"Education is where it starts, education is where it ends," said Bell. "We need someone that's really serious, not only about going to school board meetings, but also continuing a relationship within the community."

Salaries of teachers would be cut immediately if the referendum does not pass, the candidates said Sturday. Considering the fact that among the school districts, district seven is the lowest paid in teachers' salaries, the stoppage of the property tax would further cut those pays.

Saturday,  said that he was in support of the referendum because "quality teachers" make a difference in a student's success. "Anything that will help to put money back into our teacher's pockets, I support it 110%," Givens Jr. said.

The candidates 

District 1 (At Large)

  • Janet Clark
  • Jim Jackson
  • Elliott Stern 
  • Shelly Ladd-Gilbert

District 4

  • Robin Wikle

District 5

  • Carol J. Cook

District 7

  • Keisha Bell
  • Rene Flowers
  • Glenton “Glen” Gilzean
  • Corey Givens Jr.
  • Cassandra Jackson

Dates to remember

Aug. 14: Primary Election

Nov. 6: General Election

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