Sarasota County Schools News

Alta Vista Elementary holds ‘Eagle Fest’ for summer students, families

 Permanent link

SCS News

SARASOTA, July 28, 2016 – Alta Vista Elementary School will hold its Eagle Fest to celebrate a summer of learning and fun from 5-7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 4, as the fifth year of the school’s Eagle Academy draws to a close.

The event, designed for students and their families who attended the school’s summer learning session, known as the Eagle Academy, will include a cookout, community agency booths and family activities, including games on the field, a photo booth, arts and crafts, inflatables and more.

South Shore Community Church, which is partnering with the school to host the event, will provide each Eagle Academy student with two uniform items for the upcoming regular school year, which starts Monday, Aug. 22.

“Our students worked hard on academics during the morning, enjoyed STEAM activities in the afternoon, exploring science, technology, engineering math and the arts,” said Principal Barbara Shirley. “Their parents participated in a wide variety of classes on Thursday evenings through our Parent University. Some parents earned their General Equivalency Diploma, or GED, while others will graduate from our Certified Nursing Assistant program. We’re pleased to celebrate the successes of students and parents and thank the many people and organizations who make the Eagle Academy possible.”

Alta Vista Elementary School is located at 1050 S. Euclid Ave., Sarasota. 

Booker High names alumnus as new boys basketball coach

 Permanent link

Markus Black CORRECT-BHS boys hoops coach July 2016

BACK AT BHS: Booker High grad Markus Black has returned as the school's new boys basketball coach.

SARASOTA, July 21, 2016 - Booker High School has announced its new boys head basketball coach. Markus Black, a 2006 Booker High graduate and former Tornadoes basketball player, will replace Phil Helmuth in the coaching role. Helmuth has been named the school’s athletic director.

Black’s longstanding history with Booker High School has been marked with achievement. Under varsity boys basketball coach Derrick Kirce, the Tornadoes won the state championship in 2006, with Black as point guard. Black coached the junior varsity boys’ team for the 2015-16 school year, and the team went undefeated. He credits Kirce for teaching him much about the game that he can bring to the head coach position.

At BHS, Black was a student in the school’s Visual and Performing Arts program. He went on to graduate from the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University with a degree in graphic design. He has used these talents in the sports world as well, serving an internship with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers creating marketing programs. He hopes to join Booker’s teaching staff in the 2016-17 school year.

A devout Tornado who “bleeds purple and gold,” Black said he wants to focus this year on returning glory and attention to the Booker High Athletics Department and to the school at large.

“Even with the VPA program bringing a lot of positive attention to the school, people don’t realize what a great school Booker is,” he said. “I feel like it’s a gem. We’ve had so many athletic championships, but somewhere along the line that got lost. I want to help restore that.”

Booker High School administration and athletics departments see the potential in Black to do just that.

“Markus is a phenomenal asset to the school,” said Booker High Principal Rachel Shelley. “His connection with the kids and the rapport he’s managed to establish are just incredible. I am very confident he’ll help our athletes not only be great on the court, but find success after high school.”

Athletic director Phil Helmuth, who has worked with Black for a few years, said he thinks the new head coach will take the team to new heights.

“Markus has certain intangibles that are going to serve him well. I believe he’s one of the up-and-coming coaches in the area,” Helmuth said.

Black’s attention this year will be trained on increasing enthusiasm among the team members, school and community.

“I’m going to bring back the hard work and grit that Booker’s known for,” Black said, “And I think we’re going to shock a lot of people! Everyone in the Booker Nation better get ready and be prepared for what’s to come.”

Booker High School is located at 3201 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota.

Parents urged to get students vaccinated before school starts Aug. 22

 Permanent link

Imunization-stock photo girl with bandage

HEALTHY AND READY FOR SCHOOL: Parents are urged to get the required immunizations for their children before school starts.

This news release is from the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County. 

SARASOTA COUNTY, July 14, 2016 - The school year is right around the corner. As you prepare your “to do” list, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) reminds parents updated vaccines are required for kindergarten and 7th grade in all Florida schools. A completed DH 680 form is required for registration in Sarasota County public schools. The form is available through your child’s pediatrician and at DOH-Sarasota.

Vaccine-preventable diseases like whooping cough, measles and meningitis can spread quickly in school settings. Therefore, students without required immunizations will be sent home from public schools on the first day of school. In addition, they will not be able to ride the bus or participate in sports, band or other extracurricular activities until the school has the DH 680 form showing they have received the required immunizations.

Health officials say the meningococcal meningitis vaccine, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, which protects against many types of cancer, and the Hepatitis A vaccine are recommended vaccines for adolescents. These can be given when your 7th grader gets the required Tdap vaccine which protects against Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis or whooping cough.

“Students who may be anxious about getting a shot should know the sting lasts only a moment. The consequences of not fully vaccinating your child can be devastating and last a lifetime,” says DOH-Sarasota Immunization Program Manager Donna Keith.                                                                

Local health officials ask as parents weigh the decision to fully vaccinate their children they review scientific information from reputable sources such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These sources address parent concerns about vaccines to autism connection and other health issues. Your health care provider can also share scientifically accurate and up-to-date information about vaccines with you.                                          
Below is resource information for parents. Visit our website for hours, locations and facts about vaccines. 

Florida school vaccine requirements:

American Academy of Pediatrics: 

Centers for Disease Control:

Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County:

Immunizations are available at DOH-Sarasota locations: 

William L. Little Health and Human Services Center 
Call for Hours 
2200 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota

North Port Health Center 
Call for Hours 
6950 Outreach Way, North Port                          

• No cost for children through age 18
• Walk in (no appointment needed)
• Parent/Guardian must accompany child
• Bring shot records and insurance card if your plan covers immunizations

About the Florida Department of Health
The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts. Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit

Sarasota High has new principal, next leader sought for North Port High

 Permanent link

David Jones

NEW PRINCIPAL FOR SHS: David Jones has been named the next principal of Sarasota High School, effective Aug. 1.

UPDATE: The North Port High School community provided input on the qualities desired in the next principal at a meeting at the school July 26; other people submitted input in writing. The feedback will be included in the job posting for the new principal.     

SARASOTA, July 20, 2016 – Following the July 14 announcement by longtime Sarasota High School Principal Jeff Hradek that he will retire from the district July 29, current North Port High School principal David Jones has requested the SHS principal position. Superintendent Lori White has granted the request. Jones will start his new assignment Monday, Aug. 1. The North Port High principal position is expected to be posted to the district website July 28. White expects to name the next principal of NPHS before classes start Aug. 22 for the 2016-17 school year.

Hradek has been principal of Sarasota High since 2003. He also served as principal of Brookside Middle School and as an assistant principal at Brookside and Laurel Nokomis School. Before joining the Sarasota County School District in 1994 he was a teacher and later an assistant principal at schools in Sandusky and Rocky River City, Ohio.

In his email to staff last week, Hradek wrote, “As of July 29 I will be retiring after a 39-year career in education. It has been a great journey and my 13 years as principal of SHS have certainly been some of the most rewarding of my career. I want to thank all of you for your professionalism, commitment to your students and friendship over this time period. Sarasota High students have been, and will continue to be, fortunate to have you there to both challenge and care for them.”

For Jones, the move will be a homecoming of sorts. He began his career with the Sarasota County Schools at Sarasota High in 2005; he spent five years as a math teacher and then as an assistant principal at the school. In July 2010 he was named principal of McIntosh Middle School in Sarasota. He became principal of North Port High in July 2012.   

Jones began his career as an educator in 1990 in the Douglas County School District of Colorado. He taught math, technology and health courses at Cresthill Middle School and served as the Math Department chairman. He was named an “Outstanding Teacher” by the district.

In a message he sent to his North Port High colleagues, Jones wrote, “It has been an absolute honor working among such an outstanding staff for the past four years. You have successfully established the University of Cambridge AICE program and seen its first graduates. You have supported and worked to witness the official Visual and Performing Arts magnet program soar to unprecedented levels. The efforts of this staff have put our JROTC program into an elite position with national recognition. Hundreds of stories of successes and honors are the fruit of your labors. And underlying everything, you work tirelessly to ensure that our students learn as much as possible every day. I could not be more proud to have been affiliated with you these past four years.” 

Jones said he is excited to return to Sarasota High. “Jeff Hradek has done a great job leading the SHS team and I hope to build on that success,” Jones said.


Alta Vista Elementary dad inspired by school to continue his education

 Permanent link

Michael Byrd and family-Alta Vista Eagle Academy 2015

PROUD FAMILY: A recent graduate of the GED program offered on the Alta Vista Elementary campus by the staff of Suncoast Technical College, Michael Byrd celebrates earning his GED with his three children, who are Alta Vista students. Pictured from left are fourth-grader Malik Byrd, father Michael Byrd, second-grader Makilya Byrd and first-grader Myron Byrd.

SARASOTA, July 18, 2016 – Last summer, something awoke inside Michael Byrd. The single father of three dropped his three children off at elementary school and noticed information about the General Equivalency Degree program for adults offered on the same campus. Although it had been years since he’d stepped into a classroom, the idea appealed to him.

“The opportunity presented itself and I made the commitment to earn my GED,” says the proud dad. He wanted a better life: one in which he wasn’t always struggling to get ahead and that would show his kids there’s a better way.

He found the help he needed at Alta Vista Elementary, a federally designated Title I school with a large number of students from financially challenged families. With the establishment in 2013 of the Eagle Academy, Alta Vista became the first school in the Sarasota County School District to adopt an innovative and comprehensive model of approaching education, shifting from a student-focused to a two-generation focus. The new model was the result of a strong partnership among several generous community partners, which include Suncoast Technical College and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Two-generation-focused programs, like those at Alta Vista Elementary, provide opportunities and meet the needs of vulnerable parents and children together. While they were already adept at meeting the needs of children at the school, the school’s adult education program focuses on enriching the lives of parents.

While it was Byrd’s drive and dedication that ultimately made him successful, he had a supportive team working with him along the way. With the guidance of Carole Clarke, the adult education career coach at Suncoast Technical College, Byrd returned to school last summer, completing the GED program in a few short months. He has the proud distinction of being the first graduate of the program in December 2015.

“This is the first time in a while someone has believed in me,” Byrd said, referring to Clarke. But Byrd’s journey didn’t end with earning his GED. During the school year he drops off his children Malik, Makiyla and Myron at Alta Vista every morning, then hurries south to the main campus of Suncoast Technical College in Sarasota, where he takes marine services technology classes. Clarke continues to play a pivotal part in Byrd’s academic life as he works toward achieving his ultimate goal: owning his own business.

Stories like Byrd’s are becoming more common at Alta Vista Elementary, as parents take advantage of the opportunities offered on campus. In fact, the school’s two-generation approach has been so successful that many of its components are being replicated in three additional Title I elementary schools this summer: Tuttle, Gocio and Emma E. Booker, all in Sarasota.  

As a result of increased interest and inspiring successes like Byrd’s, Alta Vista Elementary and Suncoast Technical College have expanded their partnership. Additional opportunities for further education will be offered, including such diverse programs as certified nursing assistant, Microsoft

Office specialist, forklift operator and others offered year-round as the program grows. Parents of Alta Vista students are invited to attend classes taught by Suncoast Technical College instructors, held on the Alta Vista Elementary campus and guided by a supportive team.

This arrangement helps makes the transition to higher education and a career — often a daunting challenge for parents — less of an overwhelming endeavor and is sure to lead to more success stories like Byrd’s.

For more information about Alta Vista Elementary’s growing program, please contact Principal Barbara Shirley at 941-361-6400. Parents of Alta Vista Elementary students who are interested in enrolling may contact Jackie Ekstrom, school social worker, at 941-361-6400, ext. 51520, or at  

Alta Vista Elementary is located at 1050 S. Euclid Ave., Sarasota.


Booker High School names new girls basketball coach

 Permanent link

Loy Moore-BHS girls basketball coach July 2016

HOOPS HELMSMAN: Loy Moore is the new head coach of the Booker High girls basketball team.

SARASOTA, July 14, 2016 – Booker High School has announced its new girls head basketball coach, Loy Moore. He will lead the team and teach physical education courses at the school. Moore is a veteran coach and educator with more than 30 years of experience in high school and college athletics.

Booker High School Principal Rachel Shelley said that she’s confident that Moore’s versatility and experience will make him a tremendous asset to the school. Shelley said one of Moore’s greatest qualities is his commitment to academic as well as athletic excellence. “One hundred percent of his high school players not only graduate, but go on to college,” she noted.

Incoming Booker High Athletic Director Phil Helmuth said that Moore is, indeed, a great fit for the school. During a nationwide search of candidates Moore emerged as a great fit.

“His value system is solid,” Helmuth said. “He’s been around the block and he knows what he’s doing.”

Moore is not a stranger to southwest Florida. Although he had a career coaching high school and college coaching teams in his native Arkansas, he coached at the University of South Florida in the 1980s and fell in love with the area then. He has vacationed in Florida ever since.

“Now it’s time to make that vacation our life,” Moore said. “I’ve always wanted to move back to Florida.”

While the sunshine and waters attracted him to the area, Moore said it’s the staff of Booker High School that make this choice the right one for him.

“There just seemed to be a connection,” he said of meeting the interview staff, including Shelley, Helmuth and Assistant Principal Darby Larkin.

While in town interviewing, Moore had the opportunity to meet the team, and he said he’s excited to help the team continue its success. In the 2015-16 season, the Lady Tornadoes basketball team made it to the regionals, demonstrating speed and agility throughout the season.

The girls have been gearing up for the next year by attending conditioning sessions over the summer; most of the team will return for 2016-17. Moore recognizes their potential.

“This dedicated team of student athletes can go on to reach even greater heights,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with them.”

Booker High is located at 3201 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota.

District keeps ‘A’ grade, one of only three in state

 Permanent link

SCS News

SARASOTA COUNTY, July 11, 2016 – The Sarasota County School District is one of only three Florida school districts to receive an A grade for the 2015-16 school year, despite higher state expectations. In addition, Sarasota is one of only two of the state’s 67 districts to receive an A every year since grading began in 2004. School and district grades were released July 8 by the Florida Department of Education.

Statewide, the number of A schools declined from 1,184 in 2014-15 to 741 schools in 2015-16, while the number of C, D and F schools increased substantially. In Sarasota County, 76 percent of all district schools earned an A or B, while 24 percent received a C grade. Twenty-two of the district’s 50 graded schools earned an A grade, 16 were graded B and 12 received a C. There are no D nor F schools in Sarasota County. The numbers include traditional public schools and charter schools. 

The school grade calculation was revised substantially for the 2015-16 school year. Student achievement on the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA), which include end-of-course exams in middle and high school, is a major component of school grades. Middle and high school grades also include an acceleration component based on the achievement of students in high school and advanced coursework. High school grades are partially based on the schools prior year graduation rate.

School districts are graded on 11 components, including FSA results in English Language arts, math and science. District grades also include “learning gains” components in core subjects, including learning gains of the lowest-performing quartile of students compared to the previous year.

More information, including all school and district grades statewide for 2015-16 and previous school years, is available at

Search News Articles

Communications and Community Relations
Tracey Beeker, Director

Kelsey Whealy, Media Relations Specialist

Caroline Lee, Administrative Assistant;
Public Records Custodian, Peachjar eflyers 

Digital Communications
Mina Ajrab, Manager

Torie Ewald, Social Media Strategist

Katy Ellis, Social Media Producer

Phone: 941-927-4009 or
941-927-9000 ext. 74009
Fax: 941-927-2539
1960 Landings Boulevard
Sarasota, Florida 34231
Green 3rd Floor

Education Channel 20/33
John Flowerree, Manager

TBA, Engineer

Phone: 941-361-6355
Fax: 941-361-6358
4748 Beneva Road
Sarasota, Florida 34233

Community Involvement
Lyndsey Cantees, Coordinator

Jennifer Anderson, Administrative Assistant
Phone: 941-927-9000, ext. 31500
Fax: 941-361-6539
Green 1st Floor

Staff Listing