Return to Headlines

A Statement from Dr. Todd Bowden, Superintendent of Sarasota County Schools, on his Upcoming Annual School Board Evaluation

SARASOTA COUNTY, September 16, 2019

“Students throughout Sarasota County excelled during the 2018-19 school year thanks to our amazing school leaders, teachers, administrators and classified staff who worked together to contribute to their success. Our shared vision for maintaining our tradition of excellence in our schools has brought forth incredible results, including our 16th consecutive “A” grade from the Florida Department of Education. This was due in part to improvements in key content and academic areas, including language arts, math, science and accelerated coursework where we outperformed statewide averages. In addition, dedicated teams who support students needing additional instruction or support services have contributed to their overall well-being. The patronage from our community partners who are just as passionate as we are for improving student outcomes is extraordinary, and we are fortunate to have a community that helps foster student achievement. Our students are thriving under the care of their teachers and school leaders and I am hopeful for their future and the future of the school district. It has been an honor to serve as superintendent of this supportive community, and I look forward to our continued success and the success of all our students, every day.”

On Tuesday, the Sarasota County School Board will issue its annual evaluation of the superintendent during the 3 p.m. School Board meeting. In anticipation of the evaluation, Dr. Bowden prepared an overview of this year’s accomplishments to school board members for their review. Highlights from the 2018-19 school year include:


District Performance on State Accountability Measures:

  • “A” rated District for 16 consecutive years – every year grades have been awarded.
  • Maintained a high overall percentage of points earned – 67% on District grade.
  • Eight-point increase from 2017-18 to 2018-2019 (734-742) on District grade.
  • Increased in 5 of 11 measures of district performance.
  • Maintained in 4 of 11 measures of district performance.
  • Nine schools increased one or more letter grades from 2017-2018 to 2018-2019.
    • Three schools increased from a C to an A rating.
    • Five schools increased from a B to an A rating.
    • One school increased from a C to a B rating.
  • The high school Graduation Rate increased four points from 85.7 in 2016-2017 to 89.8 in 2017-2018 (lagged data).

Legislative Appropriation to Support Summer Learning:

  • Worked with Legislative Delegation and Lobbyist to secure $100K to support and expand Summer Learning.

Policy Review:

  • Worked with the School Board and completed a review of the district’s policy manual to strengthen and clarify processes and procedures to align with future goals.

Fiscal Management:

  • The Auditor General found no financial statement or federal award findings and there were no questioned costs during the 2017-18 audit period.
  • Auditor General did not identify any deficiencies in internal control over compliance that would be considered material weakness.
  • District received both the GFOA and ASBO awards for the 15th consecutive year:
    • Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) – Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
    • Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) – Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting.


General Fund Balance





Beginning Gross Fund Balance




Excess of Revenues and Transfer Over Expenditures




Ending Gross Fund Balance





Fund Balance Percentages





Ending Unassigned Fund Balance Percentage




Ending Financial Condition Ratio (F.S. 1011.051)





Focus on Curriculum and Instruction:

  • Striving Reader Plan was created and shared with all teachers to focus on Tiered Interventions.
  • Reading Recovery – 264 students were taught by 33 Reading Recovery teachers.
    • These teachers also taught 1,320 students in small groups in the second half of the day.
    • Reading Recovery teachers provided literacy professional development throughout the year to a total of 414 kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade teachers across 23 elementary schools.
  • College, Career and Life Readiness (CCLR) – Curriculum resources for monthly career clusters were provided to all elementary schools.
    • Sample lesson plans are being written and will soon be made available to all elementary teachers.
  • Expanded and Enhanced Summer Learning Academies (SLA)
    • SLA programs were expanded to 12 Title I schools and the afternoon.
    • STEAM programs at each school were enhanced.
    • Parent universities were well attended, and survey results were unprecedented.

Mental and Behavioral Health:

  • Assigned mental health therapists to most of the elementary schools through partnerships with multiple agencies and centers.
  • Trained staff on CHAMPS and Discipline in the Secondary Classroom.
  • Established the Staff Safety Committee to evaluate and recommend trainings and wellness programs to ensure the well-being of our employees.
  • Utilized the full resources of the crisis response and mental health teams to ensure students in need – especially at Brentwood Elementary and North Port High School – had the services needed to get through challenging times.

Data Dashboards:

  • Developed and Implemented 4 NEW Data Dashboards to assist with instruction and scheduling students. These new dashboards can be seen by administrators and instructional staff; they are NOT public as they contain student information.
    • Teacher Dashboard – Teachers can access how their current students performed in the past and how their past students performed in the future.
    • Current Student Academic Dashboard – Teachers and administrators can access current students’ past summative data.
    • School Grade Dashboard – Teachers and administrators can access teacher and student data within the school grade components over time.
    • Scheduler Helper – Administrators (those with whole school or district access) can access incoming students’ assessment data to assist with scheduling.

Operational Excellence:

  • Restructured the human resources department to emphasize recruitment and retention.
  • Designed and recruited for an investigator position to conduct large incident investigations and improve the process.
  • Successfully collaborated with the City of Sarasota Commission to permanently close School Avenue at Sarasota High School.
  • Launched the school district’s first-ever Farm to Table initiative, including student immersion and curriculum.
  • Launched the new website, generating more than 10 million views each year from parents, students, staff and the community.
  • Launched the first-ever REEL TALK Student PSA Film Contest in conjunction with the Sarasota Film Festival, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation.

School Safety and Security:

  • Established new leadership and department structure for the Sarasota County Schools Police Department.
  • Ensured full compliance in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act and its provisions.
  • Recruited and on-boarded more than 35 new staff members to serve in law enforcement and school safety and security roles.
  • Instituted partnership agreements and MOUs with the Sheriff’s Office, City of Sarasota, City of Venice and City of North Port for additional law enforcement services.
  • Nearly completed a $24MM renovation throughout the school district to harden schools with new front office designs for single-point-entry and campus fencing to improve security on campus.
  • Upgraded all intercom systems with new security specifications.

Strategic Partnerships with Local Foundations and Individual Donors:

  • Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation funded several initiatives.
    • The Teaching Academies at all high schools, including beginning Florida Future Teachers of America Club.
    • Innovative High School Intensive Language Arts and follow-up grant to motivate struggling readers and retain ILA teachers in those classrooms.
    • Closing the Literacy Gap built capacity in our 3 – 6 grade ELA teachers to collaborate on lesson planning and improve their craft by observing each other.
    • Crisis Text Line HERE4U: Spreading Hope grant allowed us to put signs in every middle and high school to ensure visibility of this valuable resource.
    • Extending Reading Recovery Literacy Toolkits to ALL K-1 teachers brought large tubs of multi-sensory resources into every K-1 classroom.
  • The Education Foundation
    • Teacher of the Year
    • STEM Fair
    • SRQ Hacks
    • CreateSRQ
    • EDExploreSRQ
    • School and teacher grants
    • Helped us add three Student Success Centers in our high schools and are looking at further expansion.
    • Continued leadership and financial support for multiple initiatives:
  • The Patterson Foundation
    • Funded a data position for RAE to enhance and expand our District Dashboards.
    • Summer Reading Challenge: funded incentives to motivate readers in SLA’s.
  • Community Foundation Sarasota County
    • SLA: provided financial support to 12 sites to improve STEAM enrichment and Parent University.
    • Suncoast Campaign for Grade-level Reading (with The Patterson Foundation) continues to provide support for achieving grade level reading by 3rd Grade.


  • Mid-Sized School District of the Year award from the University of Cambridge AICE program.
  • Teacher of the Year finalist, Shane Swezey named Top Five Teachers in Florida.
  • Booker Middle School was named a CFES Brilliant Pathways School of Distinction for 2018-19.
  • Brookside Middle School named the #1 VEX Robotics Team in Florida, #83 worldwide.


  • Maintained Florida Superintendent Special Certification through the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) and the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE)


Dr. Bowden learning about an Alta Vista student's project

PHOTO CAPTION:  Dr. Todd Bowden with Alta Vista Elementary Student.