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Our Vision for the Upcoming 2020 School Year

A message from Superintendent Todd Bowden

Fall is my favorite time of year. Not only is it football season, it’s a time for students and staff to begin a new school year filled with excitement, anticipation and opportunity. It’s a time when indelible memories are made, friendships are formed and lasting impressions are garnered.

Sarasota County Schools has enjoyed a rich heritage of excellence. This last year, we received another A grade from the Florida Department of Education – our 16th year in a row – and our graduation rate continues to increase, ensuring even more students become college and career ready. Many of our schools excelled this year with three of our elementary schools jumping two grades, moving up from a C to an A. That’s an extraordinary feat, and I am proud of all our amazing teachers and school leaders to help our children be their best. 

Two years ago, we placed an emphasis on our middle and high school curriculum to help improve graduation rates and provide greater academic opportunities for our children. This strategy resulted in a four percent increase in students graduating and greater enrollment in our accelerated coursework. In addition, our AICE program was recognized by the University Cambridge’s AICE program, who bestowed the Mid-Size School District of Year award to Sarasota County Schools. This was an incredible honor as it provided international recognition for the hard-work our instructors provide every day in the classroom.

This last year, we focused on our elementary students and adopted new strategies and expanded programs such as the Summer Learning Academies, to provide a solid foundation from which learning can occur all year long. And it has paid off! We saw dramatic improvements in test scores and outcomes for students in grades K-3, especially those in the lowest quartile, and made learning fun and engaging for everyone. We are thankful to many of our community partners who understood the need to provide greater opportunities for our elementary students and invest in the long-term growth of their academic experience. But our work is not done. There is still much we need to do to improve outcomes for all our students and reduce the achievement gap that remains in our community. This will continue to be a primary emphasis next year and beyond.

Last year, the school district invested in the safety and security of our schools. In the 2019-20 school year, the Sarasota County Schools Police Department will oversee the entire School Resource Officer program and provide security in all our traditional public schools. We are excited for nearly 30 officers to join the department and support our most precious resource – our children. The police force, coupled with the district’s $20 million investment in hardening our school campuses will work to ensure the safety, security and well-being of everyone in our schools.

Our use of data-driven instruction that emphasizes the whole child will be especially important as we fulfill our vision for continued excellence in all our schools. We will continue to emphasize mental and behavioral health and the ongoing social and emotional well-being of our students. Our school leaders, teachers, counselors and others will continue to develop individual plans to meet the needs of all students. We will also continue our efforts to implement preventative programs such as The Civility Squad and the Crisis Text Line, a 24/7 service that connects students with trained counselors when they need them most. 

I love fall, and the possibility it brings for our students to reach their full potential. Everyone at Sarasota County Schools works hard to ensure the success of every student, every day and I am especially hopeful for the future of our students, school district and community. 

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