New organization criticizes the School Board.
Amid the turbulence of Volusia County Schools, with parents filling School Board meetings to protest proposed student uniforms, and teachers picketing outside schools over contract negotiations, a new force has arisen, called 3 Moms.
Three local mothers have been frequent speakers from the audience at School Board meetings, filling the board members’ ears with complaints about unclean schools, low teacher morale and spending time on uniforms instead of more important matters.
Board members have said they hear from many other people who do not share opinions with those who protest at meetings. They began to refer to the “three moms,” and the three decided to take on the mantle, even creating a “3 moms” Facebook page.
“We want to raise awareness and get parents and the community involved,” said Joanna Kaney Olivari, of Ormond Beach. “So many people are unhappy. It’s not just the three of us.”
Their stated purpose to “ensure the needs and priorities of the students and teachers of Volusia County are met.”
The moms recently organized three public forums, drawing a total of about 300 parents, teachers and school employees to talk about problems and opportunities in the school system. They hope to present their findings at a future School Board meeting.
“They’ve spent six months on uniforms,” Olivari said in a recent interview. “They are ignoring things that need to be done like making sure teachers are taken care of.”
The other two moms are Kim Short, of Port Orange, and Leslie LaRue, of DeLand.
At the public meetings, the attendees listed strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. At the last meeting at David C. Hinson, Sr., Middle School, strengths included caring parents and teachers, and the fact that the School Board is elected. Weaknesses included a school board with little school experience and too much structure with little creativity;
One person said she had been a teacher for 25 years and is now quitting.
“If you stay quiet, you’ll get what you asked for, which is nothing.”
ANDREW SPAR, president, Volusia Teachers Organization
“I can’t stand to see a student puke into a waste can because they are so nervous about a test,” she said. “I’m going to be a volunteer and advocate for the teachers.”
Others said it was important to vote, or even run for the School Board. Some warned of the state moving away from public education with voucher programs for private schools.
Also at the meeting was Andrew Spar, president of the Volusia Teachers Organization.
He urged the crowd to talk to other people, send emails to board members and write letters to newspapers.
“If you stay quiet, you’ll get what you asked for, which is nothing,” he said.
Another union, another impasse
On Feb. 11, negotiations broke down with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which includes cafeteria personnel, maintenance technicians and bus operators, and the School Board declared an impasse.
The district is also at an impasse with the Volusia Teachers Organization.
The talks with AFSCME reportedly broke down when the school district presented different figures for insurance when the final signing was set. In a press release, a School Board spokeswoman said they had made it clear that the earlier figures were estimates because the final numbers were not available.