Lawmaker Wants Teachers To Grade Parents

March 30, 2011

If teachers are being graded for their student’s performance, is it only fair that parents also be held accountable for how well-prepared the student is?

That’s the question a House committee pondered Tuesday when it took up HB 255, by Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. The bill would require teachers in grades Pre-K through 3 to grade parents on their involvement, including factors like homework completion, whether the child is physically prepared for class and their absences.

“It’s not grading whether the parent fed a three-course breakfast or what time they went to bed, but is that child prepared for school?” Stargel said. “It’s mostly so we can identify those parents who are not involved.”

Stargel said the intent is not to punish those parents, but to figure out what can be done to motivate or help them.

“We all know a more involved parent (has) a more successful student,” Stargel said.

Some lawmakers questioned whether the bill was inappropriately targeting parents who do not have significant amounts of time to devote to homework preparation and test quizzing.

“How will the grading system be fair to that parent who wants to have that involvement but his or her financial situation won’t allow that to happen?” asked Rep. Charles Chestnut, D-Gainesville.

The Florida Parent Teacher Association spoke out against the bill. “Mandating one more school accountability issue is not the best idea at this time,” said Cindy Gerhardt, the President of Florida PTA. “We love the bill, but we don’t feel that the teacher having to grade the parent is really going to improve that relationship.”

The concept of grading parents has caught a lot of flack, Stargel admitted, and said whether it would work is “up for debate.”

“What I do like about a grade is it is a clear measure of your accountability,” Stargel said. Lawmakers said charter schools have long required parents to sign contracts promising a certain level of monitoring and involvement.

The concept of grading parents is not totally foreign to Florida public schools. In rural Gadsden County, near Tallahassee, the school district has adopted a grading system called “Different Levels of Parent Involvement.”

Gadsden County Parent Services Coordinator Audrey Lewis told the committee the Gadsden initially considered a more formal “grade” but that parents pushed back.

By just changing the name to the DLOPI acronym, Lewis said, more parents came on board.

The program now ranks parents on five different categories, from attendance, to communication with teachers, tutoring, volunteer effort and leadership. “Parent involvement is not all about carnivals and bake sales,” Lewis said.

The bill appears unlikely to pass this year, though it may provide a preview of the Legislature’s education agenda for next year. The House committee took no vote on the bill Tuesday and with just about a month to go in the session and no movement on a Senate companion, its prospects appear slim.

By Lilly Rockwell
The News Service of Florida

Police Seek Info On Photos In Sexual Abuse Case

March 30, 2011

An aggressive attempt is continuing by law enforcement to identify a daycare facility attended by a female child believed to have been sexually abused.

On December 14 of last year, the Pensacola Police Department received a report from the Loaves and Fishes Thrift Store on North Palafox Street  that a digital camera containing a disk with a photo of a female child possibly being sexually abused had been left as a donation.

Also on the disk were pictures of children in a daycare setting participating in what is believed to have been a Christmas program in 2006. The daycare center does not appear to be directly related to any sexual abuse.

As a result of the disk, Detective Chris Wilkinson has visited dozens of area daycare facilities in schools, churches and stand-alone businesses and interviewed numerous people, but has been unable to identify any of the children included in photos.

Wilkinson said the children included in the photos may have attended the same facility.

Anyone having information or who believes they might be able to identify the facility is asked to contact Wilkinson at (850) 435-1965.

Pictures: Photos from a camera donated to a Pensacola Thrift Store. Police believe another photo from the camera shows a female child possible being sexually abused. Submitted photos for, click to enlarge.

ECUA Names Citizens’ Advisory Committee Member

March 30, 2011

A volunteer tutor was named to the Emerald Coast Utility Authority’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee.

Louise Ritz was named too the at-large seat formerly held by Logan Fink. A total of 15 local residents had applied for the vacant position.

Ritz becomes the 12th member of the CAC, which is comprised of five ECUA board members, five appointed citizen members and two at-large citizens members.

The CAC meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month and are open to the public. The meetings take place in the ECUA Board Room located in the Human Resources building, 9250 Hamman Avenue in the Ellyson Industrial Park.

Former Atmore Police Chief, Emergency Director Passes Away; Former Pensacola Chief Dies

March 30, 2011

A former Atmore Police chief and Escambia County (Ala.) Emergency Management director has passed away, and a retired Pensacola Police Chief has also died.

William Edward “Bill” Smith, Escambia, Alabama

William Edward “Bill” Smith, 68, died Sunday at his residence. Smith served as Atmore Police chief for many years in late 1970’s into the 1980’s before becoming Escambia County EMA director.

Funeral services for William Edward “Bill” Smith will be held today at 10 a.m. at the Atmore Memorial Chapel Funeral Home with  Bro. Robert Thower officiating. Interment will follow in Oak Hill Cemetery.

For the complete obituary, click here.

Drexel P. Caldwell, Pensacola

The Pensacola Police Department’s oldest living retired Chief of Police has died.

Drexel P. Caldwell died Monday in Pensacola. He was 96.

“Chief Caldwell was instrumental in transitioning the Pensacola Police Department into the professional organization it is today,” said Chief Chip W. Simmons. “He was a life-long public servant the Pensacola Police Department was honored to have as one of its leaders.”

D.P. Caldwell, as he was known, was hired by the department as a police officer on May 4, 1946. He was promoted to Chief in 1962 and served the community in that capacity until he retired July 12, 1974.

He then served as a narcotics investigator for the State Attorney’s Office from 1976 – 1978. Part of his responsibilities in that job were to command a narcotics task force for the First Judicial Circuit, said his son David Caldwell.

Chief Caldwell was credited with organizing the first local police academy and with giving more attention to safety and crime prevention programs. He also was interested in the department sponsoring Scout troops, the police athletic league and school boy patrol programs.

David Caldwell said his father served in the U.S. Army from 1935 – 1938 and then was a lieutenant/security officer during World War II at the main gate to the Pensacola Naval Air Station. He worked at NAS from 1942 – 1946 when he was hired by the Pensacola Police Department.

Among his survivors are his wife of 72 years, Gladys Caldwell; three sons and one daughter.

Visitation will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday (March 31) at Pensacola Baptist Temple, 5000 Cerny Road, located at the corner of Muldoon and Cerny roads. The funeral service will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday at the church with burial following at Bayview Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Pensacola Baptist Temple Mission Board.

Geraldine “Gerry” Henderson Davis

March 30, 2011

Geraldine “Gerry” Henderson Davis, 71, went home to be with the Lord on March 29, 2011,at a local hospital.

She was a native of Flomaton and longtime resident of Century. She retired from the Escambia County School District after 23 years of service. She was a devoted member of Faith Bible Baptist Church and taught the “Dorcus” Sunday school class for many years until her illness inhibited her. She also loved to travel, spend time with grandchildren and help her neighbors.

She is preceded in death by her parents John and Katie Henderson; sister Catherine Chessher Brown; son-in-law Jim Rice; and granddaughter Jeri Denise Davis.

She is survived by devoted and loving husband of 55 years, Willie Lee Davis; children: Marilyn Rice, Billy (Karen) Davis, Keith Davis all of Century, Jackie (Jason) Thomas of Jay, Susan (Daniel) Macks, of McKenzie, AL; 12 grandchildren;11 great grandchildren; special sister-in-law Charlotte Toop; siblings Wayne Henderson of Flomaton, Glenda Hayes of Jay, Mike Henderson of Mobile, Kenny (Maria) Henderson of Theodore, AL, Gale Shepherd of Theodore, AL, Joyce Grissett of Irvington, AL, Donald (Kristine)
Henderson of Mobile and a host of nieces, nephews and many dear friends.

Visitation will be 5-8 p.m. March 31, 2011, at Flomaton Funeral Home.

Funeral services will be held on Friday, April 1, 2011, at 10 a.m. at Faith Bible Baptist Church with Rev. Robert Barrow and Rev. Gene Stokes officiating. Interment will follow in Byrneville United Methodist Church Cemetery.

Honorary Pallbearers will be Wayne Henderson, Kenny Henderson, Mike Henderson, Donald Henderson, James White, Wade Dunsford and Randy Murph.

Health Care Opt Out Advances

March 30, 2011

Moving toward a 2012 ballot fight, a House subcommittee on Tuesday approved a proposed constitutional amendment that might allow Floridians to opt out of a key part of the federal health overhaul.

The House Health & Human Services Quality Subcommittee voted 10-4 along party lines to approve House Joint Resolution 1. The full Senate has already passed its version of the measure.

The proposed amendment says, in part, that “a law or rule may not compel, directly or indirectly, any person or employer to purchase, obtain, or otherwise provide for health care coverage.”

Supporters hope that would allow Floridians to opt out of what is known as the “individual mandate” — part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that eventually will require almost all Americans to have health insurance.

The Florida Supreme Court rejected a similar proposed amendment last year because of misleading ballot wording. Sponsors removed the disputed wording from the new version and want to ask for voter approval in November 2012.

Sponsor Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, told the subcommittee that the individual mandate is “against what our country was founded on.”

But Democrats have long contended that Floridians can’t opt out of the federal health law because of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, said he thinks the proposed amendment “frankly is philosophical rambling.”

Billy Ray Stafford

March 30, 2011

Billy Ray Stafford, 72 of Atmore,died Monday March 28, 2011, at his residence. He was retired from Scott Paper Co. (Kimberly Clark).

He was born in Monroe County, on December 05, 1938, to the late Calvin Howard and Sallie Mae Bell Stafford. He was a very loving husband, father and grandfather.

He was preceded in death by two brothers, Calvin LaDon Stafford and William Howard Stafford.

He is survived by his wife, Doris Mae Conway Stafford; one son, Kelvin Julius Stewart and wife, Anne; one daughter, Karen Julia Clements and husband Michael all of Atmore; one brother, Julian Robert Stafford of Frisco City, Ala.; three grandchildren, Brett Clements, Lauren Stewart and Rachel Stewart, and many friends.

Services will be Thursday March 31, 2011, at 10 a.m. from Johnson-Quimby Funeral Home Chapel in Atmore with Bro. Mike Grindle officiating. Interment will follow in Conway Cemetery.

Active Pallbearers will be LaDon “Scooter” Stafford, Daryl Singleton, Bobby Wooten, Shane Stafford, Eric Stafford, and Melvin Byrd.

Family will receive friends Wednesday evening March 30, 2011 at Johnson-Quimby Funeral Home from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Johnson-Quimby Funeral Home, Inc is in charge of all arrangements.

Allen Earl Cash

March 30, 2011

Mr. Allen Earl Cash, “The Music Man”, died Saturday, March 26, 2011. He was 65.

He was born in Brewton on December 1, 1945, to Willard and Cora Cash. Allen attended Pollard-McCall Jr. High School and Flomaton High School. Allen was a talented artist and after high school he moved to Chicago to play music with two of his brothers where they played in lounges, theaters, and banquet halls. He moved to Nashville where he became a record producer and worked with many top artists in the country music industry and he started his own record label that produced many great songs. He moved to Salinas, CA where he became sales manager at a major automobile complex.

Allen was diagnosed with heart failure and received a heart transplant at the age of 50 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. Allen’s heart was touched by Sarah Riley. He moved back to Creola, AL to be close to his family roots and his love of music. He continued to promote artists and produce records and recording sessions until his health deteriorated. Even with all of the major health problems, aches, pains and frustrations, he never complained. His positive attitude wil be admired by family and friends forever. He established a non-profit organization called “OTR” Organ Transplant Recipients to help recipients and their families cope with the obstacles involved with such a procedure.

Allen leaves behind five children, Allen Cash, Jr., and wife Sandi of Vail, AZ, Erin May of Nashville, TN, Adam cash and wife Dawn of Nashville, TN, Ryan and Matthew Cash of Salinas, CA; brothers, Barney and wife Irene Cash of Century, FL, O.D. and wife Betty Cash of Flomaton, AL, George and wife Ann Cash of Bay Minette, AL, Gene and wife Aggie Cash of Franklin, TN, Odell and wife Linda Cash of Huntsville, AL, William Cash of Mobile, AL, Milford Cash of San Antonio, TX; sisters, Dorothy McCurdy of Century, FL, Bobbie and husband Clifford Frazier of Flomaton, AL, Joyce and husband Al Erskin of Chattory, WA, Shirley and husband Wayne Owens of Flomaton, AL, Rebecca “Becky” Cash of Pensacola, FL, Linda and husband, Roy Batie of Brewton, AL, Wanda Cash of Brewton, AL; grandchildren, Adam, Jr., Tyler, Kylie, Alexa, Colby, Joseph, and David; Great-grandson, Thomas. He was preceded in death by a sister, Mildred Faye Cash.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 2, 2011, at 1 p.m. at the Flomaton Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Troy Bland officiating. A visitation will be held from 12 noon until service time at 1 p.m.

Body Found In Bayou Chico Is Former Atmore Resident

March 30, 2011

A body found in Bayou Chico Tuesday night has been identified as John Hawkins, an Atmore native who jumped from a sailboat Monday night.

Thomas Hawkins IV, 35, is a resident of Orange Beach, but family members say his is originally from Atmore. Pensacola Police said an autopsy will be done to determine cause of death.

A man called 911 around 7:15 Tuesday night after finding Hawkins in Bayou Chico, said Sgt. Stephen Davis.

Pensacola Police were initially dispatched to the Pensacola Shipyard area, 700 S. Myrick St., around 7:25 p.m. Monday after receiving a call that Hawkins had jumped into the water and could not be found.

Hawkins and his wife Angela, also 35, had been staying on a friend’s docked sailboat. Angela Hawkins told police she and her husband had been swimming all day and that her husband had been drinking. She said she was near the rear of the boat when she heard her husband, who is a good swimmer, jump from the front.

After about 10 to 15 minutes, Angela Hawkins said she began looking for her husband but couldn’t find him. At that point, she notified a security guard and when they still could not locate him, police were called.

Differences Emerge On Florida Budget As Plans Move Toward Votes

March 29, 2011

With the House and Senate both preparing to vote on plans to close a $3.75 billion budget shortfall by the end of this week, attention was quickly turning to differences the two chambers would have to negotiate when conference committees start meeting next month.

Grabbing much of the attention Tuesday was a proposal in the Senate to save tens of millions of dollars with a broad prison privatization push that would include prisons across essentially the southern third of the state. The House proposal is more modest, privatizing prisons in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, said the proposal could save as much as $70 million. But Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, criticized the method of pushing the proposal through.

“I think it’s particularly egregious when you put something into a budget and don’t give people the opportunity to have a substantive discussion in a committee about the issue,” Rich said Tuesday.

“Anything that has that kind of price tag is subject to being considered by the budget committee,” Alexander said.

Rep. Rich Glorioso, the Plant City Republican who oversees the House corrections budget, said his chamber would likely be open to a wider privatization plan.

“We’re open to good, solid decision-making with privatization,” Glorioso said. “If it can be done cheaper and safe and more efficient, it makes sense. The key is, ‘as safe.’”

Also on the table:

A Senate proposal to privatize prison medical services statewide. The upper chamber included that plan, and $75 million in savings from it. Glorioso said he was open to the notion.

The difference between the two chambers on K-12 education is relatively modest. The per-student spending in the Senate plan would come in at $6,388, a drop of 6.2 percent from last year. The House wants to spend $6,349 per student, a 6.8 percent cut.

Though that’s the lowest in per-student funding in many years, lawmakers cautioned that the numbers are skewed because of the assumed impact of requiring employees to contribute toward the Florida Retirement System, essentially taking that amount of pensions spending off the books.

Both budgets cut programs dealing with mentorship, teacher training and awards and public broadcasting, but neither is as stringent as Scott’s proposed education budget, which included a 10 percent cut in education funding.

The plans do differ significantly in their treatment of new construction projects in the state university system.

The Senate budget provided funding for eight new construction projects across the state university system, from a physics classroom building that would cost $7.8 million at The University of Central Florida, to a new school of pharmacy at the University of South Florida with a price tag of $10 million.

In total, the Senate wants to restore $80 million for new construction projects. These projects were approved by the Legislature last year but vetoed by former Gov. Charlie Crist. The House does not include funding for new construction, only $44.8 million for repairs and maintenance.

The Senate includes a similar amount for repairs and maintenance, plus the money for new construction. In a letter to the State University System Board of Governors, Chancellor Frank Brogan said “at a time when funding is particularly scarce,” the system was gratified to receive money for repairs and new construction.

The proposals also include wide differences in health and human services.

Overall, the House would spend $29.2 billion in the six agencies included in the health- and human-services budget, about $800 million more than the Senate proposal.

Both proposals would rely heavily on cutting hospital and nursing-home Medicaid rates to balance the budgets. For example, the Senate would cut hospital rates by about $438 million, while the House would reduce them about $298 million.

The Senate also plans to dramatically shrink the Medically Needy program, which provides care for people who have catastrophic illnesses but do not meet the regular qualifications for Medicaid.

The Senate would stop paying hospital and drug costs for medically needy patients in April 2012, though it would continue paying for physician services. That move would save about $230 million next fiscal year.

In another major difference, the House would eliminate $50 million for biomedical research conducted at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and other facilities. The Senate would continue funding the research, though it would change how the money is distributed.
And one of the usual differences is back, with the House proposing to raid the State Transportation Trust Fund for $330 million.

House Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee Chairman Mike Horner has said that the sweep is in line with Gov. Rick Scott’s recommendations for transportation funding, but conceded it would still trigger some delays in the Department of Transportation’s five-year work plan.

The Senate has long featured bipartisan support for maintaining transportation funding, contending that it creates jobs. Both Rich and Alexander said Tuesday they oppose sweeping the fund, though the budget chairman refused to rule out being forced to do so in conference.
“I don’t want to,” he said. “I think it’s a terrible policy.”

By Brandon Larrabee and Lilly Rockwell
The News Service of Florida

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