November 2023 Monthly Family and Community Newsletter
November 2023 Family and Community Newsletter
Hello Families and Community Members:
As we approach the Thanksgiving Break, I am filled with gratitude for the wonderful community that makes up our Pasco County Schools family. This past week, community members filled our schools, inspiring our students and staff, as part of the Great American Teach-In. We are so grateful for the relationships forged and the partnerships strengthened.
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for the people and moments that enrich our lives. One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is the gift of time, and during this break, I encourage you to cherish quality moments with your loved ones. Whether it's sharing a meal, taking a walk, or simply enjoying each other's company, these moments create lasting memories.
Amidst the festivities, I would like to emphasize the importance of maintaining a balance between relaxation and preparation for the weeks ahead. As we celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving, let's also make a commitment to continue fostering a love for learning in our homes.
Reading is a wonderful way to unwind and connect with one another. Consider incorporating a family reading time into your holiday traditions. Choose a book that everyone can enjoy, and take turns reading aloud. It's a simple yet powerful activity that promotes literacy and family bonding, as well as contributes to our district-wide reading challenge, RACE to Read!
As we return from the break, let's channel the positive energy from our time together into a renewed focus on academic success. Encourage your children to come to school everyday ready to learn. In the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Winter Break, students can master new content, build new skills, and have breakthrough learning moments. Stay focused!
I am grateful for the collective effort of our dedicated educators, students, and families. Together, we can create a supportive and enriching environment for every child to be a World Class learner. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the success of our students.
Wishing you a joyful and restful Thanksgiving Break!
Looking for something to do over Thanksgiving Break?
R.A.C.E. to Read, Pasco!
Pasco County Schools is very excited to announce the launch of a district-wide, PreK-12 reading challenge for the 2023-2024 school year. All students and staff are invited to participate! The challenge is to collectively read 15 million minutes between August 10, 2023 – May 24, 2024. Minutes will be logged via Beanstack, and celebrations will be school based.
Learn more here: https://www.pasco.k12.fl.us/events/page/race-to-read and track the progress of our district!
Get ready to Read Across the County Everyday!!
Family Engagement Month!
November is Florida Family Engagement in Education Month, a time to celebrate the crucial role parents and families play in their children's education. When schools work together with families to support learning, children are more motivated to succeed, not just in school, but throughout life.
Family involvement in a child's life is critical to his/her success as a student from preschool through college and sets the foundation for preparing Florida's students to be life-long learners and meaningful contributors to society. Connecting home and school makes us a great community of learners!
To read and learn more about this state celebration please follow this link for more calendars, ideas, and resources to help families engage with kids!
Resources for Families
World Class Opportuntities
Social Studies Adoption
Pasco County Schools is engaging in a K-12 Social Studies adoption process for instructional materials to be implemented in the 24-25 school year. At this time we are narrowing resources to move forward for school and parent review in order to make a final recommendation to the School Board for the resource selected for each course. To find out which courses are being reviewed and for additional details visit https://www.pasco.k12.fl.us/oll_documents/current-adoption. There will be opportunities for parents to provide feedback and engage in meetings related to the narrowed resources. Stay tuned to the upcoming Pasco Posts and the district website for updated information.
Career and Technical Education: What is Career Dual Enrollment?
Dual enrollment is a program that allows secondary students, including home education and private school students to take post-secondary coursework and simultaneously earn credit toward a high school diploma, a career certificate, an associate or baccalaureate degree at a Florida public or eligible private institution.
What sets career dual enrollment apart from standard dual enrollment is that students also earn industry certifications through career and technical education programs.
What Career Dual Enrollment programs are currently available in Pasco?
Here's a list of the current programs offered at WKTHS (@Marchman Technical College), SLHS and KRAI, as well as the number of students currently enrolled in each of the programs. We expect to see these numbers increase as more students choose career dual enrollment through school choice!
Early Childhood Opportunities
Early Childhood Programs is currently accepting waitlist applications for Head Start and the Voluntary Pre-kindergarten Program for the 2023-24 school year. Parents may submit a waitlist application request for select schools by visiting the Early Childhood Programs website, www.pascoschools.org/ecp.
Early Childhood Programs will begin accepting applications for the free Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK) for the 2024-25 academic year, beginning on January 8, 2024, during the School Choice open application window.
The VPK Program offers 3 free hours of instruction Monday through Friday at select school sites. Extended hours are available for an additional fee of $125 per week. VPK extended hours will follow the school site’s regular bell schedule. Partial day VPK will be held the first 3 hours of the school day.
To be eligible to participate in the VPK program, children must be 4 years old on or before September 1, 2024. A Certificate of Eligibility/Voucher must be obtained from the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando prior to completing the Pasco County Schools VPK application.
Pasco County Schools VPK Sites for the 2024-2025 School Year:
*VPK Site (VPK Students Only)
**VPK Inclusion Site (VPK & ESE Students)
Chester W. Taylor Elementary**
Denham Oaks Elementary**
Double Branch Elementary**
Gulf Highlands Elementary**
Gulf Trace Elementary**
Hudson Primary Academy**
James M. Marlowe Elementary**
Kirkland Ranch K-8*
Lake Myrtle Elementary**
Mittye P. Locke Early Learning Academy*
Odessa Elementary** • Quail Hollow Elementary**
Seven Springs Elementary**
Seven Oaks Elementary**
For additional information, please contact Mikesha Hayes, VPK Coordinator at (813) 794-2730 or send an email to email@example.com
Family Information and Support
Virtual ESE/504 Parent Collaborative Network Meeting
Please see the information below, if you are interested in attending the upcoming ESE/504 Parent Collaborative Network Virtual Meeting. The intent of this collaborative session is to present topics in parent identified areas of need and to provide an opportunity to share new or important information and initiatives related to students with disabilities with an Individualized Education Plan or Section 504 Plan.
Registration closes 12/6/23. Once registration closes, the Teams virtual meeting links and additional information will be sent to those who registered. To Register, please Click Here.
Agenda - Virtual Sessions: December 13, 2023
Are You Missing Important Updates On Your Child?
Are you connected to your student's educational information? The parent portal is the way to do this! Also, if you are using your student's portal to access grades, etc., you may still be missing information that is sent to parents. Follow this link to create your portal. If you need additional support with creating your portal, or you have a portal, but can't access it, send us a message here and one of our support staff will assist you.
Have A Parent Portal, But Can't See Your Child's information?
Do you have a parent portal but still can't see your student's information? Once you are in your portal, you will see "FORMS". Select forms, then select "Link My Student".
Here is an informational sheet that may help.
Have you completed your Emergency Card Information?
In case of an emergency it is vital that your child's school has the most up to date contact information.
Have you completed your Parent/Guardian Consent Form?
Parents have the fundamental right to make informed, specific consent decisions that best support your child, please complete the form for your school to be aware of your choices for your child.
Have the myStudent Community Mobile App?
You're busy and we realize that it isn't always easy or convenient to access a PC or Mac. That's why we've made this fantastic free mobile app available for you, now with push notifications! Mostly all the same great web browser features of your myStudent Parent Portal now available to you while on-the-go! Send and Receive important messages from your child's teachers or complete necessary forms and update your information, at your convenience.
Exciting Employment Opportunity!
Our non-instructional staff members are the heart of our schools and serve in a wide range of roles. As part of our retention efforts and career growth opportunities, HREQ has a program that is offered to those employees who are looking to become teachers! Through our SRP to Teacher program, you can get up to 18 credit hours of tuition reimbursed every fiscal year, plus we cover the costs of textbooks!
But that’s not all, as a member who is a part of this program you can keep your hourly wage and benefits while you complete your final internship and any other required practicums. We ensure your paycheck is there to make sure you have a stable journey towards your dream career!
To be eligible, you must have completed one year of employment with Pasco County Schools, submitted a comprehensive application, obtained a letter of recommendation from your building administrator, and enrolled in a College of Education program with the aim of earning a degree in one of the following critical needs areas:
Early Childhood Education
Exceptional Student Education
Middle Grades Math/Secondary Math
Middle Grades Science/Secondary Science
Middle Grades ELA/Secondary ELA
The work our non-instructional staff performs is incredibly impactful. Interested in transitioning your career and fulfilling your future goals? Click the link below for more information about this program and apply for a role with Pasco Schools!
Apply Today! https://pasco.tedk12.com/hire/index.aspx
Center for the Arts At Wesley Chapel's first annual Winter Festival!
Kick off the holiday season at the CFA! Take a picture with Santa, make a craft with Mrs. Claus, enjoy a tasty holiday treat, and meet Old Ebenezer Scrooge at the 1:00 p.m. performance
of "A Dickens Tale" by Bright Star Touring Theatre –all included with the price of admission!
General Admission: $10.00
Kids 5 years old and under: FREE!
Tickets on sale now at www.CenterForTheArtsWesleyChapel.com
Premier Mobile Dental Van Program
The following dental services are offered on the Mobile Dental Van:
The dental health services are provided to Kindergarten through 5th-grade students. If you would like your student to be seen, please complete the Premier Dental Mach Form. Upon completion of the Mach form, Premier will send you a consent form for dental services which will enable your student to be seen on the dental bus. Complete the Mach form and the electronic consent as soon as possible so your student can be scheduled for this important health service. Students must have a completed consent form to be seen on the Premier Dental Van. Paper consent will be available in your student's school clinic if needed. The mobile dental van schedule is located here.
All students may be seen regardless of insurance status and in accordance with their insurance plans. For more information call Mobile Manager at 352-518-2000 ext. 9753.
Mittye P. Locke Early Learning Academy offers FREE 3-hour Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) Monday – Friday for children 4-years-old on or before September 1, 2023. VPK students can attend the whole school day for $100/week.
Before parents can apply for enrollment at Mittye P. Locke Early Learning Academy, a valid VPK Certificate of Eligibility must be obtained from the Pasco Hernando Early Learning Coalition.
To apply for the Voluntary Prekindergarten Program and obtain your VPK Certificate of Eligibility, please visit the ELCs website, https://familyservices.floridaearlylearning.com prior to completing the Pasco Schools VPK application request for Mittye P. Locke Early Learning Academy.
Before/After Care Opportunities
Important Safety Tips
The High Toll of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a significant public health and safety issue in the United States. As mobile technology usage rises, so does the potential for driving distracted. Although lawmakers at the state, federal and local levels are examining a wide variety of issues related to driver distraction, the most common concern is the distraction caused by cell phones and other technology in the car. The most recent statistics from the Florida State Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) recorded nearly 48,500 distracted driving crashes in the state in a single year. Those collisions killed 300 people and left 2,700 more with serious bodily injuries.
Distracted driving is one of the major causes of accidents occurring within school zones. Many drivers involved in school zone pedestrian accidents did not realize they were driving through a school zone when the accident occurred. Texting, talking on the phone, listening to music and other passengers in the car are a few things that can distract a driver’s attention from the road.
However, mobile devices are the most common cause of driver distraction. Nearly 303 million people in the United States have cell phones. At any given moment during the daylight hours, more than 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone. A study conducted by Zendrive found that Florida ranked worst of all the states in terms of unsafe driving in school zones. In addition, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association annual spotlight report shows the largest pedestrian fatality rates per 100,000 population was in Florida in 2022. Motorists must show extra caution to avoid accidents while driving through Florida’s school zones. School zone auto-pedestrian accidents occur with alarming frequency and can result in severe injuries and even accidental deaths. Every year over 100 children in the U.S. are killed while walking to or from school; another 25,000 sustain injuries in school zone accidents.
Texting is one of the most common and most dangerous distractions, with drivers taking their eyes, hands and mind off the road. Every year, about 400 fatal crashes are caused by texting and driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash, according to research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. While we all know it is dangerous, millions of Americans still pick up their phones while driving.
It only takes a moment of distracted driving to cause a tragic crash. Looking down to read a text is like driving blind. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that sending or reading a text at 55 miles per hour is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. While many of us believe we are safe drivers, about eight people die in crashes involving a distracted driver every day in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Stopping distracted driving should be a top safety priority in Pasco County and the State of Florida. Despite the laws forbidding texting and driving, many people still feel compelled to text and drive. Keep in mind the goal, which is to ensure safety for yourself and those around you. Thousands of people die every year from preventable accidents, and it only takes a second to change your life. Each one of us behind the wheel has a responsibility to drive safely. You are not just driving for you when you’re out there on the road. You are also driving for everyone around you.
Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles https://www.flhsmv.gov/2023/04/04/it-all-can-wait-flhsmv-launches-distracted-driving-awareness-campaign/
Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving
Teen Safe Driving Coalition https://flteensafedriver.org/texting-driving-a-serious-problem/
Martin Hernandez Law Office https://injurylawyersoftampa.com/what-are-the-texting-and-driving-statistics-in-florida-for-2022/
Ready for college applications? Planning next steps?
Check out K-12 Scholarship Opportunities here.
Families of English Language Learners