Pensacola, Florida
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Buzz 12/27/12

Some High Schools Improve, not in Escambia All the high schools in the Escambia Public School District maintained their school grades for the 2011-12 school year, except for Northview High that dropped from a “B” to a “C.”  Pensacola High, Tate and Washington kept their “B’s.” Escambia and Pine Forest remained “C” schools.

The only “A” school in the district is West Florida High, which has been an “A” school since 2005. The school earned the most points in the two-county area, 1273.

In Santa Rosa County, Pace High and Jay are “A” schools, having pulled up grades from “B’s” in 2011.  Although Gulf Breeze High has the most points of any Santa Rosa high school, 1236, the
preliminary results show that it has a “B” grade. All the other Santa Rosa high school, Navarre, Milton and Central are “B” schools.

In the two counties, Santa Rosa County had no high school earned less than 1077 points.  Milton High (1077) had more points than Tate (1076), Washington (1010), Pine Forest (975), Escambia (926) and Northview (912).

In its press release, the Florida Department of Education stated the number of Florida high schools and combination high schools getting an A grade for 2012 rose to 231, up from 148 last year, according to the preliminary results.

“I want to thank students, teachers, parents, and school leaders throughout the state for their commitment to academic success,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. “This year’s results reflect both higher standards and temporary safeguards the State Board of Education approved to help smooth the transition. As we continue toward implementing Common Core State Standards and assessments, we will continue to raise the bar as we prepare our students for success beyond high school.”

To Be Young in Escambia The Escambia Youth Justice Coalition is holding it first town hall community meeting at the end of January. The meeting will be an opportunity to learn about youth justice issues specific to the area and discuss how the situation may be improved.

In an effort to address Escambia’s issues, the EYJC advocates juvenile justice reform. The group stresses alternatives to introducing youth to the judicial and criminal systems. In particular, it endorses a civil citation program used in places such as Miami-Dade County.

“It keeps kids out of the system and it connects them with the right kind of help that they need without treating the child like a criminal,” said Sara Latshaw, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northwest Florida, which is a partner in the coalition.

The coalition points to other counties in Florida, as well as other areas of the country, that have reformed their approach to youth misbehavior and delinquency. The First Judicial Circuit. which covers Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties, is the only circuit in the state that handles a majority of its juvenile cases judicially.

The EYJC’s exploration of the local youth justice landscape comes on the heels of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s complaint regarding disciplinary disparities within the Escambia County School District.

As reasons for concern, the coalition points to the fact that Escambia commits more children per capita to the state Department of Juvenile Justice’s juvenile prison system than any other county, exceeding its closest rival (Duval) by 40 percent. In it’s mission statement, the organization also notes that the United States leads the world with a per capita incarceration rate of 336 per 100,000 youth, with Florida tied with California as the juvenile incarceration leader in the U.S.

“This makes Escambia’s shameful juvenile prison commitment rate not only the leader in the state, but the U.S. and world,” reads the EYJC mission statement.

The coalition’s community meeting is scheduled for Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church.

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Buzzing on the Blog

Simple Solution
In the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, perhaps increasing the number of school resource officers is in order. The mayor of Orange County, Fla., has made this request of her school district, She’s intending to assign a sworn deputy to serve at each of the district’s 60 elementary schools.

Looking for the Lorax
Escambia County is looking for someone to represent environmental concerns on the RESTORE Act advisory committee. There’s also two at-large seats up for grabs. Selections will be made in January.

Jumping the Gun
There have been reports of brisk gun sales following the Sandy Hook tragedy and ensuing gun-control debate. Dick’s Sporting Goods suspended sales of rifles similar to the one used at Sandy Hook. Locally, Wal-Mart was out of stock of their Colt LE6920 Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle and Sig Sauer M400 with Prismatic Scope.

Pension Agreement
After lengthy and, at times bitter, negotiations, the city of Pensacola and the Pensacola Police union have reached an agreement on pensions. The short: new hires will enter the Florida Retirement System instead of the city’s pension plan and sergeants and officers will receive one-time payments ranging from $2,000 to $2,500 as well as incremental wage increases over three years.

Cruel and Unusual in the Library
A library assistant was arrested at Ensley Elementary School for cruelty toward a child. The victim had been hit by numerous household objects and given medications to control behavior. Apparently the child was not always permitted to eat or bathe and was confined to an alarm-rigged room, only allowed out to perform chores.

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