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The Buzz 7/7/11

WOODLANDS PROPOSALS REJECTED Mayor Ashton Hayward sent out on June 30 a letter to the architectural and engineering firms that bid on the Community Resource Center to be built in Woodland Heights:

“Thank you for your firm’s response to the RFQ 11-020 for A & E Services for the Construction of a Community Resource Center in Woodland Heights. The Mayor has directed that all responses to the RFQ be rejected. City staff failed to follow City policy which requires professional service or selection committee members to be appointed by the Mayor.

“A new RFQ will be issued in the near future and your firm will be notified of the new opportunity.”

SOIL AND WATER MAY CHALLENGE DEP The Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Programs for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Jeff Littlejohn, issued on April 15 instructions to the Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems that sand used for beach restoration may contain “silt or other non-sand components.” A Joint Coastal Permit is no longer required for work upland of the mean high water line.

Lynn Laird, vice chairman of the Escambia Soil & Water Board, isn’t happy with the relaxation of the rules. “I plan to present to the board a motion to ask the County Attorney to file an injunction against these changes,” Laird told the IN. “We may ask the county commission to join us in asking Gov. Scott to rescind these changes to the rules regarding beach improvements.”

SANTA ROSA LOSES JOBS Clearwire, the once great employer in Santa Rosa County, turned over its Milton operation to TeleTech. Most of its 700 employees in Milton and Las Vegas were transferred over to the new company on June 1. On June 30, 315 of those employees were told that they will be laid off in October. The Milton operation will be closed on Oct. 24.

An employee sent the IN this email:
“They are laying us off in waves starting in September and ending in October when they cease operations here. There’s nothing that can be done about that. But it seems almost criminal that due to the 14 weeks of notice they’re giving us, very few people will qualify for separation pay and no one seems able to advise us what the actual separation pay policy is. Teletech advised us that they adopted Clearwire’s policy but since we’re no longer Clearwire employees, we have no access to their policy info.”

MIDDLE SCHOOLS SLIP IN FCAT The Escambia County School District returned to “B” status according to the latest grades issued by the Florida Department of Education.

Unfortunately, the three perennially low-performing middle schools, Bellview, Warrington and Woodham, didn’t show the improvements other elementary and middle schools did. All three are C schools, but their total points have slipped below their 2009 levels, Superintendent Thomas’ first semester. All three schools have high percentages of free or reduced lunches: Bellview 82 percent, Warrington 93 percent, Woodham 81 percent.

There may be some hope on the horizon. Three elementary schools that feed these middle schools had significant improvement–Montclair, Weis and Oakcrest.

Montclair jumped 155 points, primarily due to huge increases in the percentages of students meeting high standards in math, writing and science–79 points. Overall, Montclair’s math scores improved at all measurement levels.

Weis had a 36-percent increase in reading gains in the lowest 25 percent of its students. Improvements in reading at measurement levels at Weis improved by 61 points. Oakcrest built its success on math and science at all measurement levels–84 points over 2010 scores.