April 2022 - Melisa Giovannelli

April 2022 - Melisa Giovannelli
Posted on 04/08/2022
April 2022 - Melisa Giovannelli

The school year is coming to an end, with proms, plays, concerts, award ceremonies, and state and world championships in full swing, reminding us of life before the pandemic. As the Class of 2022 prepares to walk across the graduation stage, I will be honored to stand alongside this tenacious group of students, celebrating all they have accomplished. Teachers and staff are organizing End-of-the-Year field trips and parties. They, too, are looking forward to receiving their continuing contracts and beginning to think about and plan for the upcoming school year. Parents and families are planning for Summer school programs and vacations. The School District is preparing for the school year 2022-2023 with many moving parts to consider.

As an elected school board member, one of my duties is to listen to the community. Our recent Board meetings, agendas, and discussions have attracted many more public speakers, allowing the board to listen to concerns, opinions, and occasional compliments. The public comment portion of our board meeting provides individuals a forum to express how they feel on various topics. The board members sit and listen, but our job is to really hear what is being said. In many ways, this board has failed the public by failing to act on what we have heard. The recent Florida Legislative session has aligned with people wanting their voices heard, and our local legislators have advocated for some big changes moving ahead.

House Bill 1557 is a bill pertaining to protecting parental rights. This bill allows parents to decide what their children learn about sexuality and gender, as well as choosing the appropriate timing of the conversation. This law strengthens the rights of parents to know what is being taught in K-3rd grade classrooms. It gives parents the course of action when teachers cross that line.

House Bill 497 is a bill that gives the voters of Lee County the option to vote for an elected superintendent. Voters will be able to decide if they want an elected Superintendent or continue to allow the School Board to appoint the Superintendent. This referendum will be on the ballot. If it passes in 2022 the elected Superintendent will be on the ballot in 2024.

The House Bill 497 was presented by our local delegation as they were listening to the community whom they serve. While my fellow board members pushed swiftly to hire a new superintendent before the passing of this new legislation, I asked them to wait for the election and let the people's voices be heard. In March, the Board hired Dr. Christopher Bernier to be our next Superintendent of Lee County Schools. He will be sworn in on May 16th, just in time for preparations for the new school year. I would like to welcome him to the Lee County Schools.

I want to thank all the teachers, bus drivers, administrators, paraprofessionals, and all support staff for all the hard work they have done as it has truly been a difficult year. I also want to thank Dr. Ken Savage for his leadership and perseverance during this transition period. Everyone worked so hard during these trying times and many obstacles: staff shortages, sickness, quarantine, and student struggles. I am hopeful that the 2023 school year will be close to normal.

I pledge to continue to listen to all the parents, students, community members, and our staff. Please know that your voice matters. Everyone is valued and know that I will continue to respect those whom I was elected to serve.

Melisa Giovannelli