BROOKSVILLE (Suncoast News) – Gus Guadagnino became the new chairperson of the school board on Tuesday, with Susan Duval chosen as vice chairperson.

After reorganization, the board dealt with issues in the consent agenda, including adding an item to the 2022 legislative platform with a funding request of $2.5 million for the technical school to address the higher cost of construction.

In addition, the board wants full funding for transportation to take children who live up to two miles from school to their school.

Board member Jimmy Lodato said he has discussed it with legislators, including those representing other counties, and they have told him they are positive it’s a necessity.

Superintendent John Stratton says there is a bill that requires it, but doesn’t fund it. “It’s a great idea,” he said. “It just needs to be a funded idea.”

The proposals will be passed to the Hernando legislative delegation for the regular session next year.

Also approved was a $1,000 bonus for school employees who worked at least one day more than half the year, “and until the end of the contract year in 2020-2021 and who were excluded from the 2021-2022 General Appropriations Act for full-time classroom teachers and school principals.”

The measures had been pulled from the Consent Agenda and were passed 5-0.

In citizen input, Kara Floyd said that the board is not taking sufficient action against books with sexual content that are in the school libraries, and read from a book she said is in an elementary school library. The audio of the reading was redacted for content and language.

Wendy Porter read a book she said is in a middle school library, and that reading was redacted, too, from the audio for content and language. She was interrupted by a woman named Pam Everett, but resumed the reading, which again was redacted.

“Some of it is quite shocking,” Guadagnino said, “and I’m sure there’s actions being taken already.” 

He asked if Floyd knew how long those books were on the shelf, and she said she was not privy to that information. 

“Some of it is quite shocking,” Guadagnino said, “and I’m sure there’s actions being taken already.”

Board attorney Dennis Alfonso said the books in question had been pulled, and the content is shocking.

Board member Linda Prescott said she had heard that the state Board of Education had decided in a six-minute meeting that students with special needs would have to be in a regular classroom for two grading periods before they could get services they need, and she said that needs to be resisted. “That really alarms me,” she said. “We need to provide input against that.”

She also noted that there’s a debate going on about getting rid of gifted and talented programs, and she feels they need to be discussed.

Guadagnino closed with a call for unity and mutual respect.