Pasco’s 2018 Outstanding Senior hails from River Ridge High

River Ridge High School senior Connor Beckman has been named Pasco County's 2018 Outstanding Senior.
River Ridge High School senior Connor Beckman has been named Pasco County's 2018 Outstanding Senior.

River Ridge High School senior Connor Beckman has been named Pasco County’s 2018 Outstanding Senior.

Commander of the school’s Air Force JROTC program, Beckman is also an Eagle Scout mentor, National Honor Society president and swim team captain.

Beckman also has been active in volunteer work, organizing fund-raising races for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, and teaching youngsters about ecosystems with the Pasco Environmental Adventure Camp Experience, among other activities.

He’s an honor student, who hopes to be appointed to one of the nation’s service academies or to attend Texas A&M University, the University of Florida or Florida State University. He was selected by a panel of community leaders for the honor.

ELECTED OR APPOINTED? You can bet Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning will be watching Tallahassee upon returning from Thanksgiving break.

The Constitution Revision Commission’s education committee will take up a proposal Monday that would ask Floridians to do away with the elected superintendent’s job statewide.

Browning, in the middle of his second term, runs the largest school district in the nation that has an elected superintendent. Two-thirds of the state’s districts have one, too, although the largest systems tend toward appointed leaders.

Although he hasn’t come out and said so outright, Browning has hinted that he would be interested in a third term to continue efforts such as adding more choice options for families to the district.

But if the amendment is ultimately approved, it would require school boards to appoint their superintendents beginning Nov. 17, 2020 — two weeks after Browning would face his next general election.

PRINCIPAL HONORS: Mardee Kay Powers, principal of Denham Oaks Elementary School, was awarded principal of the year recognition by the Pasco County Council of PTAs for 2017.

The organization selects its top school leader based on letters that members submit about their principal explaining why they think he or she deserves the honor. The council board then reviews all the entries.

"This year there was such an overwhelming number written in on behalf of Mardee Powers from Denham Oaks, her support of PTA and all its efforts, and how she is very devoted to all her students and their educational success," council president Denise Nicholas said.

The organization has been honoring principals for about five years. Past recipients include Christine Wolff of John Long Middle and David Salerno of Rushe Middle.

PRIORITIES: The Pasco County School Board recently adopted its legislative platform, as lawmakers prepare for session in early 2018.

Many of the district’s goals remain unchanged.

The board continues to seek a return to a maximum capital projects tax rate of $2 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The current rate is $1.50 per $1,000, because the state reduced the cap a decade ago amid recession.

District leaders argue that the additional revenue could help pay for construction made necessary by renewed population growth.

The board also has called for a reduction in state testing, extra recurring funds to pay employee salaries, and increased local control over charter schools.

Board members and staff said they plan to meet with the local delegation and other lawmakers as they can to promote these ideas.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at (813) 909-4614 or [email protected] Follow @jeffsolochek.