With the lofty and ambitious goal of “All schools in the Apopka Community will achieve an “A” rating from the Florida Department of Education”, Mayor Joe Kilsheimer announced the launch of the program “Apopka begins and ends with an ‘A’”. In fact, Mayor Kilsheimer is so laser-focused on achieving this, he is calling on all of Apopka to join with him to set a community-wide goal that every Apopka area school achieves and maintains an ‘A’ rating. Two Apopka schools, Lovell Elementary and Rock Springs Elementary have been identified as the first two schools in this program. In his zeal to achieve this goal, Mayor Kilsheimer is proposing a program that will cost the city of Apopka, $20,000 this year, $10,000 per school. Working with a group called the City of Life Foundation, who will supposedly come in with their Community Action Team, hold meetings in the schools and community, identify and facilitate resources that might help our City attain this lofty goal. Sounded like another one of those feel good programs, long on “It takes a village to raise a child” rhetoric but short on any specifics or real concrete measure of success. Wanting to learn more about a group I’ve never heard of, I did some research; here’s what I found.
I found a 2015 Florida Not for Profit Corporation Annual Report for this group filed with the Florida Department of State dated 4/30/15. It lists Joe Kilsheimer as the President of this organization. I also found that the Mayor has been listed as President of this organization since 2013, and that his involvement with this organization goes back to 2006, when he served in various capacities on the Board of Directors. I could not find evidence that the Mayor disclosed this close relationship during two interviews with the Apopka Chief, nor in a thorough reading of the Commission Meeting minutes where the Mayor announced this program. Even if this information has been disclosed to someone, I have 4 words for Mayor Kilsheimer: MAJOR CONFLICT OF INTEREST! Even if it is “for the kids”.
Even if we overlook that fact that the Florida Standards Assessment, a key component that will determine a school’s grade is embroiled in controversy, disarray and confusion. Even forgetting for a moment that like the constantly changing test criteria, schools’ grades change from year to year. Will we keep throwing $10,000.00/year per school at each school till the end of time? Never mind that there are plenty of private organizations and service clubs already in the Apopka area that won’t charge $10,000/school to set up these programs and in fact, many already work within the various school communities. Until Mayor Kilsheimer clarifies his relationship with an organization he wants to give $20,000.00 in the first year of an unproven program, and continue to feed this program a steady diet of taxpayer money till who knows when, I believe the taxpayers of Apopka need to put a STOP to this expenditure.