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Marion County School Board discusses superintendent and military academy

Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 6:26 PM EST
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The School Board of Marion County had a lot to go over at its work session Tuesday morning, due to changes with the district's Superintendent and the, now former, Francis Marion Military Academy.

The search is on for a new Superintendent, in Marion County and the school district wants the community's help in making that decision.

For the first time ever, the Marion County School Board is searching for an appointed superintendent.

With 43,000 students and 7,000 employees within the district, the board wants residents to offer their input into who will be the next person to lead the school district.

Several town hall meetings have been scheduled to do just that.

"The town hall meetings are for our community members, our citizens to actually come to learn a little bit about the superintendent search, how it will work and then ask questions and give their opinion on our next school leader," said Board Member Beth McCall.

Townhall meetings are set for the following dates, times and locations:

· Jan. 14, 6:30PM-7:30PM at Dunnellon Middle School (21005 Chestnut St., Dunnellon)

· Jan. 14, 6PM-7PM at Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks (365 Marion Oaks Dr., Ocala)

· Jan. 15, 6PM-7PM at Fort McCoy School (16160 NE CR 315, Fort McCoy)

· Jan. 15, 6PM-7PM at North Marion High School (151 W. Hwy 329, Citra)

· Jan. 15, 6:30PM-7:30PM at Marion Technical Institute (MTI, 1614 E. Ft. King St., Ocala)

School Board members will not be present at any of these meetings.

Community input can also be offered via an online survey available through 8 AM, January 16 at www.marionschools.net.

Meanwhile, the future of the Francis Marion Military Academy is still up in the air, but school board members say they hope to make a decision soon.

Several former Francis Marion Military cadets held a protest before the school board meeting.

They wanted to show the school board just how frustrated they are with the situation.

One student, Camilla Guerrero said the transition has been difficult and disappointing.

In the short time that they have been there, the FMMA students say they feel like moving to MTI is not the right solution.

"It has been very intense and we just want our school back. We want to at least feel like a school, not to have to walk on eggshells, not to have to show up and then 2 minutes later have to leave because the SRO will come and escort you off-campus. It feels like we are being harassed all the time and it's unfair," Guerrero said.

But school board members said they are working as hard as they can to help these students succeed.

"We have been working around the clock trying to get this resolved and there's going to be some issues because of how it happened but we want to make sure that these kids are stabilized as soon as possible, that the parents are used to it and we get back to the means of educating them," said School Board Chair, Eric Cummings.

The idea of a district-run charter school was initially brought up as a possibility, but the board decided against the decision Tuesday morning, for the time being.

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