Class Acts – August 2018

Back To School

Hard to believe it’s already August, which means local schools will soon be opening their doors, hallways and classrooms to students all over Marion County. Drivers, be more mindful of those flashing yellow lights in school zones and red lights on stopped school buses. 

The new year for Marion County Public Schools means an estimated 43,181 students walking onto campus—20,370 elementary, 9,722 middle, 12,305 high and another 784 in other locations. 

MCPS is now a “B” school district according to Florida’s Department of Education. A big academic push this year focuses on elementary reading and building a cadre of support for students, families, teachers and others. A “Community Reads!” initiative will feature a toolbox of resources, events, highlights, activities and other components designed to improve learning, comprehension and communication for students and their families. “Community Reads!” launches this month on the district’s website— —and showcases new content every month.

Meantime, over 150 new teachers have joined the district and are prepping their classrooms now for the first day of school on Monday, August 13. Here are some things to consider when it comes to the 2018-2019 school year.

School Safety

Now a state law, every public school in Marion County must have an armed security person on campus. This year, those persons are law enforcement officers from local agencies. This means, for the first time ever, all elementary schools will have a full-time school resource officer (SRO) on campus every day of the school year. Middle and high schools continue their tradition of this same arrangement.

New this year, five high schools will have two SROs on campus because of their student body size, including Belleview, Forest, Lake Weir, Vanguard and West Port. As well, 30 armed individuals will be certified by the sheriff’s office to serve on campuses under the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program. 

The ALICE Protocol continues to drive security plans throughout Marion County. Revised safety procedures are now included in updated training required of all teachers and district employees. Local law enforcement now supports the ALICE Protocol, encouraging teachers and students to focus on these aspects of safety: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. Cameras and additional fencing continue to be installed on various campuses to increase security measures.

Communication Channels

Communication channels you can use include, Skylert notifications, Family Access, school websites, Twitter (@MarionCountyK12), YouTube (MCPSmedia), Peachjar and 866.SPEAKUP (text “SPEAKup” to 847-411). In addition, the district offers the Marion Education Channel, its weekly “k12 connect” video program and partnerships with local media to share important information.

Area Directors

Starting this year, Marion County Public Schools is divided into three geographic areas based on school feeder patterns. Parents concerned about school issues, student needs, discipline situations, communication matters or other regards should contact the area director representing the school their child attends if resolution cannot be reached with the school principal. 

Area 1: Melissa Kinard › (352) 671-4163

  • Elementary: Anthony, Dr. NH Jones, Evergreen, Fessenden, Fort McCoy, Madison Street Academy, Oakcrest, Ocala Springs, Reddick-Collier, Sparr and Wyomina Park
  • Middle: Fort McCoy, Howard and North Marion
  • High: North Marion and Vanguard

Area 2: John Kerley › (352) 236-0562

  • Elementary: Belleview, Belleview-Santos, Eighth Street, Emerald Shores, Greenway, Harbour View, Legacy, Maplewood, Stanton-Weirsdale and Ward- Highlands
  • Middle: Belleview, Fort King, Lake Weir and Osceola
  • High: Belleview, Forest and Lake Weir

Area 3: Ben Whitehouse › (352) 671-4151

  • Elementary: College Park, Dunnellon, Hammett Bowen, Marion Oaks, Romeo, Saddlewood, Shady Hill, South Ocala and Sunrise
  • Middle: Dunnellon, Horizon Academy and Liberty
  • High: Dunnellon and West Port
  • Other: Hillcrest, MTC and MTI

Leadership Changes

New principals will start at 14 Marion County schools this year. 


Belleview-Santos: Ashley Kemp*

Eighth Street: Dawn Prestipino

Fort McCoy (K-8): Renee Jones*

Harbour View: Rob Hensel

Legacy: Shameka Murphy*

Maplewood: Christine DiSanza*

Ward-Highlands: Treasa Buck



Howard: Lamar Rembert

Lake Weir: Brian Greene



Belleview: Heather Guest

Forest: Elizabeth Brown

North Marion: Danielle Livengood*

Vanguard: Christopher Carlisle*

MTC / MTI / CTE: Mike Kelly


*first-time principals

Nineteen assistant principals are also changing schools or positions within the same school, and 14 are entering the educational leadership stream as first-time assistant principals.

2018-2019 Early Release Days

  1. September  26
  2. October 24
  3. December 5           
  4. January 23
  5. February 27
  6. April 17

Family Access

We encourage families to update their contact information and communication preferences by logging into Family Access, this is the district’s online service giving complete access to grades, test scores, attendance, contact info, lunch balances and so much more. To register, simply visit your child’s school with a valid photo ID. You can register all your children at one time at just one school. Registering also gives you regular e-flyer updates from Peachjar, a specialized service designed to eliminate traditional paper-based flyers. Last year, MCPS saved 466 trees by sending 3.8 million e-flyers instead of sheets of paper!

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