Citing its strong Future Farmers of America chapter — and the hope it stays that way — the Osceola County School Board approved a full, 12-month teaching position at Harmony High School at Tuesday’s meeting.

The board countered Superintendent Debra Pace suggestion on the agenda for an 11-month position — that started as a 10-month position at a meeting last month before Board member Ricky Booth made a push to make it a full position.

Tuesday, in front of a pro-agriculture crowd that included rows of Harmony’s FFA chapter, the board voted 3-1 to make it a 12-month position. It had the support of Booth, Clarence Thacker — both former Silver Spurs Rodeo Big Bosses — and Board Chair Kelvin Soto. Terry Castillo voted against, citing her coming from “a corporate standpoint”, and Tim Weisheyer was absent.

While Superintendent Debra Pace showed concern about how making this a 12-month position would affect similar requests at other schools, supporters said it would help attract a quality agriculture teacher who might agree to work elsewhere otherwise. They included Booth, FFA parents and members, including past and current club presidents at Harmony Hugh.

Current Silver Spurs’ Big Boss Chris Baker reminded the board that Osceola County is 14th in the country and second in the state in cow-calf production, and most of the county’s cattle-producing area is in Harmony’s zone. And Harmony — where the mascot is a Longhorn, which might as well be a universal ranching symbol — already has an agriculture program he can vouch for.

Our organization backs it, and that doesn’t include that my two children went through that program. It’s a good program, but you can make it better.

Chris Baker

Big Boss, Silver Spurs Riding Club

Soto said his support for Booth’s 12-month position motion — when the agenda called for an 11-month one — comes from agriculture science, which originally put Osceola County on the map over the last century, being a Career and Technical Education (CTE) path “that is really different and unique”.

Thacker noted Harmony High School had built animal pens and other teaching tools to show the school hasn’t been horsin’ around.

“My expectation of a 12-month teacher is one who will lead a robust program, including leading it in the summer months,” he said. “There’s no sense paying someone for 10 months knowing they’re going to work 12.”