Tuesday night’s Osceola County School Board meeting was once again filled with residents looking to share their opinion on whether there should be a mask mandate in Osceola. However, that topic was not on the agenda, and there was never an intention to vote on a new mask wearing policy, according to School Board Chairman Clarence Thacker. 

Last Thursday Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper filed a written order stating that Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban against mask mandates in Florida public schools was unconstitutional. The governor immediately filed an appeal as promised, and currently there is a stay on the order.

The mask mandate not being on the meeting’s agenda didn’t stop the public from sharing its views in the meeting, Over 65 members of the community signed up to speak at the meeting, which lasted over 4 .5 hours.

Mask wearing wasn’t the only topic of the evening. Superintendent Dr. Pace’s job performance evaluation was the other major agenda item discussed during the meeting.

Community members, business leaders, elected officials, chamber CEOs and many others spoke one after the other in support of the superintendent, thanking her for her service, her leadership, and for her guidance, specifically during this unprecedented time of the continued COVID-19 pandemic.

After everyone who wished to speak had done so,  the board vote 4-1 in favor of accepting the consensus that Dr. Pace has performed her job satisfactorily or above. The only board member who voted against the motion was board member Jon Arguello from District 3.

After a short discussion about what level of background screenings vendors and volunteers that work with the district should undergo, board member Robert Bass opened the discussion that would extend Dr. Pace’s current contract an additional two years.

School Board Member Robert Bass from District 5 prefaced his motion for extending Dr, Pace’s contract by saying, “I can tell you without a doubt that I’ve never met a harder working individual in my life. I almost want to look for her clone. I do believe the Osceola School District is blessed to have one of the best superintendents in the state. Dr. Pace is always accessible, she’s prompt to reply to any concerns. She is very engaged in the community as you can see tonight. Dr. Pace has brought much needed stability and thoughtful planning to the district. I put this on the agenda to offer a two-year extension to demonstrate confidence in our superintendent and the leadership team. Our community deserves it, our teachers deserve it, and most importantly, our children deserve it.”

Bass then made the motion to extend Dr, Pace’s contract, which was seconded by board member Castillo who then shared her overwhelming support for Dr. Pace. The motion passed 4-1 with Jon Arguello voting against extending Dr. Pace’s contract.

Following Mr. Bass, board member for District 2 Terry Castillo shared in support of Dr, Pace, “I wholeheartedly approve an extension of your contract. We are the biggest employer in the county and you are at the helm, successfully. You are an effective leader, and your level of understanding of your role as an educator is unmatched. You’re available when Ive needed you the most to better understand how to serve my community, and you are not selfish with your time.“

Dr. Pace’s contract, with the new extension, will be in place until the summer of 2025.