School Monitor


An Orlando lawyer decides to become part of the solution, which can lead to problems.



 

 
 Kathleen Skambis

Kathleen Skambis is tenacious in her focus on Orange County Public Schools, but don’t call her an activist. “That’s more radical than I am,” the Orlando lawyer says.

She has been outspoken about school issues for the past few years, most recently as a member of Superintendent Ronald Blocker’s Budget Study Committee, formed to seek ways to save money in the face of drastic funding cuts imposed by the state.

The Orlando resident was frustrated by the process. “Even if you eliminate all of the inefficiencies and all of the fluff at the local level,” says Skambis, “you’d still not have anywhere close to enough cuts to make up for the money the state is cutting.”

Blocker concurs. “That’s why it is very frustrating for us. It’s very scary when you realize you can’t come up with enough cuts to balance the budget. Then there’s only one place left to cut, and that’s teachers and staff.”

While Skambis and Blocker share some common ground on the budget dilemma, they have lined up on opposing sides in the past. Skambis, 52, has challenged the district on its reconstruction plans for Edgewater High School and fought against the original schedule flip. And she says the district, under Blocker, doesn’t listen to community input.

Blocker acknowledges her opinion but disagrees. “Ms. Skambis is an involved citizen and very passionate about her beliefs,” he says. “Sometimes if you don’t agree with whatever they believe, then people say you don’t listen. We do engage the community.”


Skambis’ involvement began a few years back when she led the Edgewater High School Community Reconstruction Task Force. With two children from a previous marriage and two stepchildren zoned for Edgewater, she had a vested interest in the school’s future. The task force met with district officials for a year and a half.

“The amount of hours and energy Kathleen spent on that committee was mind-boggling,” says real estate agent David E. Rose, a task force member and president of the College Park Neighborhood Association.

The experience, however, only hardened Skambis’ resolve to challenge the school board and Blocker.

When the school board backed Blocker’s plan to flip middle school and high school start times last summer, Skambis joined Orange County CORE (Community Organized to Rescue Education), a grassroots group that opposed the flip. “The schedule flip was God’s gift to community activism,” Skambis says. In early December, the school board, which included three new members who ran on the promise to reverse the flip, reinstated the old start times beginning next school year.

Education is a clear passion in Skambis’ life. The community must get involved, she says, in order to solve the funding problems. “CORE had tremendous momentum, and I’m on the boat. I’m not ready to stop fighting yet.”

Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

Wedding Resource Guide

Find the best wedding vendors in Orlando.

Summer Getaways 2015

Summer is finally on its way and now is the perfect time to plan your getaway. Check out some of these great deals and special destinations just a short drive from Orlando.

Shattering Myths of Better Business Bureau

2015 Best Lawyers

When you need an attorney, you want someone with a strong reputation and a proven track record. The annual Best Lawyers® list provides the names of Orlando-area attorneys most recommended by their colleagues in the field.

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2015

Our annual list featuring 216 of the area’s finest dental professionals.

Dentists Q&As

We selected 4 dentists to weigh in on questions related to dental health.

Guide to Private Schools 2015

Our annual guide to private schools will help you chart an educational course for your family.

2014 Finest Doctors

Two national surveys name the Best and Top Doctors in Orlando, as recommended by their peers.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Weekend Happenings in Orlando May 22 to 24

Find the best events in and around town for the weekend.

Guide to Outlet Mall Shopping

Make the most of your time with these suggestions before hitting the shops in Orlando

Weekend Happenings in Orlando May 15 to 17

Find the best events in and around Orlando for the weekend, including a Friday night live music guide.

3, 2, 1... Liftoff!

Cape Canaveral Fuels Up for a Record Year of Rocket Launches

Weekend Happenings in Orlando May 8 to 10

Find the best events in and around Orlando for the weekend, including a Mother's Day idea guide.
Edit Module