Schools for Thought . . . An Interview with Dr. John Ruis

Submitted by

Dr. John L. Ruis

Gerry Clare

With the upcoming school board elections on August 13th , we approached Dr. John Ruis, Nassau County Superintendent of Schools Superintendent with the following questions:

 What do you see as the biggest challenge for the upcoming school year?

“Continuing to adjust and restructure program offerings, schedules, and resources to meet the continuing, multiplying demands of our legislature for public education.  Projected appropriations are better but still not at the 2007-2008 level due to the difficult economic times.”

Will there be any teacher or staff cuts?

 “Other than a downward fluctuation in enrollment at a particular school resulting in a reduction, there have been no cuts for the 2012-13 school year.  This is the first time in four years we have not had to undergo a reduction in force due to decreases in funding.

 What condition are the physical facilities in the Fernandina Beach schools?

“The physical facilities of the Fernandina Beach schools are in good condition.  Recently major construction and renovation projects were completed at Southside and Emma Love Hardee Elementary Schools. Currently, planning and design are being conducted for upgrades in selected facility areas at Fernandina Beach Middle and air conditioning the gymnasiums at FBMS and FBHS.  A renovation of the auditorium at Fernandina Beach Middle School was recently completed.”

How do you feel about Nassau County and Fernandina Beach FCAT scores?

“Overall our scores were solid in the county and Fernandina Beach schools.  We were not expecting to be as strong as in the past because of higher testing standards that took effect this year, but were represented well compared to districts both regionally and statewide.”

How will the upcoming elections affect you?

“There are two school board seats up for election this year, so that will certainly affect the district.  Legislative elections (also) affect the district because of the role the Legislature plays in providing appropriations and promulgating laws that impact school operations.”

One of the other questions I had about the our schools was answered by Sharyl Wood, Executive Director or School Services.  I had asked about whether there is a geographic boundary line to determine whether a student goes to Fernandina or Yulee schools.  She referred me to a link.  (Click on clipboard, map layers symbol, check school attendance zones, binoculars, and address finders with your address). Basically, there is a line but parents can request a different school by February after checking on the website to see where they are eligible to go and it will be considered, if physically possible.

I also asked about how many of Nassau County students qualified for free or reduced price meals, as this question was brought up in a recent county commission meeting and she said she said it was about 48%.

It’s nice to know that the school system population currently is working within our facilities, but if the Yulee and western parts of the county populations  escalate in the near future, things will obviously change as well.

Dr. Ruis, Nassau County School Superintendent, is unopposed in the upcoming election.

June 14, 2012 11:01 a.m.