Alva Striplin serves as Chair of the Leon County School Board and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend. Committed to public service in every way, she also serves with the Council on Culture and Arts (COCA) and represents the Education Council on the Board of the United Way of the Big Bend. A former teacher, Alva was selected as a member of the Superintendent’s Leadership Academy and is a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee. Alva is a graduate of Florida State University where she was a member of Alpha Delta Pi. Alva is married to George Smith and together, they have six children.
Since being elected in 2014, I have fulfilled the campaign promise to be a voice for teachers. With both the prior and current superintendents, I have expressed my concerns and opinions with the primary goal of doing what's best for our students in Leon County. I fought hard to bring back Agenda Review, a meeting of discussion and opinions and questions, on the day prior to School Board meetings. This had not been done in many years and I felt it was time that discussion occurred and questions were answered well in advance of an official vote. I fought hard to get as much of a raise as possible for our teachers after first being elected in 2014, resulting in an increase from what was originally proposed by the superintendent.
I voted against frivolous spending such as multiple administrative assistants in the superintendent’s office and rehiring retired, high-level district administrators through a temporary agency, saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Also, I have defended diverting dollars to charter schools by fighting to keep funding dedicated to traditional public schools.
Since being elected, we found money to give a 12.5 percent raise to bus drivers and food service workers, a 20 percent raise for substitute teachers, a 15 percent raise for bookkeepers, and a 3 percent raise for teacher assistants. We put an additional $250,000 into classroom supplies and $300,000 for high school extracurricular needs.
My priority is to support the mental wellness issues of our students in the upcoming year to an extent never seen before in our district. Our students are in crisis and are crying out for help and acceptance. Teachers and guidance counselors cannot do it alone. That is why we are looking into several intensive suicide and bullying prevention programs, including Sources of Strength. With peer leader engagement and a mental health counselor in every school, we hope that no child is in such a deep place of despair that they turn a gun on themselves, or on others.