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 on the board of the Council on Culture and Arts (COCA) and is a designee for the Children Services Council Planning Committee. A former teacher and Cross Country coach at Deerlake Middle School, Alva was selected as a member of the Superintendent’s Leadership Academy and is a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee. Alva attended Kate Sullivan, Raa and Lincoln High School, and 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. By 2016, many educators in Leon County saw a $7,000 increase in their paycheck. By 2018 many educators in Leon County saw a significant increase in their paychecks. In total, $11 million has been added to teacher salaries in the last four years and in 2017-18, we made sure every educator received a bonus.
Since 2014, I have voted against frivolous spending including rehiring retired, high level district administrators through a temp agency, saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. I fought to keep your taxpayer dollars in our traditional public schools by rejecting two new charter school applications in 2017. Being a voice for traditional public school teachers and students, one of the rejected charter schools did not appeal which will result in keeping approximately $1-2 million dollars annually in our traditional public schools. In Leon County, we have seen half of our charter schools close due to academic failure and declining enrollment during the past decade, returning those students to the traditional public school system having fallen behind academically. Our students deserve better.
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. From 2017 to 2018, we put an additional combined $500,000 into classroom supplies and $1 million for high school extracurricular activities. I want to ensure all of our students can engage in school activiites without cost being a barrier.
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. Which is why we welcomed 16 School Psychologists, 12 Social Workers, 22 elementary school behavior specialists to support these goals this school year. But it doesn't stop there, under my leadership, all of our schools will have at least one trained law enforcement officer in addition to 50 unarmed security personnel who will help keep your children safe this year (only trained law enforcement carry guns in our schools.)