On District 1 Miami-Dade School Board Member Steve Gallon III's mind: Union representation, water safety and cheerleading.
The school board will meet this Wednesday to vote on policy changes proposed by Gallon to extend union members' benefit oversight, implement a water safety curriculum across county schools and recognize public school cheerleading as a competitive sport.
Gallon proposes to extend benefit decisions to unions representing the school district's full and part-time employees and retirees with contracts exceeding $50,000 annually.
"Doing this will engender a spirit of mutual respect, cooperation, transparency, and shared commitment to the district. Not doing so has proven to yield the opposite,” he said.
Gallon stated it is critical that the board provide balance and inclusivity to relevant district stakeholders, allowing for their input and engagement in deciding their health benefits and other related affairs.
With this proposal, he seeks to ensure union representatives are given a platform to vote and voice their concerns on behalf of their members.
Gallon will call for the adoption and implementation of water safety curriculum and instruction for Miami-Dade Public Schools' students in grades PK-12.
“This issue is not simply about swimming lessons, but about equipping our children and youth with requisite water competency and safety skills that may ultimately save their lives,” Gallon said. “I proffer this item in the spirit of the countless children who have lost their lives through drownings, and in hopes of eliminating such loss of young lives in the future.”
Gallon highlighted that water safety is particularly important to the community due to the close access of coastal waters and high numbers of drownings among children and youth between the ages of 4 to 17.
Through this measure, Gallon plans to have water safety embedded into the curriculum of existing science, health or physical education classes throughout public schools.
Last of his proposals, Gallon will ask the board to approve a measure for competitive cheerleading, which will establish cheerleading as an approved and classified sport in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
While the school system offers cheerleading in its athletics program, cheerleaders are only allowed to participate in local games and are not authorized to participate at the competitive level with other state schools.
"The time is long overdue to ensure that our students who have participated and competed at the highest level in cheerleading are able to do so with the full weight and support of the district, and with all the additional benefits that will come with competitive cheerleading being classified and recognized as a sport,” Gallon stated.
He noted that Miami-Dade is one of two counties in Florida that does not recognize cheerleading. With the support of other board members, Gallon hopes to promote gender equity for all students in giving them the opportunity to showcase their athletic talents and receive proper recognition.
Gallon mentioned that each of his proposals has garnered the cosponsorship of the majority of his fellow board members and anticipates the measures to go through.
If passed, Miami-Dade Public Schools can expect the policy changes to be implemented in three months.