The Shields Painting Difference: Perfection with Every Brush Stroke
Many painting companies in Florida rely on flashy marketing and big promises to try and attract new clients. But when it comes time to work, they fall short of their promises. This is often due to a lack of experience, qualified painters, and a drive to overachieve. At Shields Painting, we do things a little differently than other painting companies in Citrus County. We believe that a professional paint job should be as close to perfect as possible. Our goal is to leave you 100% satisfied, whether we're touching up an old residential paint job or performing a complex commercial project. It might sound simple, but we achieve that goal through honesty, hard work, beautiful results, and reasonable pricing.
As a family-owned and operated painting company in Citrus Hills, FL, we strive to provide personalized, professional, and friendly service. Shields Painting has been in business since 1968 for a good reason. Whenever possible, we go the extra mile to make sure our customers are happy. Unlike some of our competition, we want to know all about your house or business painting project: your vision, your preferences, your challenges, and your goals. When we understand your needs, we can present you with a fantastic final product - one that you're proud to show off to friends and neighbors.
At Shields Painting, we combine our extensive experience with time-tested, meticulous painting processes, resulting in the highest quality painting results around. As a painting contractor in Citrus County, we can take on a variety of residential, commercial, and industrial projects in Florida.
A few of our most popular painting services include:
- Interior Painting
- Exterior Painting
- Residential Painting
- Commercial Painting
- Cabinet Painting
- Ceiling Painting
- Fence Painting
- Sign Painting
- MUCH More!
Our commercial, industrial, and residential painting contractors take the proper steps to protect your property and belongings while we work. Our team will clean up after ourselves, so your property is left clean and free of debris when we're done. After all, we think there's only one way to do a job, and that's the right way.
Eco-friendly & clean work area.
PDCA Certified Member.
Your Go-To House Painting Company in Citrus Hills, FL
Your home is a haven of relaxation and solitude. It is uniquely you - a place where you can express who you are through style and design. Whether you need interior touch-ups for your crown molding or a new exterior coat of paint, hiring a reliable painting contractor is the best way to get quality results.
At Shields Painting, we know how important it is to have a home that highlights your tastes and personality. That's why we offer an extensive array of residential painting services in Citrus County. As tempting as it might be to try a DIY paint job, without the proper skills and experience, there is a good chance that the results will turn out less than satisfactory.
High-quality painting requires skill, experience, and patience. If you're a homeowner who needs residential painting services but doesn't have the time, patience, or skills to handle the job, look no further than Shields Painting. We offer accuracy, precision, and longevity with each paint job we perform. Our customers choose Shields Painting for their home because they receive:
- Free Quotes with Detailed Project Breakdowns
- Affordable Pricing
- Expert Painting Contractors
- High-Quality Paint Products
- Combo of Traditional and Modern Techniques
- Well-Maintained Tools
- Unmatched Craftsmanship
- Friendly, Personalized Service
- Good Old-Fashioned Hard Work!
The majority of our house painting services come in two forms: interior and exterior.
Interior Residential Painting
As an interior painting contractor with decades of experience, our expert technicians have developed an interior painting process that maximizes quality and emphasizes customer satisfaction. We understand that interior painting goes beyond aesthetics. It protects your ceilings and walls and helps you sustain a healthier place to live for your family. When only the finest craftsmanship will do inside your home, Shields Painting is here for you.
Our seasoned team of painting experts and craftsmen is dedicated to respecting your space and providing you with the look and feel you're craving inside your home. Whether you bought a new house and want to make it your own or need minor touch-ups but have no time, Shields Painting is ready to tackle the job, no matter how small or large.
Unlike some painting companies, our interior house painters take the time to get the details right, every time. For instance, color is only one aspect of your interior paint job. The paint sheen or finish is just as important. Certain finishes are better for living rooms and bedrooms than in kitchens and bathrooms. We'll help you find the right finish and paint colors for your home, so you don't have to worry about touch-ups or repainting.
Some of our most popular interior house painting services include:
- Ceiling Painting
- Popcorn Ceiling Removal
- Living Room Painting
- Bathroom Painting
- Basement Painting
- Color Consultations
Citrus County cabinet painting deserves its own section on this page because it requires more time, skill, and quality paint than most sections of your home. If your home's cabinets are built into its woodwork, replacing them can be obnoxiously expensive. Compared to the cost of installing new cabinets, painting your kitchen cabinets is much more affordable.
At Shields Painting, we specialize in transforming old cabinets into new, gorgeous features that are just as usable as they are beautiful. Each step of our cabinet painting process is meticulous and thorough. And we'll take care of the entire job, from cleaning, prep, and sanding to priming, painting, and reassembly. This unique service lets you enjoy a brand-new look in your kitchen without having to go into debt by replacing your cabinets.
Whether your cabinets are new, but you want to change their color or you'd like to transition wood cabinets to a painted finish, Shields Painting has the expertise and experience to give you a new look you'll love.
Exterior Residential Painting
Your home - it's a place that not only keeps your belongings safe. It protects your family and loved ones, too. It's one of your largest investments, and like anything else of value, it should be protected. However, Florida weather can take a toll on your home's structure and paint, lowering your home's value and even putting your family at risk.
While it's true that a beautiful exterior affects your house's value, it shouldn't take thousands of remodeling dollars to make a positive change to your home. There's a fine line between reasonable pricing and top-quality painting, and that sweet spot is what Shields Painting aims for. If you want to transform how your friends and neighbors see your home, never underestimate the power of a professional paint job.
Our exterior residential painting services are designed to boost curb appeal, give your home a fresh look, and help it stand up to Florida's unique weather. But we provide more than that. When you hire Shields Painting for your outdoor painting project, you will enjoy peace of mind in knowing that your home is in truly capable hands. Our goal is to exceed your expectations and help bring out the best in your property, whether you need to re-stain your deck or remove old, peeling paint from your siding.
If you're on the hunt for the very best exterior painting contractor in Citrus Hills, FL, look no further than Shields Painting.
Some of our most popular exterior house painting services include:
- Vinyl Siding Painting
- Deck Painting and Staining
- Stucco Exterior Painting
- Wood Exterior Painting
- Porch Painting and Staining
- Soffit Painting
- Fascia Painting
- Window Painting
- Front Door Painting
- Thorough Painting Prep
The Premier Commercial Painting Company in Citrus Hills, FL
When it comes to first impressions, your businesses' appearance plays an important role. Your commercial property's paint job factors into its overall aesthetics. A great-looking, well-maintained paint job can mean the difference between a customer walking in your storefront and passing by. Conversely, an old, worn-out commercial paint job can send the wrong message to prospective customers. If you can't take the time to keep up your property's appearance, why would a customer spend their hard-earned money on your products?
The same goes for your businesses' interior paint. Would you want to do business with a company that has peeling paint or unsightly crown molding? At Shield's Painting, our goal is to create a beautiful environment that your customers and employees will love inside and out. When you work with our business painters, you can rest easy knowing we treat your business like it were our own. We always clean up after ourselves and know that operations cannot come to a halt just because we're painting. As such, we'll work with your busy schedule to ensure the job gets done right the first time without disrupting your day-to-day commitments.
With decades of commercial painting experience, we know the demands of a commercial painting project necessitate a disciplined and focused approach from the start. Our team of business painters is committed to delivering quality, on-time results on every project, every time - no excuses
We offer professional business painting services to a variety of building types, including:
A high level of care and finesse are required to effectively paint an industrial property. At Shields Painting, we know that industrial paint jobs involve much more than aesthetics. That's why our industrial services are customized to your specifications, using industrial-grade materials that stand up to heavy-duty operations.
Retail Store Painting
Our commercial painters apply effective, yet appealing interior and exterior paint that stand up to the daily rigors of busy retail environments.
Small Business Painting
Do you own a restaurant franchise? Have a small "mom and pop" location that needs a fresh coat of paint? Shields Painting has the resources and reliability to efficiently get the job done the first time. That way, you can focus on serving your customers, not having your business repainted.
Healthcare Location Painting
From walk-in clinics to long-term care facilities, Shields Painting is sensitive to your patients' needs. We know you must protect your patient's privacy while maintaining productivity. Our approach to healthcare location painting centers around your schedule to avoid disruptions in care.
Apartment Complex Painting
Erase signs of wear and make your apartment complex or multi-family building a more desirable place to live with a stunning, professional paint job.
Florida's Most Trusted Painting Contractor
Shields Painting has been in the business since 1968. In a world where so much has changed, we are proud to uphold the ideals that make us successful: hard, honest work, getting the job done right, and excellent customer service. Providing you with trustworthy, quality work will always take priority over rushing through a project to serve the next customer. That is just not the way we choose to do business.
As professionals dedicated to perfection, we strive to provide a unique painting experience for every customer - one that focuses on their needs and desires instead of our own. Whether you need residential painting for your home or commercial painting for your business, we encourage you to reach out today to speak with our customer service team. Whether you have big ideas about a new paint project or need our expertise and guidance, we look forward to hearing from you soon.352-212-1533
Latest News in Citrus Hills, FL
Fitch Affirms Citrus County FL's IDR at 'AA' and Capital Imp Revs at 'AA-'; Outlook Stable
Fitch Ratings - New York - 17 Jan 2023: Fitch Ratings has affirmed the following outstanding Citrus County, FL ratings:--Capital improvement revenue and refunding bonds, series 2020 at 'AA-';--Non-ad valorem revenue bonds, series 2015 at 'AA-';--Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'AA.'The Rating Outlook is Stable.The bonds are secured by a covenant to budget and appropriate (CB&A) legally available non-ad valorem (NAV) revenues, by amendment if necessary, in an amount sufficient to pay debt service on the b...
Fitch Ratings - New York - 17 Jan 2023: Fitch Ratings has affirmed the following outstanding Citrus County, FL ratings:
--Capital improvement revenue and refunding bonds, series 2020 at 'AA-';
--Non-ad valorem revenue bonds, series 2015 at 'AA-';
--Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'AA.'
The Rating Outlook is Stable.
The bonds are secured by a covenant to budget and appropriate (CB&A) legally available non-ad valorem (NAV) revenues, by amendment if necessary, in an amount sufficient to pay debt service on the bonds. The availability of NAV revenues to pay debt service is subject to the funding of essential government services and obligations with a specific lien on NAV revenues. The issuer's NAV covenant is cumulative and continues until the bonds have been fully paid.
The 'AA' IDR reflects the county's solid revenue framework and expenditure flexibility, moderately low carrying costs and low long-term liability burden. The rating also incorporates the county's ability to manage through periods of revenue decline and to rebuild reserves, providing a better cushion to manage through economic cycles. The rating is tempered by risks inherent in the prominence of Duke Energy as the county's leading taxpayer.
The NAV-backed revenue bond rating of 'AA-', one notch below the IDR, reflects the absence of a pledge of specific revenue for the bonds and the inability to compel the county to raise NAV revenues sufficient to pay debt service.
Citrus County is located in the west-central region of Florida, midway between Tampa and the Florida panhandle. The local economy is centered on power generation and is also bolstered by healthcare, tourism and agriculture. The county's 2021 census population of 158,083 is up 11.9% since 2010. Besides the school district, the largest employers include Citrus Memorial Hospital, Publix Supermarkets, and Duke Energy.
Revenue Framework: 'aa'
Future revenue growth prospects are expected to be in line with the level of long-term inflation. The county's independent legal revenue raising ability remains high, with adequate revenue raising authority under the state's statutory 10 mill cap limitation.
Expenditure Framework: 'aa'
Fitch expects the county's pace of spending to generally be marginally above or in line with revenue growth trends, absent policy action. Fixed carrying costs associated with debt and retiree benefits are manageable, and the county's ability to cut spending through the economic cycle is solid.
Long-Term Liability Burden: 'aaa'
County long-term liabilities, including bonds outstanding and Fitch-adjusted net pension liabilities are low as a percentage of county personal income.
Operating Performance: 'aaa'
Fitch expects the county to maintain significant financial resilience in the event of a moderate economic downturn. The county has ample gap-closing ability provided by strong reserves and significant inherent budget flexibility and management actively restores a use of reserves during periods of recovery.
Factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to positive rating action/upgrade:
--Sustained natural revenue growth at a pace above Fitch's expectations for long-term inflation;
--A reduction in the concentration of the county's economic and tax base would be a credit positive.
Factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating action/downgrade:
--Sustained budget imbalance or draws on reserves to levels below policy levels weakening overall financial resilience;
--A weakening of the economy leading to a reversal of natural revenue growth to a level below long-term inflation.
International scale credit ratings of Sovereigns, Public Finance and Infrastructure issuers have a best-case rating upgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a positive direction) of three notches over a three-year rating horizon; and a worst-case rating downgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a negative direction) of three notches over three years. The complete span of best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings for all rating categories ranges from 'AAA' to 'D'. Best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings are based on historical performance. For more information about the methodology used to determine sector-specific best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings, visit https://www.fitchratings.com/site/re/10111579.
The county has experienced continued improvement in its tax base and moderate population growth the past several years and has prudently managed changes in revenues to meet expenditure growth. The county ended fiscal year 2021 (ended Sept. 30) with a net operating surplus of $12.7 million, leading to an unrestricted fund balanced (committed, assigned, and unassigned) of $37.8 million, or 34% of spending. Results reflect lower expenditures compared to budget and use of federal and state aid to help offset eligible pandemic related costs. Management reports revenue performance for fiscal 2022 exceeded expectations and expenditures savings leading to projections for a moderate budget surplus.
The fiscal year 2023 adopted general fund budget of $127 million is up 10.74% compared to the prior year's adopted budget. The operating millage rate was increased by 5% to 6.5057, and taxable assessed values increased 9% to $12.2 billion. Expense drivers are primarily related to the general government and personnel costs. The fiscal 2023 budget includes a moderate use of fund balance but maintains the unassigned portion of the general fund balance at 15.9% of expenditures and transfers out, which is within the county's policy goal of 8-17%. The county received $29 million in ARPA funds, and the board of commissioners voted to use the majority of the proceeds for water and wastewater projects.
Similar to other counties in the state, the county's tax base has seen strong growth since fiscal 2015 with taxable values increasing by 55% to $12.2 billion through fiscal 2023. Duke Energy is the leading taxpayer with a $1.9 billion taxable assessed value (TAV), comprising 15.9% of the TAV. The top 10 taxpayers based on the fiscal 2023 adopted budget data comprise 20% of TAV and are primarily utility related.
Fitch's assessment of the county's revenue framework takes into account Duke Energy's concentration of TAV and considers it to be an asymmetric risk. However, approximately $7 million in assets were removed from top taxpayer Duke Energy's TAV in fiscal year 2022. Duke Energy continues to decommission its former nuclear power plant, and the TAV will continue to decrease until this process is complete. The impact to the TAV should be partially offset by tangible property values and future use of the land.
In addition to the sources of information identified in Fitch's applicable criteria specified below, this action was informed by information from Lumesis.
The principal sources of information used in the analysis are described in the Applicable Criteria.
Unless otherwise disclosed in this section, the highest level of ESG credit relevance is a score of '3'. This means ESG issues are credit-neutral or have only a minimal credit impact on the entity, either due to their nature or the way in which they are being managed by the entity. For more information on Fitch's ESG Relevance Scores, visit www.fitchratings.com/esg
Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com
The rated entity (and/or its agents) or, in the case of structured finance, one or more of the transaction parties participated in the rating process except that the following issuer(s), if any, did not participate in the rating process, or provide additional information, beyond the issuer’s available public disclosure.
Numbers in parentheses accompanying applicable model(s) contain hyperlinks to criteria providing description of model(s).
All Fitch Ratings (Fitch) credit ratings are subject to certain limitations and disclaimers. Please read these limitations and disclaimers by following this link: https://www.fitchratings.com/understandingcreditratings. In addition, the following
The ratings above were solicited and assigned or maintained by Fitch at the request of the rated entity/issuer or a related third party. Any exceptions follow below.
Fitch’s international credit ratings produced outside the EU or the UK, as the case may be, are endorsed for use by regulated entities within the EU or the UK, respectively, for regulatory purposes, pursuant to the terms of the EU CRA Regulation or the UK Credit Rating Agencies (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, as the case may be. Fitch’s approach to endorsement in the EU and the UK can be found on Fitch’s Regulatory Affairs page on Fitch’s website. The endorsement status of international credit ratings is provided within the entity summary page for each rated entity and in the transaction detail pages for structured finance transactions on the Fitch website. These disclosures are updated on a daily basis.
U.S. 19 road projects on the home stretch
If you’ve been driving north on U.S. 19 these days, you no doubt have noticed the congestion around the Walmart Supercenter in Homosassa as workers continue to work on the long-awaited new right turn lane onto West Cardinal Street.Normally a busy intersection, it’s bound to get busier with the Suncoast Parkway interchange three miles to the east. Get more from the Citrus County Chronicle The Cardinal intersection is part of the overall 6.8-mile construction project that will repave U.S. 19 from the Hernando...
If you’ve been driving north on U.S. 19 these days, you no doubt have noticed the congestion around the Walmart Supercenter in Homosassa as workers continue to work on the long-awaited new right turn lane onto West Cardinal Street.
Normally a busy intersection, it’s bound to get busier with the Suncoast Parkway interchange three miles to the east.
Get more from the Citrus County Chronicle
The Cardinal intersection is part of the overall 6.8-mile construction project that will repave U.S. 19 from the Hernando County line to Green Acres Street.
There are three separate projects along U.S. 19, all in various stages of completion. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) provided the Chronicle with this update:
Work activities the past three months: The contractor has been wrapping up the storm drainage work and is 99 percent complete.
Ninety percent of the concrete sidewalk is finished along the west side of U.S. 19. New street lighting was installed at West Cypress Boulevard. All the areas where shallow spot restorations were needed due to the sinkhole/void areas have been completed. Sodding is taking place now.
Work activities expected in the next three months: “We anticipate the drainage to be completed. We also expect all the sidewalk to be tied in and completed,” FDOT spokeswoman Kris Carson said.
To keep track of this project, visit https://www.fdottampabay.com/project /300/437514-1-52-01
History: Work on widening this 2.1-mile stretch began in November 2016 and experienced numerous work stoppages over the years. It came to a complete halt in July 2021 when the original project contractor (D.A.B. Constructors) filed for bankruptcy.
Work activities the past three months: Completed asphalt pavement repairs. Replaced damaged concrete sidewalk and curb. Finished grading the ditches on the east side of U.S. 19, south of West Yulee Drive.
Work activities expected in the next three months: The relocation of the signal pole at Grover Cleveland Boulevard will be completed. That will necessitate a detour for one night. Drivers can expect continued day and night lane closures.
To keep track of this project, visit https://www.fdottampabay.com/project /110/405822-2-52-01
Work activities the past three months: Earthwork, storm drainage construction, installation of concrete curb and gutter and concrete driveways, signalization, and sodding.
There was a lane traffic shift from West Dixieland Street to Fort Island Trail, which allowed the contractor to clear the existing road, begin the median widening, and start work from Dixieland to north of Ozello Trail.
Work activities expected in the next three months: Earthwork, storm drainage, utilities, void repairs, concrete curb and gutter, concrete driveways, traffic signal work, paving, and sodding will all continue. Day and night lane closures will pop up as needed.
To keep track of this project, visit https://www.fdottampabay.com/project /240/405822-3-52-01
Michael D. Bates is a staff writer with the Citrus County Chronicle and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Citrus County welcomes parkway in 2022, but says no to turnpike
Citrus County Commissioners spent much of 2022 tackling issues such as the Florida Turnpike extension, county administrator search and a monthslong dispute over library displays.It was the...
Citrus County Commissioners spent much of 2022 tackling issues such as the Florida Turnpike extension, county administrator search and a monthslong dispute over library displays.
It was the turnpike discussion that will resonate in Citrus County for years to come.
The idea of extending Florida’s Turnpike between Wildwood and U.S. 19 near the expected completion of the Suncoast Parkway came from state politicians, not traffic studies or community needs.
It originated in the 2019 M-CORES — Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance — study. The brainchild of Senate President Bill Galvano, M-CORES set up task forces to study three toll road projects for construction starting in 2023:
— Extending the Suncoast Parkway from Citrus County to Interstate 10 in Jefferson County.
— Extending the Southwest-Central Florida Connector from Polk County to Collier County.
— Extending Florida’s Turnpike from Wildwood to an unknown point on U.S. 19.
After months of public hearings, including by Zoom during the height of the pandemic, the task forces panned all three, saying the state should instead look at adding lanes to existing facilities, such as Interstate 75, before building new roads.
SB 100 in 2021 repealed the mandate for the new roads, but kept intact funding for a study to extend the turnpike from Wildwood to U.S. 19 between Crystal River and Chiefland.
Opponents, led by the group No Roads to Ruin, gathered quickly and urged local governments in Citrus, Levy, Marion and Sumter counties to pass resolutions opposing the project.
Citrus County Commissioners did just that. In May, three months after the Suncoast Parkway opened at State Road 44 in Lecanto, the board said it would oppose any of the proposed turnpike routes through the county.
They went further in June, establishing a “no-build” opinion on any of the four proposed route corridors, including those that didn’t touch Citrus County.
“This situation, this turnpike, is not for Citrus County,” Commissioner Ruthie Davis Schlabach said.
In August, with near unanimous opposition of local governments in the region to the project, the Florida Department of Transportation announced it was stopping the study after reaching three conclusions:
— None of the four corridors were viable.
— They should expand the current road network, the same conclusion reached by task forces studying regional traffic issues.
— Before going this route again, the state will work in partnership with local governments and organizations.
The Northern Turnpike Extension status report to the Governor and Legislature urges continued study of regional road needs that complement I-75 with other transportation improvements in the area.
Meanwhile, the news is good for Citrus on the Suncoast Parkway. Construction is expected to begin in early 2023 on the 3-mile extension from State Road 44 to County Road 486. After that, funding is in place to continue construction of the parkway clear to U.S. 19 at Red Level, just north of Crystal River.
Citrus County braces for potential ‘catastrophic’ flooding from Hurricane Ian
Citrus County prepared for the early fall arrival of Hurricane Ian in the hopes its predictions exceed the real thing.Flooding from tidal storm surge plus heavy rainfall could be worse than any in recent memory, surpassing even the March 1993 “no-name” storm and ...
Citrus County prepared for the early fall arrival of Hurricane Ian in the hopes its predictions exceed the real thing.
Flooding from tidal storm surge plus heavy rainfall could be worse than any in recent memory, surpassing even the March 1993 “no-name” storm and Hurricane Hermine in 2016.
Ira is expected to arrive near Citrus sometime Wednesday.
“This one has the potential for being catastrophic,” Crystal River City Manager Ken Frink said. “It will be a significant flood event.”
With the latest forecast track showing the eye moving slowly north up the Gulf of Mexico crossing into Florida near Citrus, officials fear the storm will push a mountain of water into the low-lying areas of Crystal River, Homosassa and Ozello.
Sheriff’s Captain Troy Hess, acting director of Citrus County Emergency Management, said a storm surge above 10 feet is possible. Hess encouraged residents in flood-prone areas to prepare and monitor updates.
High tides from Hermine and “no-name” flooded downtown Crystal River to U.S. 19. Frink said the anticipated storm surge from Ira exceeds both Hermine and “no-name.”
Hess said Ian was strengthening over the warm gulf waters but expected to weaken some as it headed north. However, he said, it is also expected to slow, bringing hours-long downpour to the region.
“We’re looking at a lot of rain,” he said. “It’s going to be a prolonged event.”
The county opened sandbag sites Monday morning in Crystal River, Homosassa and Floral City and had given out 22,000 sandbags by 5 p.m., County Administrator Randy Oliver said.
Citrus County Schools closed Wednesday and Thursday, partially so that schools will be available as shelters and to keep buses off the road during high winds, district spokeswoman Lindsay Blair said.
Ian brought sporadic other closings: the College of Central Florida canceled classes Wednesday and Thursday, and the Citrus County Property Appraiser announced its office is closed Wednesday.
Citrus County Commissioners have their regular meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday where they are scheduled to have public interviews for four administrator finalists before choosing one to replace Oliver, whose last day is Nov. 8.
Oliver said the county will decide Tuesday whether to close the Courthouse for Ian.
The sheriff’s office said an announcement on shelters and evacuations was “forthcoming.”
Hess urged residents to keep a close watch on Hurricane Ian developments.
“It’s a large system. Even if it tracks west, into the Gulf of Mexico, there’s still going to be impacts,” he said. “Don’t panic. It’s still early. Check on your neighbors, make sure they’re OK. It takes a community to take care of one another.”
ReadingPals: Improving childhood literacy in Citrus County
Little by little and through the power of volunteers, United Way’s ReadingPals program for improving pre-K and kindergarten literacy skills is helping students succeed in all academic areas of learning.ReadingPals is a statewide volunteer-based early literacy initiative that provides volunteer reading mentors to students in pre-K for one-on-one or small group learning sessions. In Citrus County, the volunteers are assigned two children at a school and meet with them once a week for an hour, 30 minutes each child.“We...
Little by little and through the power of volunteers, United Way’s ReadingPals program for improving pre-K and kindergarten literacy skills is helping students succeed in all academic areas of learning.
ReadingPals is a statewide volunteer-based early literacy initiative that provides volunteer reading mentors to students in pre-K for one-on-one or small group learning sessions. In Citrus County, the volunteers are assigned two children at a school and meet with them once a week for an hour, 30 minutes each child.
“We only require one hour a week,” said ReadingPals coordinator Jenn Sloane. “Some of them are ex-pre-school teachers, ex-teachers and principals, so some of them are willing to do more than one hour a week.”
Volunteers also get to pick which school they want to go to. ReadingPals is in 11 elementary schools and two preschools, Tiny Treasures Child Care Center and Guardian Angel Preschool, as well as Saint John Paul II Catholic School.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the program had more than 200 volunteers and was able to be in both pre-K and kindergarten. Once they were able to start up again, they started this school year with 56 volunteers and, as of January, have grown to 107.
“Hopefully at the end of the year, we’ll be able to sign all our volunteers up again for the following year,” said Sloane. “That is my goal, don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I would like to see all 107 volunteers come back for the following school year.”
Additionally, the program has a certain curriculum that they have to follow that is provided for the volunteers, so while they can do extra, everything they need is already provided to them by the Florida Institute of Education at the University of North Florida.
“We do have curriculum that we go by that is presented by North Florida and it is a bunch of books that they give us,” Sloane said. “We have to read them the story first, and then after the story we go into a ‘fun bag,’ and we are able to work with them on their ABCs, their numbers, writing their name. Some teachers give us a report on how they do for testing, and then we are able to elaborate on what they need extra help on to get them ready for kindergarten.”
The ReadingPals volunteers meet with the same students each week for 30 weeks from September through May. At the end of December and end of May, the program also gifts a set of eight to 10 books home with every student participating in the program, since many students do not have the opportunity to own their own books.
The Citrus County ReadingPals program began in the fall of 2015 and within the first three years, students in the program showed a 53 percent increase in their kindergarten readiness scores compared to 20 percent for non-participating students.
The program is funded through a grant from Carol and Barney Barnett through the Children’s Movement of Florida, an extension of Publix Super Markets and conducted in partnership with United Way of Citrus County, Citrus County Public Schools, the Early Learning Coalition of Citrus County, Citrus Libraries, the Citrus County Chronicle, and local private daycare centers.
“Literacy is very important, and some kids don’t receive that as much at home,” Sloane said. “You’d be surprised at how many kids come into the program that don’t know their ABCs, don’t know how to count to 10, don’t know their colors, don’t know their shapes, but by the time they’re done with the program, between us and the teachers working with them, they get back on track to be ready for kindergarten.”
Those interested in becoming a ReadingPals volunteer can find more information online at citrusunitedway.org or by contacting Sloane at 352-796-5483 or email@example.com.