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School Years Unlikely to be Extended as a Result of Hurricane Irma

September 7th, 2017 by Jake Stofan

Schools in at least 20 counties across the state have announced cancelations for Hurricane Irma.

The Florida School Boards Association says school district response plans have improved since previous storms, which means students should be able to return to school shortly after the storm.

 

 

In 2004 Hurricane Charlie destroyed 6 of Charlotte County’s 17 public schools, leaving students out of the classroom for 2 weeks.

Former Charlotte County School Board Chairperson Andrea Messina is now the Executive Director of the School Boards Association.

She dealt with the devastation firsthand.

 

“Kind of doing a lot of it on the cuff, on the fly, but we certainly had programs in place. We just never expected that level of devastation because it was fully one third of our school stock and that’s a big hit,” said Messina.

Messina says after the storm getting students back in the classroom was essential to rebuilding.

 

“The parents who were so focused on rebuilding their homes and rebuilding their businesses had an opportunity to focus on that instead of worrying about their student,” said Messina.

Students from the destroyed schools had to be sent to neighboring schools.

It came with  multiple challenges such as scheduling double sessions, reworking school transportation routes.

Eventually temporary schools were constructed.

Now, Messina says districts are much better prepared to assist affected schools compared to 2004.

 

“They have these sort of assistance trees built out now so that everybody knows who’s helping this district, who’s helping this district [and] who’s helping this district,” said Messina.

School years didn’t have to be extended as a result of Charlie, thanks to a waiver from the Governor and Hurricane days built into schedules.

The School Boards Association says in order for Irma to cause an extension to the school year, students would have to be out of the classroom for at least a month.

Despite disruptions caused by Hurricane Charlie, teacher pay remained consistent.

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