Hurricane Ivan is still messing with Florida’s 67 school districts. They are scrambling to figure out how they’ll make up missed days, schedule FCATS and even replace entire schools. Even districts that didn’t have damage will feel the impact.
School districts throughout Florida are struggling to replace classrooms, and in some cases entire buildings destroyed by the state’s three hurricanes.
Leon County Principal Margo Hall is grateful all she has to worry about is making up a couple of missed days.
"The district definitely didn’t want people on the roads. We’ve got low-lying areas in this county, it would be hard for the school busses to go by, and we also didn’t know in the district how much damage would be done, how many trees might be down,” says Hall.
Every school district in Florida has missed at least one day because of the storms, but for thousands of students and school employees, that’s the least of their problems. Of 71 damaged schools in Escambia County, 26 may never open again.
Wayne Blanton with the state School Boards Association thinks damages statewide will run about half a billion dollars.
"We’re insured and we will be getting some dollars back on that and other things, but it does not cover the total cost of what’s going to be needed and it’s going to be a two or three-year recovery period because you just can’t build schools in one night,” Blanton says.
Districts will look to the state for emergency funding during a special legislative session in December. In the meantime, Gov. Jeb Bush says the state is waiving some requirements, like number of school days.
Gov. Bush says, "There’s got to be some flexibility in that regard because you can’t make up all the days just with the existing school calendar for the counties, particularly like Charlotte, maybe St. Lucie, now with their delays, certainly Escambia and Santa Rosa.”
The state will not be waiving the FCAT. Students will still have to take the FCAT this year. The challenge for many will be just finding a place to take it. School districts are providing free breakfasts, lunches and counseling to displaced students and even some parents.