Florida schools preparing for worst with Irma

Published: Sep. 7, 2017 at 8:21 PM EDT
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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service

September 7, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Schools in at least 20 counties across Florida have cancelled classes for Hurricane Irma.

The Florida School Boards Association confirms that response plans from the school district have improved since previous storms, and students should be able to return to school shortly after the storm.

In 2004, Hurricane Charlie destroyed six of Charlotte County’s 17 public schools, keeping students out of school for two weeks.

Andrea Messina, Executive Director of the School Boards Association, has dealt with the devastation firsthand. The process of rebuilding was certainly not an easy task. She explains, “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.”

Messina assured that getting students back in the classroom was essential to rebuilding.

“So that 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,” she continued.

Due to the destruction of multiple schools, students had to be sent to neighboring schools. The trying challenges included scheduling double sessions and reworking school transportation routes.

Eventually, temporary schools were constructed. “The working hours changed, the responsibilities in some cases changed. So there was a lot of flexibility required on everyone’s part,” 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 Schools 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.