LCS hosts special meeting discussing budget and reopening of schools

Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 10:23 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Leon County School Board held a special meeting Tuesday afternoon discussing their budget and reopening schools, but no decisions were made. However, conversations ranged from what is to come, what do teachers want, and how to best move forward.

The meeting took about two hours and began with talks on reviewing the budget.

The entire budget agenda can be viewed by clicking here.

Citizens tuned in to see how the board was looking to move forward with school just 30 days away. Chair of the board, Dee Dee Rasmussen shared, “Everybody has different circumstances weighing into this and that is what we have to address.”

Rasmussen acknowledged the fears that many have for fall. She says she wants to re-instill confidence in the district, “We have to go into this with humility, nobody has all the answers for this...So we are trying to make the best out of a bad situation.”

As of Tuesday, school is still set to start August 19, with around 18,000 students set to return to in-person learning and another 11,000 will begin the year with the digital academies.

The board took time to encourage those parents who are able to have their child go virtual to do so.

Parents, like Zipporah Burgess, says she has worries with her two children returning to school.

“If everything is contracted at the schools, guess what they are coming home to the community,” she said. “And what about the teachers, they also have families, even the custodial workers, everyone is affected by this.”

As cases continue to spike, teachers and parents, like Hannah Jimenez, are concerned over what measures are in place, knowing that everything can change at a moment’s notice.

“If it is not one thing then it is another, and I revert to the old saying ‘It is like a band-aid rip it off,’” Jimenez said. “And there are a lot of unknowns: We can have a plan in place but whenever it does not work you go to plan B, C, or E or whatever is necessary, but I think the best thing is progress is a forward motion.”

The board admits that in order to be provided funding, they must require brick and mortar as an option. The problem is that not all district teachers want to return.

In response to a survey sent out by Superintendent Rocky Hanna last week, they found that 70% of district teachers were concerned about returning. That was echoed by 75% of elementary school principals.

Board member Wood also shared that in schools like Apalachee Elementary, 51% of parents had chosen brick and mortar but only 30% of teachers were comfortable teaching in person. In a school like Astoria Elementary, only 19% of teachers felt comfortable. At De Soto Elementary, 75% of parents chose brick and mortar, and only 18% of their teachers want to return to the classroom.

Rasmussen stated, “With all the ideas that are coming in, with a little bit more time, more patience, and a little more grace, that we will be able to find solutions that will make our teachers feel comfortable and safe, we have to make sure everyone is protected.”

No decisions were made on Tuesday. The conversation will be extended to Thursday during the task force meeting, where the Leon County Sheriff’s Department and Department of Health will provide input.

Next Tuesday, Board member Rosanne Wood will propose a waiver to provide to the state of Florida to not be required to have in-person learning as required by the Commission of Education.

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