By Sharon Robb
FORT LAUDERDALE, October 1, 2020—A compromise was reached between the Broward County School Board and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran Thursday during an emergency board meeting.
Broward school campuses will start welcoming students back to campus on a rolling schedule starting Oct. 9 and ending Oct. 15, under the new re-opening plan by the district.
The School Board approved the revised plan that was proposed by Corcoran, after School Board members pushed back at his earlier request to to open Monday or Tuesday. The emergency meeting in Fort Lauderdale went from 10:30 a.m.-4:08 p.m.
The schedule is as follows:
Oct. 8, Thursday. Teacher planning to prepare for re-opening.
Oct. 9, Friday. Pre-K, kindergarten, and grades 1 and 2 return, along with all special needs students in self-contained classrooms.
Oct. 13, Tuesday. Students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 return to the campus.
Oct. 15, Thursday. Students in grades 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12.
However, the school district may have to scramble to find substitute teachers. According to a recent survey, nearly a third of teachers have said they have no plans to return to campus.
“We are currently assessing if we have enough teachers to educate our students, or if more teachers have to be hired,” said Kathy Koch, Chief Communications Officer, in a release.
Originally, School Board Superintendant Robert Runcie proposed an Oct. 5 return date, but the School Board decided last week to move that back to Oct. 14 and 20. However, Corcoran sent two letters in the past week to both Broward and Miami-Dade school boards saying the later dates were unacceptable.
Facing a $300 million budget deficit and possible elimination of 4,300 teachers, the School Board relented to Corcoran’s new dates. Miami-Dade is still opening Monday, Oct. 5 and is not affected by Broward’s new dates.
“The state has the ability to hold the purse strings of the district,” Runcie told the Board. “On principle, yes, it makes sense for us to go and fight this. But sometimes you have to lose to win. And when we have significant dollars at stake that could impact our teachers, our classrooms, our students, we have a responsibility to make sure they are protected.”
Had the School Board not compromised, there would have been a 15 percent budget reduction resulting in a $159,000 million shortfall in funding. The district is under 8,500 students under what the total should be, resulting in $67 million. Broward has lost those students to private schools, charter schools and home schooling.
“We could lose funding very quickly, we could see a reduction in two weeks,” said one School Board official if the Board did not comply with Corcoran’s new dates. “It would be a tremendous impact with the potential to ruin this district as far as jobs and students, something we could never recover from.”
“I wish there was a decision to make everyone happy,” said School Board Chairman Donna Korn. Korn also cited the fact the local school district was being challenged and overstepped.
Runcie and other School Board officials emphasized COVID-19 safety precautions will be in place including protective equipment for teachers.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com