More than 3,000 students opt to return to traditional classrooms

School board also considers oversight committee for new sales tax funds

by Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 12/2/20

FLEMING ISLAND – More than 3,000 students have elected to return to brick and mortar education following the upcoming holiday break.

The Clay County School District recently sent out surveys to …

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More than 3,000 students opt to return to traditional classrooms

School board also considers oversight committee for new sales tax funds

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – More than 3,000 students have elected to return to brick and mortar education following the upcoming holiday break.

The Clay County School District recently sent out surveys to parents and students to determine what their plans are for the second half of this school year that begins in January. Superintendent David Broskie said more than 3,000 students are planning to return to their in-person school as opposed to their current distanced learning.

“From the people that were surveyed and those that responded, 2,400 are coming from OneClay portal and 966 are coming from Clay Virtual Academy to brick and mortar classrooms,” Broskie said during the school board’s Dec. 1 agenda workshop meeting. “Our parents are saying, ‘we want our students to come back,’ and we’re ready for them.”

Broskie spoke about the district’s continued dedication to in-school safety and said he’s excited for the return of some students. This comes right after an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis that essentially tasks school districts with reaching out to the parents of students who aren’t performing as expected in distanced learning scenarios. The parents of students performing poorly in CVA or OneClay portal will receive a call from the district to ask if they’d prefer to return to a traditional classroom.

It’ll be up to the parents or guardians to choose how to proceed, Broskie said.

The majority of the agenda workshop was spent discussing the board’s process for creating its sales tax review committee. This committee will be responsible for reviewing purchases made with the new half-cent sales tax money approved by voters on the general election ballot last month.

The school board’s lawyer, Bruce Bickner, tasked the school board with getting the ball rolling so that the committee can get going early next year as half-cent sales tax money begins to roll in.

“There seems to be a lot of misconception and concerns in regards to what this oversight committee is about,” Bickner said. “The committee will be made up of Clay County citizens and shall be established and appointed by school board policy. This guides what you can do as this is what you decided on. The plan...is massageable [and] malleable to an extent...but the (ballot) resolution is your guiding star.”

Bickner said how the committee is formed is entirely up to the board. The board decided each member will name two members from their district and one alternate. The plans to have at least one additional workshop to further determine how this committee will work. Bickner said there is no minimum or maximum set of numbers and that the number of members and how they’re selected is entirely up to the board.

He also said the committee won’t be making decisions. It instead will be monitoring the decisions made by the school board in regards to spending the sales tax money. The spending will be a separate budget line much like the one mill tax approved by voters a few years back.

School board member Janice Kerekes said the board should research how surrounding counties are handling their sales tax committee. The Duval committee has more 20 members made up of company representatives, citizens and hand-selected members from the school board, for example, and the committee meets quarterly.

“Credibility is going to be an issue,” Bickner said. “That’s the issue you’ve had since Day 1 [with this half cent sales tax]. The people will ask: ‘What are you doing with our money?’ and credibility is what you’re trying to get. You want an honest report that everyone believes in.”

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