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Leon County Schools Update: In-Person Enrollment, Chromebooks, Teacher Salaries

Leon County's remote students won't have to wait until next semester to return to classrooms.
Leon County's remote students won't have to wait until next semester to return to classrooms.

Leon County students who started the school year remotely will have the option to return to physical classrooms for the second 9 weeks. A ten-day enrollment window opens next Tuesday for students who want to return to campus.

At last night’s school board meeting, board member Darryl Jones questioned that decision.

“If we now follow the example as we see from our larger institutions like Florida State where they are not managing density and now are seeing far (more) frequent occurrences, it would appear to me that we put ourselves at risk to do the same,” Jones said.

Superintendent Rocky Hanna said the initial plan was to offer enrollment at the end of the first semester, but that changed after talking with the district’s legal counsel.

“Like-sized districts were moving to 9 weeks,” Hanna said. “We were starting to get questions, well if other districts – Bay County, Alachua County, Escambia County, Okaloosa – could do 9 weeks, why couldn’t Leon County Schools be able to adjust it at 9 week intervals.”

Hanna was happy to announce that Chromebooks are finally on the way. The first 16,500 laptops are in transit after being delayed by the pandemic. Eventually, every student in the district will be assigned one.

“We’re going to pilot three schools when the first shipment arrives. We’ll pilot an elementary, a middle and a high school for about a week,” Hanna said. “After that, we’re going to go into our schools and start taking care of one school at a time. We haven’t released our plan yet of what the process is going to be for that, but the exciting news is we are very confident that by the end of November that we will be made whole.”

Also during the meeting, Hanna said salary negotiations begin today for teacher raises. Discussions with the union are likely to include working conditions - as schools operate under a hybrid model. Many teachers are managing both in-person and remote students.

Gina Jordan is the host of Morning Edition for WFSU News. Gina is a Tallahassee native and graduate of Florida State University. She spent 15 years working in news/talk and country radio in Orlando before becoming a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU in 2008. Follow Gina: @hearyourthought on Twitter. Click below for Gina's full bio.