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Students Head Back To School Monday

Jim Allen Elementary

The final countdown is on toward the beginning of a new school year this coming Monday morning and the school districts on the Panhandle are ready to go. Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says everyone in the district is prepared for the 20145-15 school year. He says there have been some construction projects around the county over the summer that will carry over into the school year, saying Suter Elementary and Earnest Ward are probably the most notable  new construction projects that will not be complete for the beginning of the school year. Thomas also says construction continues on several gymnasium projects, with every middle school in Escambia County having its own gym by the summer of 2015.

One major change in schools all over the state this year is the conversion to Florida standards and a new test at the end of the year. The new year end test, which will be replacing the FCAT this school year was chosen a relatively short time ago. Superintendent Thomas says they'll worry about that as the term progresses, concentrating instead on the standards and making sure the students are learning and having fun with the changes.

Thomas also says the district has changed their policy regarding student cell phones. This year students will be allowed to have their devices on, but they must be silent. Another change is that students on suspension will be allowed to make up work they miss and not get an automatic zero. And enrollment in the county is up. In fact, after falling for about a dozen years, the last few have seen steady growth in the number of students.

That's also true in Santa Rosa County. Tim Wyrosdick, superintendent of schools in Santa Rosa County says enrollment in the district has risen by about 200 students this year. He also says the changeover to Florida Standards  this year will be an ongoing process during the school year., and is making sure the teachers have enough materials and professional development opportunities to make the transition smooth.

And Wyrosdick says the financial picture in the Santa Rosa County district is looking better, calling this his first year as superintendent with a plus budget.  To parents in Santa Rosa County, Wyrosdick has a direct message: attendance will be a priority this year, so please get your students to school, on time, every day, all day.

And that all starts this coming Monday morning as the 2014-2015 school year begins.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.