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PRESS RELEASE

March 17, 2003

Contact: Bill Edmonds
Florida Department of Education
(850) 201-7130

State Board of Education holds workshop on training and recruiting high-quality teachers

TALLAHASSEE — The State Board of Education completed a workshop today in which board members explored ways to fill the anticipated shortage of 22,500 teachers this fall.

Phil Handy, chairman of the board, described the shortage as a crisis and the leading challenge facing Florida's schools. "The State Board of Education almost 18 months ago recognized that the recruitment and retention of skilled teachers was a serious problem in Florida and made this issue its top priority. Since then, the passage of the Class Size Amendment has only sharpened this need and has raised the issue to greater public awareness."

Handy noted that the board has established as its No. 1 Strategic Imperative the goal of increasing the supply of highly qualified K-12 instructors.

At today's workshop at Tallahassee Community College, board members heard updates on the national teacher shortage and the situation in Florida, the changing demographics of Florida's schools, efforts to recruit and retained high-quality teachers and the role of alternative certification.

"We had a good discussion today, and thanks to this workshop we are all better informed and ready to take further steps to bring into the classrooms the number of teachers we need and the kind of teachers our students deserve," Handy said. "The board is taking responsible action to deal with the leading issue in education in our state."

The State Board of Education will continue Tuesday with a board meeting in TCC's Legislative Research Center and Museum, 444 Appleyard Drive. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m.

At Tuesday's board meeting, the State Board of Education will consider recommendations from the Governor's Emerging Technology Commission that three state universities receive $10 million each to establish research Centers of Excellence. If approved by the board, this special funding would go to the University of Florida, for a Center of Excellence in Regenerative Health Biotechnology, to the University of Central Florida, for a Florida Photonics Center of Excellence, and to Florida Atlantic University, for a Florida Center of Excellence in Biomedical and Marine Biotechnology.

Information on these recommendations and other meeting materials are available on the Florida Department of Education's Web site at www.fldoe.org/meetings/Mar_18_03/agenda.asp.

The State Board of Education will also unveil the latest innovation to the FACTS.org system, a Web-based tool that, for the first time, allows parents and high-school students to compare high-school transcripts against requirements for scholarships and college admission. FACTS.org — Florida Academic Counseling and Tracking for Students — is available via the Internet throughout Florida.

In addition, the board will hear proposals to establish at Okaloosa-Walton Community College two baccalaureate degrees — in Nursing and in Applied Science in Project and Acquisitions Management — and hear appeals of six charter school applications.