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PRESS RELEASE

October 11, 2004

MacKay Jimeson
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner Winn Applauds Re-opening of All Florida School Districts
Commissioner brings truckload of schools supplies to aid recovery effort

PENSACOLA — Education Commissioner John Winn today commended Escambia County Public Schools and all of Florida's school districts for their speedy re-opening after being devastated by four hurricanes since August. To aid their recovery effort, Commissioner Winn unloaded a truck of school supplies donated by Goodys, Good Shepherd Church in Tallahassee, and the Florida Education Foundation to J.H. Workman Middle School and Bellview Elementary School, which is on double sessions with Longleaf Elementary School in Pensacola. The re-opening of Escambia and Santa Rosa Public Schools marked the opening of all school districts in Florida.

"Florida has faced great challenges during this tumultuous hurricane season," Commissioner Winn said. "I applaud Superintendent Paul for his hard work getting the public schools online, making education a priority. Our state has been blessed by dedicated individuals, caring communities and helpful business partners, and I thank Goodys and Good Shepherd for their support to education during this difficult time."

The Florida Department of Education (DOE) has worked with businesses to provide support to schools impacted by the hurricanes. Goodys and other organizations joined the Florida Education Foundation in providing essential supplies such as; notebooks, paper, pencils as well as other items to benefit students, teachers and schools.

"It is important our community get back to a sense of normalcy and the focus must continue to be on learning, even during challenging times," Escambia Superintendent Jim Paul said. "I thank Governor Bush and the Department of Education for their support and flexibility to get our students back in the classroom. We must make the most of this school year and continue to provide our students with the quality education they deserve."

Governor Jeb Bush has made the re-opening of schools a top priority and has signed several Executive Orders allowing for waivers of certain requirements, which will allow affected school districts to cope with the aftermath of Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, while providing immediate services to students. DOE has followed Governor Bush's lead by working with local officials to identify the immediate needs of affected schools. The state, with assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency, has helped affected school districts obtain portable classrooms, replace damaged buses, books and other instructional materials, furnishings and computers for new classrooms.

In addition, Commissioner Winn is dedicated to working closely with affected school districts to seek waivers from the federal government where necessary. Governor Bush also sent letters to community college and university presidents urging them to adhere to waivers available to members of the National Guard enrolled in postsecondary education who have been called up to duty.

For more information on the department's plan to assist school districts please visit, www.fldoe.org.