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PRESS RELEASE

June 24, 2005

Melanie Mowry Etters
(850) 245-0413

Mike Stone or Sherilyn Burris, EOC
(850) 413-9969

School Superintendents Visit EOC

Tallahassee — Representatives from 36 of Florida's school districts came to Tallahassee today to learn about what the state and the Department of Education (DOE) do when hurricanes strike. DOE partnered with the Florida Association of District School Superintendents and Florida's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for this event. This is the first time DOE has invited school superintendents to tour the EOC and learn about the integrated approach the state has to disasters such as the four hurricanes last year.

Department of Education Commissioner John Winn and Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate briefed the group on Florida's Emergency Management Plan and DOE's roles and responsibilities. Schools are one of the state's top three priorities to reopen after a natural disaster.

Last hurricane season, every school district in the state was impacted by closing school for at least one day, with over a dozen districts closing for more than a week. Around the state, 57 schools were critically damaged or destroyed.

Education Commissioner John Winn said, "We brought everyone here today because I wanted all the districts around the state to know what resources are available when a hurricane strikes. We all have to work together to get schools open as soon as possible after a natural disaster. It is a team effort."

St. Lucie County School Superintendent and incoming president of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents Mike Lannon said, "After two hurricanes had hit our district, I remember this great sense of aloneness. This is wonderful to know there are resources to assist us and we need to make sure all districts are trained in how to best respond when a hurricane hits."

DOE plans to invite superintendents to Tallahassee each year to update them on the best methods and resources in responding to natural disasters.