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November 3, 2005

Jennifer Fennell
(850) 245-0413

Department of Education Announces Additional Assistance for School Districts Impacted by Hurricanes
DOE will grant waivers, provide additional time for administration of FCAT for hardest hit districts

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Education (DOE) announced it will grant waivers providing flexibility on required school days and extensions for administering the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) to those districts impacted by the 2005 hurricane season. The provisions outlined in a memo to district school superintendents were modeled after those offered last year following Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.

"The State of Florida has faced another difficult hurricane season that has once again caused disruption to our school system," said Education Commissioner John L. Winn. "We understand the challenges facing school districts and are committed to working closely with them to ensure they have the flexibility they need to best serve our students."

As of today, Florida districts have missed a total of 134 school days due to hurricanes. The DOE is providing districts with additional flexibility to address missed days provided they maintain the required minimum of 900 hours of instruction time. Districts missing five days or fewer are required to make up the lost instructional time to the extent needed to meet the minimum required number of hours. Those missing six or more days must review their school calendars and identify options for meeting the required instructional hours. DOE staff will work with districts on a case-by-case basis to determine the number of days/minutes of instructional time to be waived.

Districts may use a combination of make-up days, additional minutes or existing instructional hours beyond 900 hours to meet this requirement. Many districts have already adjusted their calendars to accommodate for days missed.

"It is important that we as an education community pull together in times like this," said K12 Public Schools Chancellor Cheri Pierson Yecke. "We plan to work with each district to find solutions that support student learning and respond to the needs of their communities."

In addition, affected districts will be granted more time to administer the FCAT based on the number of school days missed. Districts which have missed five days or less will administer the FCAT as originally scheduled while those missing six to 10 days may have one extra week for administration and those missing 11 days or more have two extra weeks to administer the test. All districts will administer the FCAT Writing as scheduled.

All requested for waivers or FCAT extensions must be submitted to the DOE.