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Martin County school board fails to delay school start date

In-person classes to begin Aug. 11
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Posted at 6:45 AM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 08:20:12-04

STUART, Fla. — The Martin County School District will not delay the start of the school year.

The school board voted late Tuesday 4-1 to approve the original calendar for the school year, starting the 2020-21 school year Aug. 11.

The school board and Martin County teacher's union both expressed a desire to delay the school year by two weeks, but their negotiations failed.

School board member Marsha Powers said school leaders told the community they would have a school start date decision by Tuesday night. To meet that promise and meet a Friday deadline to submit the school start plan to the state, Powers said they had limited options.

"I don't really know why we couldn't [come to an agreement] from their perspective, but this is going to be the best way for us to move along," Powers said. "Parents and teachers needed to know. Give them a start date so they can plan for their own families and their own child-care needs."

Teachers have to work 196 days to meet payroll requirements.

Karen Resciniti, president of the Martin County Education Association, said there were multiple issues in negotiations, including how some of the school days would be made up if the school year were delayed by two weeks.

"We had some real issues with the language and we had some calendar issues," she said. "We were hoping to get teachers and students back some of the days from Thanksgiving and winter break that were taken away, so we're trying to get some of those days back. But, again, the language, there was some very poor language for teachers that we feel would waive our rights on a lot of other bargaining issues."

The school board briefly discussed the possibility of doing all remote learning for two weeks and then opening the brick-and-mortar option Aug. 25. That option presented a host of other issues, such as a lapse in pay for bus drivers, making sure there were enough laptops to provide to all students and child-care issues.

Powers assures concerned teachers that the district is working diligently to address any safety concerns.

"I feel really comfortable with all of the things our staff are doing to make it as safe as possible for children to return to school and teachers to return to school," Powers said.

Thirty-seven% of Martin County students opted for remote learning when school starts.