Flagler Schools knows first-hand what it takes to re-open following a hurricane strike. Our community was hit by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and then Hurricane Irma in 2017. When we saw the devastation in the panhandle following Hurricane Michael, our Flagler Schools family knew we needed to help.
With the help of Joe Rizzo, Executive Director of the Flagler County Education Foundation, we are sending help to the Bay District Schools. The FCEF has collected donations from Flagler Schools employees and student groups. On top of that though, we’ve had department heads go through their inventory. Says Rizzo, “I’ve been in touch with several Bay District School officials. There are many campuses which have nothing, they lost everything in the storm. Add that to the families who lost everything but what they could pack up before the storm hit, and you see what a devastating situation it is for that entire district.”
In our Transportation Department, we normally keep a number of high-mileage buses in inventory as back-ups. We currently have an order of nine new buses headed our way, so we’ve got the opportunity to loan three buses to Bay District Schools immediately. This will not impact the operations of our bus fleet.
But the desire is not to send the buses to Bay County empty. Today and tomorrow, Flagler Schools will park a bus in each of the two Flagler County Winn Dixie parking lots where members of the community can donate much-needed items. A list of those items can be found on the Flagler Schools website, www.flaglerschools.com. We’re looking specifically for classroom items and cleaning products. Please, do not donate clothing at this time. Flagler Schools thanks Flagler Broadcasting, Winn-Dixie, Flagler Technical Institute, and Flagler Volunteer Services for their support of this supply drive. Items will be accepted until 7:00 Wednesday night (October 31).
Flagler Schools also has a number of steps, ramps, and landings for portable or modular buildings we no longer use. Bay District Schools will use about 100 modular buildings to replace heavily damaged or destroyed schools in the coming weeks.
Additionally, we have surplus books for high school level classes we are no longer using, so those will be boxed up and sent up to be used by students in the Panhandle.
Flagler Schools Superintendent James Tager adds, “I want to thank everyone with Flagler Schools for reaching out and helping those in need, not only in Bay County but neighboring counties in northwest Florida. We’ve had teachers and students groups already raise money and collect supplies for colleagues and complete strangers alike. That compassion is what makes our community such a great place in which to live and work.”
The Flagler County Education Foundation is also accepting monetary donations which will go to district education foundations impacted by Hurricane Michael. Simply go to https://flagleredfoundation.org/get-involved/financial-support/ and under the dropdown menu of “Which Program Are You Helping,” choose “Hurricane Michael Relief.”
Flagler Schools strives to be the nation's premier learning organization. Our mission is to ensure educational success through high expectations and innovative thinking in a safe learning environment to empower students to reach their full potential as responsible, ethical, and productive citizens in a diverse and changing world. We can be reached online at http://flaglerschools.com, or https://www.facebook.com/FlaglerSchools and via telephone at 386-437-7526.