Though the summer brought tough budget cuts to Treasure Coast schools, a push into the digital age and environmental consciousness will be top priorities for the school year that begins today as thousands of students head back to classrooms.
St. Lucie County school officials closed Port St. Lucie Elementary and Southbend K-8 School, both in Port St. Lucie, at the end of the last school year and eliminated middle school and junior varsity sports districtwide.
Martin County also made cuts in sports and tightened individual school budgets for expenses like field trips and school supplies, but the fact that two schools this year became Title I schools also brought extra federal money to the district.
Martin Schools Superintendent Nancy Kline on Friday said this year will be the first for the Martin Virtual School, which will provide online instruction to students at all grade levels.
“It’s particularly helpful for students who will have to take extended absences from school, though virtual schools in general are becoming more and more popular,” Kline said.
Some students in St. Lucie County will get a taste of the high-tech at two new charter schools — The Nau Charter School and Renaissance Charter School, both in Port St. Lucie.
Renaissance Principal Eric Lewis said teachers at the new school spent the last few weeks reviewing curriculum and learning how to navigate around high-tech classrooms inside the $10 million building, which will include five laptop computers in each classroom.
“We used to think of the average classroom supplies in terms of papers and pencils, or glue and glitter, but now there are so many other tools at our disposal,” Lewis said.
And though the St. Lucie County school officials made significant cuts to the district’s after-school programs, some administrators still found ways for expansion.
Leaders at Village Green Elementary, for example, responded to news that their after-school environmental program would be cut with plans to integrate the program into their day-to-day curriculum. They unveiled plans for the school’s Global Environmental Studies Center magnet in June, a plan St. Lucie Schools Superintendent Michael Lannon said will actually save the district money.
“What they’ve been able to do is remarkable,” Lannon said.
DETAILS BY COUNTY
Charters: Two new charter schools, The Nau Charter and Renaissance Charter, open today.
Sports: Budget cuts mean no junior varsity or middle school athletics unless the schools are able to pay for them.
Transportation: Transportation hotline is 772-340-4849. The phones will be manned from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, with bilingual staff available. Transportation to magnet schools will be more limited this year, with fewer stops.
Supplies: Supply lists for individual schools, open house schedules and sports release forms are available online.
For more information, visit www.stlucie.k12.fl.us
Funding: Though school officials had to make cuts, the naming of two schools as Title I schools brought extra funding to the district.
Virtual School: Students for the first time will be able to receive instruction online through the Martin Virtual School. Eligible students had until August 12 to enroll.
Academics: Academically advanced middle school students in Martin this year will have more opportunities to take high school courses like Geometry, Integrated Science and Algebra. The 8th grade academic intervention program, which last school year helped 148 students in danger of failing pass through to the 9th grade, will be expanded to also target 6th and 7th graders.
Transportation: For transportation questions, call: 772-219-1287
For more information, visit www.sbmc.org.