OPINION: It’s Time to Shift Teachers on Special Assignment Back into Classrooms

Posted on September 15, 2022 by EDITORIAL BOARD

Santa Rosa County School District on September 12 announced it would be changing December 14 and 15 from early release to regular dismissal for secondary students in order to add instructional minutes.

Santa Rosa secondary students are in class 318 minutes per day – compared to 350 minutes per day in Okaloosa County. That equates to more than 22 days difference during a school year.

So when you hear about our neighbors not having to make up storm days…now you know why.

Perhaps Santa Rosa could add more instructional minutes for students by shifting some teachers on special assignment back into classrooms.

Pandemic recovery money was used to create a lot of new positions in Santa Rosa County School District, and now the district is scrambling to figure out how to maintain that cost.

I’m told we have around 27 teachers on special assignment and that the number of administrators has increased from 89 to 115 – despite having only added one new school, East Bay K-8.

During times when teachers struggle to find substitutes and sometimes have to divide up an absent teacher’s students amongst other teachers to get through a day, maybe the answer is right before our eyes at the Douglas A. Dillon Administrative Complex.

I find it hard to believe that the community survey taken ahead of spending the federal pandemic recovery money showed taxpayers wanted to fund more jobs at the Dillon Administrative Complex.

Okaloosa County has around 35,000 students, and Santa Rosa County has around 31,000, yet Okaloosa has less teachers on special assignment.

It’s time for the school board members to step in and address not only how the district lost more than $300,000 in pandemic funding but also how Title I money is seemingly being “reallocated” to help the cushy, out-of-classroom positions.

Let’s get these teachers back to calling roll every day so that other teachers aren’t left carrying too much burden and important Title 1 programs don’t go lacking.