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Palm Coast Saturday, Apr. 11, 2020 6 months ago

What about a graduation ceremony? Flagler Schools superintendent still has hope

Also, schools continue to try to contact 39 remaining students.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

Despite school buildings remaining closed at least till May 1, Flagler Schools administration is still looking at possible in-person graduation options for the class of 2020.

Meanwhile, over 99% of Flagler Schools students of all grades have been contacted by teachers since distance learning started March 30, and more than 25,000 meals have been distributed by Food and Nutrition Services.


Graduation plans

Superintendent James Tager said April 10 on WNZF’s “Free For All Friday” that many have worked hard to help students achieve graduation over the years, and he acknowledged that it’s a common experience that he doesn’t want seniors to lose.

“We want to do something for our seniors,” Tager said. “What it looks like, I don’t know yet. We may have some hope, if we flatten the curve, of getting kids back to school.”

May 28 is still the graduation date on the school calendar, and it’s still planned for the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, although that plan is in question.

“We’re looking for a way to do a celebration for kids — not necessarily virtual,” he said. “We want to have something that our kids and families can participate in and remember.”

He added: “No promises, but we ware working on that.”


Reaching everyone

Despite the success of reaching so many of the more than 12,000 students in Flagler Schools, 39 students still have not been reached, so Tager said administration would be paying visits to homes to make sure that number gets to 100%.

“I’m going to press our principals to get in touch with our 39 by next Friday,” he said.

Jason Wheeler, community information specialist, emphasized that students need to stay on schedule while they’re doing schoolwork from home.

“Find a quiet-ish spot,” he said. “You have to have a schedule. That’s important to get some normalcy.”

He expressed hope that “we’ll come out on the other side of this much better than we did going into this.”


Food distribution

Tager also praised the Food and Nutrition staff. He reported in a message posted on that the feeding program has shifted to the hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Thursday. On Thursday, students are given enough food for Thursday through Sunday. All children, up to age 18, are given to-go meals.

The Haw Creek Community Center had low turnout and will be discontinued as a mobile site for food distribution. The Carver Center site has been moved to the Versie Lee Mitchell Community Center, which is right next door, 10-10:30 a.m.

Two other mobile sites have also been added: Bulow RV Resort 10-11 a.m. and the FTI A1A Center noon to 12:30 p.m.

Meal delivery at the Hidden Trails Community Center will now be 10-11 a.m.; Espanola Community Center will be 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

“The USDA has also relaxed the requirement of having the children present to receive the meal, but Food and Nutrition Services still must verify who is using the service,” Tager wrote. If you would like to pick up meals without your child present, visit, click on the coronavirus tab on the far right, and then click “meal request.”


Hiring freeze

Bus drivers have been delivering food to the meal sites, Tager said.

“We’ve kept everybody on payroll at this point,” he said. “Were using all hands to get hold of our kids during this time.”

However, there will be no new hires in any position by the district. The Flagler County School Board approved the hiring of various positions at the April 7 meeting, but those were “in the pipeline” already before Tager implemented a hiring freeze on March 23, according to Chief Human Resources Director Jewel Johnson.

Tager praised Johnson for keeping staff updated on employment information during the virus outbreak. “You did a great job,” Tager said.


High school tennis courts

Flagler Palm Coast High School’s tennis courts will be resurfaced soon, for the first time in at least 20 years. The cost should be less than $50,000. Matanzas High School’s courts could also be resurfaced this summer, according to Dave Freeman, director of Plant Services.

If it weren’t for COVID-19, high school tennis season would be happening now, but all sports events have been canceled.


Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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