Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Education Board Gets Primer on Duties

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Education Board Gets Primer on Duties

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Humphrey, Times-Union staff writer

MIAMI -- On the first day of its first meeting, the new Florida Board of Education gathered in a high school auditorium yesterday for a day of schooling.

The seven-member board, appointed this year by Gov. Jeb Bush to oversee everything from kindergarten to college, heard about the broad responsibilities it will have following the most significant shift ever in the way Florida schools are governed.

Board members learned about the task of preparing a coordinated budget for the state's entire education system, listened to a lecture about Florida's public meetings and open records laws and were briefed on their looming mission to rewrite 19 chapters of state education statutes.

The board also sat through discussions about Florida's varying systems of education, from public K-12 and state universities to private schools and home schools.

Board members, who will likely play a more active role when the two-day meeting resumes this morning with a more robust agenda than yesterday, are upbeat about the challenges ahead.

"I think if you are committed to the process, if you work as a team, if you come without individual agendas and come with clarity and strong focus on the process, it's amazing what human beings can do," said T. Willard Fair, a board member from Miami.

The new system, deemed more than two dozen times yesterday as "seamless," is the result of a massive education overhaul approved by legislators after seven months of study by a Republican-appointed task force. The system, supporters say, is designed to allow students to move smoothly through all Florida schools.

But the repeated mention of "seamless" left at least one board member, Charles Garcia of Miami, baffled. Garcia had previously asked five people about the word's meaning; he received five different answers. …

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