PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — Gulf County school leaders say the district is facing several challenges stemming from Hurricane Michael.
Superintendent of Gulf County Schools Jim Norton said the district lost between 75 and 100 students since the storm.
Students are referred to by the state as ‘full-time equivalents’ or FTE for short. Therefore the headcount of students is an important number for the district.
“Each un-weighted FTE is worth about $4,200 apiece to the district. You multiply that by 100 and you’re off about $400,000 in annual revenue. Annual revenue is important because it pays so many salaries and operational costs,” said Gulf County Schools Superintendent, Jim Norton.
With rebuilding continuing for the foreseeable future, that isn’t stopping them from trying actively recruiting staff members to the area.
“Well you’re always looking for staff, we’re looking for people to work in the lunchroom, diesel mechanics, bus drivers, and teachers,” said Norton.
Governor Desantis recently awarded the school district a million-dollar grant to compensate for their annual revenue shortfall. In addition to another million for HVAC issues in the schools.
“The legislature has found creative ways to help us bailout. They helped us last year, they helped us this year, and it appears that they will help us out next year. But still, from a recurring income standpoint, we’re still a million and a half dollars off,” said Norton.
The funding is a welcome relief to Gulf County School leaders.
“Optimism is the only prescription we have,” said Norton.
The district believes the timeline for total recovery is still a few years away.