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ACPS Superintendent Carlee Simon says district will receive withheld funding back from FDOE

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 10:20 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Superintendent Carlee Simon said salary withheld from Alachua County School Board members for imposing a mask mandate is supposed to be returned to the district.

She said they will receive the funds according to the state commissioner of education’s response to the U.S. Department of Education but we could not confirm with FDOE.

There is also nothing that says the board members will get the money back, in the order from the state demanding the mask mandate ends.

“It is noted in his response to the U.S. Department of Education that once we are in what they perceive to be in compliance that they are looking for, all of the funds that they have been withholding will be returned to the district,” Simon said.

Simon said the mandate could end when children under 12 can get vaccinated, which may happen in November.

Related story: Alachua County School District Superintendent responds to an order from the Florida Department of Education

“I think as more of that rolls out, we’ll be able to loosen our constraints associated with the masking but right now as a school district we need to do what we are constitutionally required to do and that’s provide a safe educational environment,” Simon said.

She said the board has stood by the mandate to protect kids and teachers.

“and if we lose teachers in our workforce that will impact the quality of our education for our students,” Simon added.

“There are also a number of teachers who don’t want the mask mandates,” Board Member Mildred Russell said.

Russell, whose salary isn’t affected, voted against the newest protocols.

“My reasoning is that it should be an individual’s choice,” Russell said. “It should be a parent’s choice.”

To make up for the lost salaries, the district received a project safe grant of about $147 thousand from the federal government, but they have to follow federal and CDC guidelines to keep it.

“They are receiving federal money, so along with that comes strings,” Russell said.

We have reached out to FDOE for confirmation and have not heard back at the time of publication.

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