Secretary DeVos visits Bay District Schools, sees damage first-hand

Published: Nov. 26, 2018 at 11:52 AM CST
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Washington leaders have made their way to the Florida Panhandle following Hurricane Michael.

United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited Bay District Schools with Congressman Neal Dunn Monday morning. They made stops at Cedar Grove, which is going by the nickname "Cedarfield" since absorbing Springfield Elementary.

"Cedarfield" won't be alone come standardized testing season in spring.

"We've been working closely with the department here in Florida and are going to do everything we can to ensure that all factors are taken into account and the kinds of waivers that might be necessary are granted," Secretary DeVos said.

Afterward, they met with other school and political leaders for a round table discussion at Rutherford High School.

Some in attendance included Superintendent Bill Husfelt, newly-elected Bay District School Board Chair Steve Moss, Gulf District Superintendent Jim Norton, and Representative Jay Trumbull.

Rutherford High School students were welcome to ask questions.

One student asked what can be done to help students pay for college after Hurricane Michael.

Secretary DeVos cited financial aid and went on to say, "I'm pretty confident that many schools are going to look at applications from students in this impacted area differently."

During her time here, Secretary DeVos assessed some of the damage left behind by Hurricane Michael.

“I just really give a lot of credit to the community for coming together and figuring out a solution to meet students’ needs immediately. My purpose for being here is to see firsthand what is going on,” Secretary DeVos said.

Bay District Schools has listed out some needs and requests following the storm including housing assistance, financial aid for employees, and federal student aid forbearance.

"They understand the economic impact. See, what people look at right now, they see the devastation, the housing, the roads, the trees and all that, but behind all that, is the economic ability to recover," Superintendent Bill Husfelt said.

In other words, without money, the community can't recover economically.

"We want to be standing with you as you continue your recovery efforts," Secretary DeVos said during the round table discussion.

The road to recovery may be long, but it's not being traveled alone.