CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Nearly 40,000 students return to school in Clay County Thursday. Some will head to school where a new security measure is in place; all students will need to be aware of a new state-wide cell phone policy.
For students and teachers at Spring Park Elementary School, the new school year means a whole new school. The Clay County school district spokesperson says Spring Park Elementary also has a new security system. Every school will have the new system, starting with high schools throughout the county.
The new security measure is called a SAFE (Signal Alert for Education) System and allows teachers to quickly contact first responders.
A new Florida law impacts technology that is used in the classroom. House Bill 379 prohibits certain platforms on district-owned devices and regulates cell phone use for students. Students are not allowed to use them in class under most circumstances.
In Clay County classrooms, there are 45 vacant classroom instructional positions, according to the spokesperson, but every bus route has a driver. The school's superintendent says they're planning to have up to four new schools open within the next seven years.
On Wednesday, dozens of teachers got free school supplies thanks to the Clay Education Foundation.
"It's a huge need," said Clay Education Foundation President and CEO Carolyn Krall. "Every year we know that teachers spend about $500 of their own money to supply their classroom. So, this really just alleviates the burden on our teachers so that we can provide them with this."
Krall says 570 teachers collected up to $70,000 in school supplies for free. Brady White just graduated from the Clay County school district and volunteered at the event, which was held at the Garber Automall in Green Cove Springs.
"They're there before students get there and they're there after we leave," White said about his teachers. "I owe them my future. If I wasn't prepared by them, I wouldn't be able to go out and give back to them."