FORT LAUDERDALE - This Tuesday is the start of the new year for Broward public schools.
Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright said she's excited for students and teachers to head back to class. She said this year a big focus will be on academics and pushing the students to new limits.
She added that school safety will also be a top priority.
"My number one priority is to ensure that we are providing a safe and secure environment, as well as an academically challenging year for them," she said.
Cartwright said the district will also face challenges. One such hurdle comes in the wake of the Parental Rights in Education law, which critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" law. She said the legislative changes need clarification.
"Really getting a better understanding of what is allowed and what is not allowed. Right now, we are waiting for the state to give us that interpretation," she said.
When it comes to teachers, and hiring enough for the year, Cartwright said the district was more aggressive this year in its recruiting and it paid off.
"We've had job fairs where we have said 'whatever job you're looking for, come on in'. So, we've really expanded those out. We're also working with a company that also finds individuals from overseas," she said.
Being the school district where the Parkland massacre took place, Cartwright said she knows many families have fears about safety, especially those directly impacted by the tragedy.
"For the families that are dealing with the loss of loved ones, murdered lives, frankly, I am truly truly sorry that they're having to go through this," she said.
The superintendent said no student or teacher should be fearful walking into a school but we are now facing an unfortunate new reality.
"As educators, frankly speaking, this shouldn't be something we have to go through or be worried about, but it is. So, we take it seriously," said Cartwright.
She said the metal detector program they launched last year will remain in place this year.
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