Sarasota County Schools working to rebound after Ian

ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2022 at 7:49 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - As Sarasota County Schools looks to get things back to normal after Hurricane Ian, it’s become a little more challenging than expected.

Many of the district’s employees are struggling to pick up the pieces in their personal lives, let alone their professional ones. One teacher in particular says her home in Venice was near the eyewall of the hurricane.

Her home flooded making it uninhabitable to live in. Now, she and her husband are staying at a friend’s house while they go through the insurance process and work to recoup what they lost.

All of this, while trying to focus on her career as a speech language therapist for Sarasota County Schools.

“It’s been hard to sleep since then. I wake up just kinda with nightmares about that night. Because we didn’t know if we were going to live or die,” said Diane Davis of Sarasota County Schools. “So, in a way it feels good to get back to some normalcy. But, it’s hard to be stretched so thin.”

Davis says she works in Special Education and these past two weeks have been the time where they’re evaluated by the state for funding. She says with the district being out last week and trying to restart this week—it’s created an even bigger hurdle for her department.

She says her administrators have noticed the amount of stress she’s under trying to balance work and personal life. After turning down their offers for help, she says they did it anyway.

“I said, ‘no, we’re good right now but I’ll let you know.’ I went back to my therapy room and there were two gift certificates to Walmart sitting on my computer. I knew it was from her—or them, the administrators. I can’t say enough about the administrative staff at Venice High,” she said.

Superintendent Asplen and others from the district have tried to provide resources for their employees to make the transition easier like holding an event where they could speak face-to-face with organizations, like FEMA, to get some help.

“A lot of our folks—some have lost their houses, some have lost their cars. It’s just amazing—their work ethic, their dedication and love they have for our students. We just need to make sure we’re helping our employees with any resources that we have,” he said.

According to Asplen and Davis, it’s trying to get back to normal which is what motivates Sarasota School employees to keep going.

“We want to return to normalcy as fast as we can,” said Asplen. “I know all of our teachers know that. Our parents, they want their children back in school as well.”

Davis added, “I’m a speech language therapist. I want to be there for my kids. So in a way it’s good to get back to some normalcy.”