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Broward Public Schools To Reopen, Changing Florida’s Constitution, Small Business Trying To Survive The Pandemic

A young boy wearing a face mask and headphones sits in front of a laptop in an empty classroom with a teacher.
Emily Michot
Miami Herald
Nova Blanche Forman Elementary School teacher Attiya Batool teaches her fourth-grade class virtually as her son, Nabeel, does his second-grade classwork online wearing a mask and headphones during the first day of school in Broward, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.

Broward teachers can expect a pay raise and they might also be expected to come into the classroom next month. Plus, a measure on the November ballot that could dramatically change how voters update the state constitution. And how small businesses are making it through the pandemic.

On this Tuesday, Sept. 15, episode of Sundial:

Broward Public Schools To Reopen

Broward teachers can expect pay raises this week. The news comes as the county plans to reopen for in-person classes on Oct. 5, said Superintendent Robert Runcie during a school board meeting Tuesday.

When that time comes, teachers may not be allowed to work from home. Those who aren’t comfortable with teaching in person would have to take a leave of absence.

That's according to an email first reported by the Sun Sentinel. It was sent from Superintendent Runcie's chief of staff to School Board members Monday.

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The next day, Runcie clarified during a school board meeting that requests for accommodations or appropriate leaves will be considered but not guaranteed.

“If the district says that it's only come or take a leave, I can't afford to not go back to work. I have four kids. So I’m hoping that maybe there’s a third option before we go back,” said Anthony Schmieder, he teaches seventh and eighth graders with special needs at Pompano Beach Middle School.

We spoke with Schmeider and Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco about Broward County schools reopening and teacher’s pay raises.

Changing Florida’s Constitution

Florida voters have the ability to update the state’s constitution through civilian ballot initiatives.

In recent years, we saw the restoration of felons voting rights, regulations on e-cigarettes and a ban on offshore drilling all passed with this method. This November, voters will decide whether to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

And there’s another notable amendment up for a vote this year. It would dramatically change the whole process of civilian ballot initiatives, making it more difficult to update Florida’s constitution in the future.

If Amendment 4 passes in 2020, future amendments would have to go through not one but two statewide referendums in order to go into effect.

“There’s a lot of concern that there will be voter confusion, that people will see amendment four and think it’s the restoration of civil rights[that passed in 2018] when it’s actually the ‘make it even harder to amend the constitution’ [amendment],” said Jason Garcia, an investigative reporter at the Orlando Sentinel.

We spoke with Garcia about his new investigation into this constitutional amendment and the secretive nonprofit financing it.

Small Businesses Trying To Survive The Pandemic

Millions of small businesses continue to struggle because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Places like your local coffee shop, gym or movie theater that’s been forced to close or had to reduce the number of customers they see each day. As we continue to navigate this new normal, some small businesses are getting innovative to meet the needs of their customers.

“We were able to just combine an entire interest of all children from science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics and create a kit,” said Nicole Anyadike, the CEO of Kidology Enterprises, an afterschool program in Broward.

When schools went remote, she adapted and turned her programming virtual.

She got support through the Jim Moran Institute’s free program for entrepreneurs and the Small Business Development Council at Florida Atlantic University.

“That was one of the main concerts for parents, they wanted their children to be engaged but also to have connections with other children. So us being able to hop on a Zoom video call once a day to complete the experiment with 20 children at a time in class was amazing,” she said.

We spoke with Anyadike and Jennifer Kovach, the South Florida director for the Jim Moran Institute, about how small businesses are adapting during the pandemic.

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.