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Over the last several years, many school districts have been struggling to fill vacant teaching positions not just in quantity but also with quality teachers, especially in math, science, special education and English as a Second Language, areas where teachers are most hard to come by.

Julie Young, president and CEO of Florida Virtual School in Orlando, is all smiles over the latest Advanced Placement test results that show Florida Virtual School has once again outscored both the state and nation, even though it works with many underserved students in the Sunshine State.

It seems outrageous at first: spend millions of dollars on a high school sports facility instead of academic programs and facilities. Yet many districts are building enormous, extravagant football stadiums and field houses, and it's benefiting students and communities to boot.

In the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, a suburb of Indianapolis, Ind., 97 percent of first- and second-graders gained at least one instructional reading level, 82 percent rose two levels or higher, and 34 percent rose three levels or more in the 2005-2006 year.

The 1999 shootings at Columbine High got administrators thinking about it.

The tragedy of 9/11 made many sign up for it.

And the recent spate of school-related shootings last fall has

confirmed for others that an emergency notification system is not an extra, but a necessity.

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