Florida schools roundup: Charters, virtual schools, science ed & more

Sherri Ackerman

Charter schools: Pinellas County School Board members give district attorneys the go-ahead to look into suing the state for a new law that creates uniform charter school contracts. The Tampa Tribune. 

florida-roundup-logoVirtual schools: Starting next month, after 16 years of providing a distance-learning option to students in kindergarten through 12th grade, Florida Virtual School will offer several courses for adults. The Tampa Tribune.

Science ed: Polk County’s public and private schools take different routes when teaching the concepts of evolution, creation. The Ledger. Even as politicians and educational leaders pledge allegiance to science, many Americans are skeptical about key tenets of scientific orthodoxy. The Ledger. A Cocoa science teacher is named by President Obama as one of 102 teachers in the country to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Florida Today.

School safety: Since the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy and the 27 school shootings that followed, Escambia and Santa Rosa county school officials are trying to restore a sense of security to parents, teachers and students. Pensacola News-Journal.

Name change: An about-face decision by a new seven-member Duval County School Board to drop the name of a high school that honored a Confederate soldier and former Klu Klux Klan member leaves activists wondering what other changes are possible now. Florida Times-Union.

School grades: When the state reworks its school grading system, Collier County’s superintendent is hopeful the bar will be raised and fairness also will prevail. Naples Daily News. All five Hernando County high schools saw their grades drop. Tampa Bay Times. It is time to overhaul Florida’s school grading system, which has been so tweaked and massaged as to be divorced from reality, writes the Tampa Bay Times.

Pay raises: An increase in administrator pay recently approved by the Santa Rosa County School Board is not sitting well with some teachers in the district. Pensacola News-Journal. Treasure Coast school leaders struggle to overhaul teacher pay based on performance. TC Palm.

Tony Bennett: The Indianapolis charter school at the center of Indiana’s grade-changing scandal saw its grade drop from an “A” to an “F.” Associated Press.

The best of 2013: StateImpact Florida looks at the year’s top education stories.

Grad rates: The graduation rate for Boca Ciega High in Pinellas County jumps from less than 62 percent to 85 percent in two years, prompting district officials to take notice. Tampa Bay Times.

Helping hand: Nonprofit store helps Central Florida school social workers get clothing and school supplies to needy students quickly. Orlando Sentinel.

Teacher grants: The Santa Rosa Foundation awards 53 teacher grants totaling $53,000. Pensacola News-Journal.

Job change: A former assistant superintendent for Hernando County schools argues his job transfer to warehouse manager constitutes a breach of contract. Tampa Bay Times. After frosty reviews where teachers complained about poor staff morale and a lack of communication, a recently hired North Port middle school principal is getting demoted. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Audits: The Manatee County School Board submits its response to an audit that finds, among other things, that the district has more than $6 million in questionable expenses. Bradenton Herald.

School leaders: A Manatee County school leader rises to the top during the district’s budget crisis then falls following a high-profile criminal case against a district coach and a troubled past comes to light. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School survey: A Sarasota County school survey on sex upsets some parents. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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