Florida schools roundup: Achievement, funding, uniforms and more

Jim Booth

IMG_0001.JPGSchool achievement: Palm Beach County boasts of being the state’s top performing urban school district, but an analysis shows it also has some of the largest achievement gaps between white and minority students. Palm Beach Post. Three recent studies report that students who are poor, are minorities, have disabilities or speak limited English are at a significant disadvantage in schools. Jacksonville Times-Union.

School funding: A recent Florida auditor general report shows Florida’s school districts have fewer funds available for unexpected expenses than in previous years. Gradebook. State Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, is looking for a way to change the state formula that has left Lake County next-to-last in per-pupil spending. Daily Commercial.

School construction: Broward County voters passed an $800 million bond a year ago to fix aging schools, but little work has been done so far. Sun-Sentinel.

Dress code disparities: Volusia County high schools have disparities in dress-code enforcement, and Tuesday the school board will consider a policy requiring uniforms. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

School suspensions: Fewer students are being suspended from Hillsborough County schools, but the teachers union says there’s more to the story. Tampa Tribune.

Security checks: To boost school security, Orange County schools are requiring visitors to present government-issued identification, which can be used to check against court databases. Orlando Sentinel.

School start times: The Manatee County School Board, citing research that shows students do better academically after getting a full night’s rest, will consider later school start times. Bradenton Herald. The Volusia County School Board will vote Tuesday on a proposal to start the 2016-17 school year Aug. 15 and end it May 26. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Charter schools: The Palm Beach County School Board’s rejection of a Charters Schools USA application last week brought emotion into a longstanding legal standoff. Palm Beach Post.

Home-schooling: Three Santa Rosa County families have been denied requests to home-school their children. Santa Rosa Press Gazette.

Superintendents going, coming: Raising teachers’ pay and dealing with the Florida State Assessment Test are two of the biggest challenges for the Gadsden County School District, says retiring Superintendent Reginald James. Havana Herald. The Lee County acting school superintendent, Greg Adkins, is an educator and a farmer. Fort Myers News-Press.

Recruiting allegations: Duval County schools are investigating several reports of student-athletes being inappropriately recruited by schools and coaches. First Coast News.

Drug-testing: Once the leader of the movement to drug-test student-athletes for steroid use, Don Hooton now acknowledges the Texas program was bound to fail because of the cost and difficulty in detection. Florida tried testing in 2007, but ended the program after a year. Huffington Post.

Teacher discipline: A state administrative judges rules that an ex-Clay County middle school teacher used reasonable force to restrain a 13-year-old in a 2013 incident. The teacher retains his license to teach physical education, but the system says it has no plans to reinstate him. Jacksonville Times-Union.

Threat postpones rally: Sanford’s Seminole High School cancels a student rally Friday after rumors spread that someone had threatened to “shoot up the pep rally.” Orlando Sentinel.

Laser injures bus driver: A school bus driver in Germany suffers permanent eye damage after a student pointed a toy laser at his eye. Live Science.

Veteran helps school: Lucille Moore Elementary School in Bay County is the recipient of a veteran’s generosity. William Boyd donated the proceeds of the sale of his house – $79,900 – to the school just down the street. Panama City News Herald.

Student enrichment: Eighteen middle- and high-schools compete in a robotics competition at the University of West Florida. Pensacola News Journal. The Santa Rosa School District is holding eight week-long camps next summer in a variety of STEM subjects. Pensacola News Journal. More than 1,500 Palm Beach County middle- and high-schoolers get a lesson on the Holocaust by watching ballet. Sun-Sentinel. Brevard County Schools’ 5,000-member Legacy Club is helping older citizens with technology issues. Florida Today. A mock election at Seminole Ridge High School gets students excited about politics. Palm Beach Post. Seventeen Polk County schools receive grants that are intended to help students see the link between music and math and science. Lakeland Ledger. Pop icon Meredith O’Connor entertains at several schools in Lake County with her anti-bullying message. Daily Commercial. The Museum of Discovery and Science and United Way team to offer 35 internships to Broward County juniors interested in science and learning to write computer code. Sun-Sentinel. A Lee County teacher and two students appear in an episode of a Curious Kids TV show on the environment that is up for a Suncoast Emmy award. Fort Myers News-Press. Fourteen Polk County schools will compete for the first time in girls weightlifting. Lakeland Ledger. Manatee High School’s marching band is ranked “superior” in the Florida School Music Association’s District 11 Marching Band competition for the 29th consecutive year. Bradenton Herald. Alachua County fourth-graders get a free tour of the Florida Museum of Natural History. The Independent Florida Alligator.

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