Florida schools roundup: District changes, early education and more

Jim Booth

IMG_0001.JPGSchool district changes?: State Sen. Jeff Brandes and State Rep. Matt Caldwell, both Republicans, support changes to the state constitution that could, among other things, allow the breakup of countywide school districts and end nonpartisan school board elections. Tampa Bay Times.

Charter schools: A Pinellas County charter school is being asked to account for a $75,000 federal grant or return the money to the district. Tampa Bay Times. The Palm Beach County School Board denies the applications of four charter schools. Palm Beach Post.

School testing: Joanne McCall, new president of the Florida Education Association, says the union will continue to fight against “testing mania.” Orlando Sentinel. Florida’s standardized assessment tests should be used as a baseline to measure progress, not to grade schools and teacher, the Bradenton Herald editorializes. Wendy Bradshaw talks about her very public resignation from a Polk County elementary school. Tampa Bay Times.

Early education: Bay County school officials and community leaders are launching an initiative to improve educational opportunities for children from the cradle to entering the workforce. Panama City News Herald.

Civics education: Two U.S. representatives from Florida, Republican Dennis Ross and Democrat Gwen Graham, are urging high schools to provide more civics education. Sunshine State News.

Lottery sales: Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow lottery ticket sales by automated credit and debit card machines, saying it could boost the amount of money going to education. WFSU.

Social media policies: Most Florida school districts have no policies surrounding the use of social media by employees, a study by a University of Florida doctoral student reveals. University of Florida.

Financial audit: Here’s what Hillsborough school officials might be facing if they hire the Gibson Consulting Group to do a financial audit. Gradebook.

Literacy improvement: The literacy rate in Indian River County schools is up 12 percent, in large part due to Learning Alliance programs. TCPalm.

Superintendent shopping: Hernando County School Superintendent Lori Romano is applying for the top job in Osceola County. Tampa Bay Times.

School calendar: Lee County schools sets Aug. 10 as the first day of the 2016-2017 school year. Fort Myers News-Press.

Guns at school: A Miami Jackson Senior High student is arrested for bringing a gun to school. Miami Herald. A fifth grader’s toy gun leads to a lockdown at Orange Brook Elementary School in Hollywood. Sun-Sentinel. A 17-year-old Manatee High School student who brought a BB gun to school is barred from returning to school and will take online courses the rest of this school year. Bradenton Herald.

Educators die: Gulf Coast High drama teacher Scarlett LaVite, 51, dies during a snorkeling outing while on a cruise. Naples Daily News. Patricia Rouse, assistant principal at Ft. Braden Elementary School, dies at 45. Tallahassee Democrat.

Employee discipline: A spilled water bottle leads to a tirade that may get a Boca Raton middle school math teacher fired. Palm Beach Post. A Duval County schools police officer is suspended after a scuffle with a parent. Jacksonville Times-Union.

Teacher upsets PETA: A video of a Sickles High School teacher juggling three dead frogs during class leads to a call from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for the state to ban animal dissection in schools. Tampa Bay Times.

Students and cell phones: Should parents monitor their child’s cell phone activity? A parent and teacher offers some guidelines. Miami Herald.

Racial slurs: Miami Palmetto Senior High School is reeling after racial slurs are posted on a social media chat forum. Miami Herald.

Student enrichment: A man born without limbs is sharing his anti-bullying message with students across Florida. Sun-Sentinel. Orlando Sentinel. Students at Dundee Elementary School are assembling 20 prosthetic hands printed by their 3-D printer to donate to other children. Lakeland Ledger. The Smiles Care a Van stops in Pasco schools to dispense free preventative dental services. Tampa Bay Times. An Orlando student who grew up in the foster care system and is now at Florida State University talks about his life. Orlando Sentinel. A Boca Raton ninth-grader creates an ocean energy probe to win the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Palm Beach Post. Gulf Breeze High School drama instructor Margie Timmons is named Florida Association for Theatre Education’s teacher of the year. Pensacola News Journal. Patronis Elementary students get hands-on experience at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City. Panama City News Herald.

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