Florida schools roundup: Grading, charters, pay raises and more

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IMG_0001.JPGSchool grading: The Seminole County School District is considering changes to its controversial middle-school grading system for assignments and tests, from the 0-4 method back to something like the traditional 0-100 model. Orlando Sentinel.

Charter schools controversy: Academica’s for-profit charter school Doral Academy has narrowly won approval to open in Jefferson County, Colorado. Academica runs charter schools in Florida, and last year the Miami Herald has reported the company is being scrutinized by the U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general. Colorado Independent. Convicted felon Demetrio Perez Jr. has borrowed $56.2 million in mortgages for 70 properties in Miami-Dade County, including the Lincoln-Marti charter schools. Perez served six months of house arrest in 2002 for defrauding elderly tenants in low-income apartments. Real Deal.

School achievement: Indiantown’s Warfield Elementary School is full of poor students, many of whom speak only Spanish, but has been earned an A grade from the state for 11 consecutive years. How does it do it? TCPalm. A Volusia County schools program aims to get minority students and struggling ones into more advanced education classes. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

District pay raises: Administrators and non-instructional employees in the Lake County School District are getting a raise. Daily Commercial.  Orlando Sentinel. Polk County teachers are angry over the lack of progress with the school board over pay raises and teacher evaluations. Lakeland Ledger. A group within the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association is urging teachers to reject the latest contract proposal from the school district. Tampa Bay Times.

District funding: The Polk County School District is asking the legislative delegation for help with capital improvements and extra money for early learning and reading programs. Lakeland Ledger. The Manatee County School Board should resume imposing impact fees on development, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune editorializes.

Community school planner: Tallahassee’s community schools group, which is trying to build a school in which students receive quality education and increased access to social services, is considering hiring a project planner. Tallahassee Democrat.

School resource officers: A series of high-profile incidents of school police officers restraining students, in Florida and elsewhere, are drawing greater scrutiny to the presence of the officers and their role. Washington Post.

Tax credit scholarships: Bishop Victor T. Curry, head of the Save our Scholarships Coalition, defends the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program in an Orlando Sentinel oped column. The program provides private-school vouchers funded by corporate tax payments to about 77,000 lower-income students. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the tax credit scholarship program. Orlando Sentinel.

School testing: Plans to curb mandatory school testing need further definition to ensure that the time spent preparing for tests is used instead for learning, the Columbia Chronicle editorializes.

Construction hearing: The community meeting to discuss the placement of a new high school adjacent to gated communities in Bonita Springs has been moved to a larger venue and a new date. Fort Myers News-Press.

Farm-fresh emphasis: Collier County school officials believe their farm-to-school program helps the schools, local farmers and students eating in school cafeterias. Naples Daily News.

Letter from the governor: Pasco County school officials are being told not to print and pass out a letter to high school seniors from Gov. Rick Scott that encourages them build a future in Florida. Gradebook.

Students mourn classmate: Students at Davis Elementary School in Tampa create cards, cry and remember a fifth-grader who was killed in a hit-and-run over the weekend. Tampa Tribune. Tampa Bay Times.

School enrichment: French singer-songwriter Eric Vincent performs for students at Palmetto High School as part of National French Week celebration. Bradenton Herald. The Jackson County Education Foundation is selling 500 “Jacksonopoly” board games to raise money. If it sells out, about $35,000 could be directed to county schools. Jackson County Floridan. Two students with autism are crowned homecoming king and queen at Lake Mary High School. Orlando Sentinel. Middle- and high-school students in Lee County learn CPR after 40 training kits are donated. Fort Myers News-Press. The St. Joe Community Foundation donates $60,000 for an air-conditioning system for Holy Nativity Episcopal School in Panama City. Panama City News Herald.

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Jim Booth graduated from Mount Union College (in Alliance, Ohio, with a degree in political science and American studies) and began his career as a reporter at a small newspaper in Ohio. He and his family moved to St. Petersburg in 1978, and he held a variety of positions in the newsrooms of the St. Petersburg Evening Independent and the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) before retiring in 2013.