Florida schools roundup: Bonuses rescinded, testing objections and more

florida-roundup-logoBonuses rescinded: The Duval County School District sends 700 notices to teachers telling them they would receive performance bonuses from the district Thursday. But an error was made, and 273 teachers who got the notices will not be getting the bonuses because they don’t qualify.The performance pay bonuses are part of Duval’s privately funded Quality Education for All Initiative. Florida Times-Union.

Testing objections: A hard-of-hearing sophomore at Oviedo High School objects to an audio portion of the Florida Standards Assessments test. “Unless it’s going to be as loud as an airplane taking off, I’m going to miss words,” says Payton Bogert. Bogert wants closed captioning, but the Department of Education doesn’t offer it. Instead, the DOE will allow a teacher to read the audio portion to students like Payton. Orlando Sentinel. Leon County school officials will work with parents who do not want their children taking the Florida Standards Assessments tests. WFSU.

Capital investment: Florida is one of just three states that met or exceeded the minimum industry standard for capital construction investment from 1994-2013, according to a report from the 21st Century School Fund, the National Council on School Facilities and the Center for Green Schools. Here are the county-by-county breakdowns in Florida. Education Week.

Lack of opportunities: Minority teachers in Indian River County do not have adequate opportunities for promotions, charges the Treasure Coast chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The school district has not responded. TCPalm.

Self-evaluation: Duval School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti gives himself an “effective” rating on his self-evaluation. That’s one step down from the top rating of “highly effective.” School board members will issue their own evaluations of Vitti at a meeting March 31. Florida Times-Union.

Employees honored: Mary Beth Radigan, a special education teacher at Plant High School, is named Hillsborough County’s teacher of the year. Angela McKinnon, a guidance counselor at Young Middle Magnet School, is named Ida S. Baker Diversity educator of the year. And Wayne S. Moore, a security officer at Just Elementary School, is named instructional support employee of the year. Tampa Tribune. Tampa Bay Times.

Bear returns to schools: A 260-pound black bear seen last week near Three Oaks Elementary School in Fort Myers returned to the school Wednesday. This time state wildlife officers tranquilized the bear, which will be relocated. Fort Myers News-Press. Naples Daily News.

New principals: Nine Marion County schools will have new principals, effective July 1. Ocala Star Banner.

Spring break: Police officers are called to break up a party at Bradenton Beach, where more than 600 high school students had gathered. At least one fight was reported, but no arrests are made. Bradenton Herald. Panama City Beach decided to cut down on the debauchery during spring break. But the town paid a price. New York Times.

GED score lowered: The GED Testing Service lowers the test’s passing score from 150 to 145 — a shift that aimed to better measure student performance. The material on the test will not change. Tallahassee Democrat.

Teacher reprimanded: A Palm Beach County teacher has been reprimanded and fined by the state Education Practices Commission for threatening students. The district also suspended him for five days. James Byrd, 56, a science teacher at Loggers Run Middle School, threatened to throw students out of a window or off a roof, or cut out their tongues. He says the comments were meant to be sarcastic and humorous. Sun-Sentinel.

Student arrested: An 18-year-old Bayside High School student is arrested and accused of distributing child pornography via email last year. David Michael Lucio is charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography and two counts transmission of child pornography. Authorities were tipped off by Google.  Florida Today.

Opinions on schools: A world-class education includes the arts, and kids need more of it. Sheila Womble, Miami Herald.

 Student enrichment: Three Stone Magnet Middle School students launch “Project Table Etiquette,” which aims to tutor students on proper manners. Abigail Perez, Alexis Williams and Cierra Graham are researching the history of etiquette now as part of the Florida Future Problem Solving Program. Florida Today. Twenty-one magnet schools in Hillsborough County win Magnet Schools of Excellence or Magnet Schools of Distinction awards from Magnet Schools of America. Tampa Tribune. Dyana Mishra, a Brevard County fifth-grader, wins the Orlando Sentinel’s 57th annual spelling bee and a spot at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Orlando Sentinel. Florida Today. Mitchell High School’s Tyler Wetherill is named Pasco County’s outstanding senior student. Tampa Bay Times. Students at Brooksville’s Chocachatti Elementary School operate MicroSociety, a collection of businesses to help the community. Tampa Bay Times. Students from the Academy for Positive Learning charter school in Lake Worth travel to Cuba with gifts for the island’s schoolchildren. Palm Beach Post. More than 250 student at Sarasota’s Lakeview Elementary School take part in a twice-weekly Mileage Club. Students run laps to gradually reach 26 miles – the length of a marathon. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Sight-impaired students at the Florida Center for the Blind’s Transitional Program practice their dance moves for the Dancing in the Dark benefit for the nonprofit center. Ocala Star Banner. Leon County high school students get lessons in leadership when they spend a day at Tallahassee City Hall. Tallahassee Democrat. Art by Leon County high school students is on display through Saturday at the LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts. Tallahassee Democrat.

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