Florida schools roundup: Bonuses, education bill, schools on trial and more

florida-roundup-logoTeacher bonuses: The Best and Brightest teacher bonuses program is renewed for another year, as part of an overall state budget agreement. The Senate, which had been hesitant to include funding for the program, voted to set aside $49 million to reward teachers based on their effectiveness and their SAT or ACT test scores. The Legislature is expected to vote on the budget Friday. Miami Herald. Politico Florida. Earlier in the legislative session, the teacher bonuses bill was passed by a single vote in the Senate Pre-K Education Committee. Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, was that vote. She’s an opponent of the plan, calling it the “worst and dumbest,” but says she voted for it just to get out out of the committee for a larger debate. Miami Herald.

Education bill: The Senate’s sweeping education bill would allow open enrollment, permit athletes to transfer and play immediately, punish school district that overspend on construction, and much more. If the Senate passes it, the bill kicks back to the House. Here’s a guide to what’s in the bill. Politico Florida.

Education on trial: A lawsuit alleging Florida has failed its constitutional mandate to provide high-quality public education goes to trial Monday in Tallahassee. Citizens for Strong Schools contends the state has has not provided a uniform system of free public schools because it fails poor and minority students. The Department of Education says even if some inequities do exist, they are not caused by the state and cannot be fixed by the state. The nonjury trial is expected to last about five weeks. FloridaBulldog.org.

SAT feedback: A College Board survey of students who have already taken the new SAT test shows they prefer it by a 6-to-1 margin over the old version. More than 70 percent say the test reflects what they’ve learned in school. Students will get their results in mid-May. Palm Beach Post.

Graduation option: Bay County students with low grade-point averages who struggle to complete standardized tests now have a path to graduation. The school district is partnering with Giant Campus of Seattle to offer online courses to earn an accredited diploma. Panama City News Herald.

School donation: The Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet dealership in Tallahassee makes a $50,000 donation to the Leon County School District. The gift is intended to help underserved students living in emergency shelters or temporary housing. Tallahassee Democrat.

Computer coding: While the Legislature talks about allowing computer coding to satisfy a foreign language requirement, the vice chairman of the Florida Board of Education is doing something about improving computer science knowledge now. John Padget pays students in Monroe County to take computer classes. WUSF.

Employee honored: Glorene Jacobs has been named Palm Beach County’s school-based employee of the year. She’s an administrative assistant at Coral Reef Elementary in Lake Worth. Palm Beach Post. Sun Sentinel.

Contract negotiations: Lee County teachers overwhelmingly approve a contract with the school district. The school board will now vote on the agreement. Fort Myers News-Press. The Clay County School Board will consider a special magistrate’s nonbinding recommendation on ending the contract negotiations impasse with teachers. Florida Times-Union.

School may close: The Manatee County School Board will vote on closing Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary School. It’s the first step in making decisions about what to do with old and struggling schools and their students. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Old cheese served: The cafeteria manager at Eustis Heights Elementary School retires after serving students mozzarella cheese that was nearly three years old. Orlando Sentinel.

Weapons at school: A 16-year-old student is arrested for bring a knife to South Lake High School in Groveland. It’s the third time in the past eight school days a Lake County student has been arrested for having a weapon at school. Daily Commercial.

Opinions on schools: Public schools are blaming charter schools because they can’t stop overspending on construction. How does this make sense? State Rep. Erik Fresen, Miami Herald.

Student enrichment: Students from the Rowlett Academy for Arts and Communication K-Kids Club donate $10,738.82 to the Payton Wright Foundation. The foundation financially assists families with children who have brain cancer. Bradenton Herald. Manatee County middle and high school students won more trophies and earned more top-10 finishes than any other school district in Florida at the 38th Technology Student Association State Conference in Orlando. Bradenton Herald. Lincoln Middle School students win a regional competition in the 2016 National Science Bowl and advance to the National Finals in Washington, D.C., in April. Gainesville Sun.

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