Florida schools roundup: Recognition money, safety, suicide risk and more

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florida-roundup-logoRecognition money: School recognition money will be delivered to school districts by the state today, according to Department of Education officials. Schools will get $97.04 per full-time equivalent student. Most of the schools distribute the money as a bonus to teachers and other school employees. Here’s the list of how much each school is getting. Gradebook.

School safety: Lake County school officials say recent fights at Leesburg High School are isolated events, and that the school performs well and has disciplined students. Students and community leaders don’t agree, and a community meeting is set Thursday to discuss the issue. Daily Commercial. Thousands of Okaloosa County school students stayed home Monday after last week’s email threat to “kidnap or murder a child” at a Niceville area school. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Suicidal students: A Duval County survey indicates 27 percent of middle school students and 19.7 percent of high school students have seriously considered suicide. The 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey was issued to students at every Duval County middle and high school. “It’s horrifying for me to see that data,” says Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. “If you’re talking about suicide, thinking about suicide at that age, think about the depth of sadness and depression that those children are dealing with.” Florida Times-Union.

Testing concerns: A group of parents and teachers are angry at the Polk County School District’s response to their concerns about standardized testing. “They’re refusing to acknowledge that there are any problems,” says Wendy Bradshaw, one of the founders of Citizens for Better Educational Leadership. “It speaks to a lack of professional respect for teachers who are bringing up their problems.” Lakeland Ledger.

Board seat: Gov. Rick Scott is accepting applications to replace Mike Murgio on the Palm Beach County School Board. Murgio resigned last week after being indicted on federal bribery charges. Palm Beach Post.

LGBT meeting: The Brevard County School Board is holding a meeting Wednesday about its non-discrimination policy. The board has been criticized for failing to add lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as a protected class in its policy. Florida Today.

Superintendent searches: The Lake County School Board meets Monday to set up the process to choose Superintendent Susan Moxley’s successor. Moxley’s contract expires June 30, 2017. Board policy includes the formation of a 19-member committee, selecting a recruiting firm and holding three town hall meetings to get input from the community public. Orlando Sentinel. The Sarasota County School Board will hold four public forums to hear comments from the community about the search to replace retiring Superintendent Lori White. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Superintendent race: Fred S. Gottshalk, a friend of Clay County School Superintendent Charlie Van Zant Jr., files to run against him as a write-in candidate. Critics say this is a Van Sant strategy to close the Republican primary so Democrats and independents can’t vote. Van Sant says he hasn’t talked to Gottshalk or any of the other candidates about why they are running. Florida Times-Union.

Religion in schools: Idlewild Baptist Church says it will help the Hillsborough County School District in any way it can. The church’s previously held motivational sessions for school administrators, and critics complained the sessions gave the church too much influence in the schools. Gradebook.

Union election: The Orange County Classroom Teachers Association will have its first election since the previous president was removed by the national organization. Diana Moore was removed by the American Federation of Teachers for allegedly defying rules and ignoring members’ rights. The vote is next week. Orlando Sentinel.

Contract negotiations: Volusia County school officials are balking at a special magistrate’s recommendation to give teachers a raise this year and postpone health insurance negotiations. The district says it cannot afford the raises without reducing insurance costs. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Teacher honored: After 46 years as a teacher at Miami Springs High School, Hayward Randolph is retiring. Randolph, 69, taught social studies, world history and American government. River Cities Gazette.

Parental field trip: In an effort to boost parental involvement in the school, Plantation Elementary School sponsors a field trip for parents only to the Young at Art museum. Sun-Sentinel.

New charter CEO: Larry Bolinger is named CEO of Bay Haven Charter Academy Inc. Bolinger has been interim CEO since Dr. Tim Kitts resigned last month. The school has had retention problems with both students and faculty. Panama City News Herald.

Notable deaths: Mike Livings, a longtime assistant principal, dean and assistant football coach in Vero Beach, has died. Livings, 57, had the rare Erdheim-Chester disease, which caused kidney failure. TCPalm.

Rename championships: The Florida High School Athletics Association is soliciting entries for a contest to rename the state’s high school football championship. The previous campaign was “Road to Orlando.” You can vote here. FHSAA.

Principal back at work: Nolan Middle School principal Scot Boice returns to work after the Manatee County School District concludes an “administrative review.” The district would not say what prompted the review. Bradenton Herald.

Teacher/candidate: A Collier County elementary school teacher now running for a Florida House seat was suspended in 2011 for talking to a student online and then lying about it to his supervisors. Victor Dotres says the conversation was prompted by the student’s request for help against cyberbullying. Naples Daily News.

Teacher cleared: An administrative law judge rules that a Broward County teacher was wrongly suspended for failing to meet the needs of students. Elaine Jaffe, a teacher at Coral Springs High, received two five-day suspensions following two school district investigations. The judge’s recommendation is non-binding, and the school district is still reviewing the case. Sun-Sentinel.

Charges refuted: A Zephyrhills Police Department investigation clears Sgt. Reggie Roberts of wrongdoing during his time as the head football coach at Zephyrhills High School. Roberts was removed from the coaching job after school officials accused him of illegally recording meetings with administrators and using his position to intimidate staff members. Gradebook.

Administrators on leave: Two Highlands County school administrators have been put on leave in the wake of a sex scandal at Hill-Gustat Middle School. Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton says teachers and students were aware of the crimes, but nobody bothered to call the sheriff’s office. Stacy Hooks, 38, a former science teacher at the school, is accused of having sex with a 13-year-old boy. WFLA.

Opinions on schools: Learning algebra is a way to encourage children to productively struggle through difficult ideas. Laura Kingsley, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Here are five ways to improve outcomes in our schools. Dave Denslow, Gainesville Sun.

Student enrichment: Students from Manatee County win the Division I 2016 Florida Commissioner’s Academic Challenge. Teams from 38 counties competed in a series of challenges in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, fine arts, world languages, physical education, health and technology. Teams were rewarded for speed and accuracy. Bradenton Herald. The Academy of Justice at Newberry High School is named Florida’s top chapter at the Florida Public Service Association State Leadership Conference. Gainesville Sun. The Alachua County School District is one of 15 U.S. school districts to win a U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools District Sustainability Awards. Gainesville Sun.