Florida schools roundup: Job cuts, nurse shortage, school repairs and more

florida-roundup-logoJob cuts urged: A consultant tells the Hillsborough County School District that it should cut 1,761 jobs over the next five years to save $404 million. More than 1,000 of those job cuts would come from the teaching staff, which the Gibson Consulting Group says is larger than comparably sized districts. The report does not include any cutbacks of administrators. School officials will begin conversations about the report with two labor unions this week. Tampa Bay Times.

School nurse shortage: Florida has just 1,300 school nurses for more than 4,170 public schools. It would need to triple that number to meet recent guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The group says every school should have a nurse. Orlando Sentinel.

Repairs needed: The Palm Beach County School District needs about $1.2 billion to make “critical” building repairs that were put off during the recession, according to a report by the Maintenance and Plant Operations Department. School roofs and windows, classroom lighting and fire alarm systems all reportedly need attention. The study comes as the district is asking voters to raise the county sales tax. Palm Beach PostSun-Sentinel.

Retention fallout: Manatee County School Superintendent Diana Greene says it would be a “massive understatement” to say she was “angry, frustrated and disappointed in the FLDOE’s lack of leadership on this extremely important issue” of retaining third-graders who did not participate in state standardized testing. Greene also released an email she received from the Department of Education when she asked about retention. Gradebook. About 15 parents and students protest against the Sarasota County School District’s promotion policies. Superintendent Lori White says third-graders who refuse to take the Florida Standards Assessments or an alternative test can be promoted if they show mastery of the state’s benchmarks in several other tests. Some districts allow promotion through a student’s portfolio of work. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Charter at risk: St. Johns County School District Superintendent Joe Joyner says First Coast Technical College’s deteriorating financial condition may force the district to terminate the charter school’s contract. St. Augustine Record.

Book challenges: The Pasco County School District is reviewing the way it deals with challenges to books made available to students. Superintendent Kurt Browning does not want an automatic ban of a book district-wide when one school decides it should be removed. Tampa Bay Times.

Notable deaths: Wendell P. Holmes Jr., a pioneer in education and civil rights in Jacksonville, has died at age 94. Florida Times-Union.

FHSAA chief retiring: The executive director and chief executive officer at the Florida High School Athletic Association is retiring Jan. 6. Dr. Roger Dearing has been on the job about eight years. Gainesville Sun.

Foundation director: Janet Kessler is named executive director of the Bay Education Foundation. Panama City News Herald.

Principal investigated: A Seminole County principal is under investigation for allegedly misusing a school-issued credit card. Leon McCants, principal at Teague Middle School in Altamonte Springs, bought gift cards, which is not permitted. Orlando Sentinel.

Firings recommended: An assistant principal at Pahokee Middle/Senior High School is accused of sexually harassing two female students. Palm Beach County Superintendent Robert Avossa has recommended that Oscar Villanueva be fired. Palm Beach Post. Three Palm Beach County school bus drivers may also lose their jobs. One slapped a disabled student, one left a sleeping student on a bus and the third drove away without a student who had injured his leg at the bus stop. Palm Beach Post.

Student badly injured: A 16-year-old Fort Myers High School student is hit by a car while trying to cross a road to get to his school bus. Cameron Mayhew is in critical condition. Fort Myers News-Press.

Students stabbed: Two Raines High School students who were skipping school are stabbed near the school Wednesday by three men. Both students were hospitalized. Florida Times-Union.

Teacher arrested: A teacher and her son are arrested and accused of stealing more than $100,000 from a Martin County teachers union account. Marjorie Garland, 63, who teaches at Hidden Oaks Middle School, had been the treasurer for union. She and her son Jason Garland, 38, had been illegally withdrawing money from the account since 2013, according to deputies. TCPalm.

Teacher fired: A Sebring High School teacher is fired after an investigation into his relationship with a student. Matthew Hutchinson’s relationship with the 17-year-old girl was inappropriate, school officials say. Highlands Today.

Opinions on schools: When every third-grader at two charter schools fail to pass a state reading test, it’s time to review and rethink the entire charter school concept. Roberta Behr Wiener, Palm Beach Post. Wendell P. Holmes Jr.’s life and the role he played in trying to right the wrongs of desegregation is an example of how vision and perseverance can beat back the tides of injustice and inequality. Tonyaa Weathersbee, Florida Times-Union. The Manatee County School Board deserves applause for finally coming around on the misguided coupling of the impact fee structure and the sales tax extension. Bradenton Herald. A recent disturbing report in Southwest Florida about sex in a school restroom seemingly shows parents need to hear how students are being protected in bathrooms period, sexual orientation aside. Naples Daily News. The Legislature should continue to revisit a fundamental question: Should Florida continue to rely so heavily on high-stakes testing? Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Student enrichment: Aaron Willis was paralyzed his freshman year at Booker T. Washington High School when a bullet hit his spine. Wednesday he walked across stage to receive his diploma, powered by bionic legs. Miami Herald. Zayden Hudson, an 11-year-old fifth-grader at Azalea Park Elementary School, receives a good citizenship award from Orlando police for helping a school crossing guard who collapsed. Orlando Sentinel. A Lake County student receives a degree from Lake-Sumter State College before graduating from high school. Alex Torrelli-Diljohn is a senior at East Ridge High School. Orlando Sentinel. Ross Minor was blinded when his father shot him at age 8. But he persevered and is graduating from Bishop Snyder High School. Florida Times-Union. The Parent Teacher Organization at Elbert Elementary School in Winter Haven honors the first class of fifth-graders who took part in a leadership training program. Lakeland Ledger. Elise Figueroa, a 14-year-old student at Ruckel Middle School in Niceville, is selected for the 2016 Middle School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall. Northwest Florida Daily News. Students in the Bay County District Schools’ After School Assistance Program raise $3,000 to start the Christopher Jackson Memorial Scholarship. Jackson was a 2013 Rutherford High School graduate and a diving star. Panama City News Herald.

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