Florida schools roundup: Teacher prep ratings, appeal, freeze effects and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

florida-roundup-logoTeacher prep rules: The U.S. Education Department issues guidelines for states to rate colleges’ teacher preparation programs on an annual basis. The ratings would track teachers after graduation and show how they perform, which is intended to help aspiring teachers decide on which college to attend and to improve the colleges’ programs. The states will rate the programs as effective, at-risk, or low-performing. Washington Post. Education Week.

Scholarships appeal: The groups challenging Florida’s public education adequacy continue to focus on school choice, and are targeting the state’s McKay scholarship program for children with special needs in their appeal. The program helps 30,000 Florida children with special needs pay private school tuition. The groups call the program unconstitutional. redefinED.

Hiring freeze: A hiring freeze that is requiring reshuffling of some educators back into empty classrooms will affect success coaches hired by the Hillsborough County School District to work closely with at-risk students, according to a district memo sent to employees. Gradebook.

Contract negotiations: The proposed contract between Pinellas teachers and the school district includes a guarantee of renewal for teachers on annual contracts who are judged to be effective or highly effective. Gradebook.

Charter school: Pasco County school officials are recommending approval for a proposed charter high school that would focus on at-risk students. If it’s approved by the school board, Pasco MYcroSchool would open in 2017 with about 250 students. Gradebook.

School name objection: The mayor of Windermere lodges a complaint about the Orange County School Board deciding to name a new school Windermere High School. “Why? It is not in Windermere,” Mayor Gary Bruhn wrote on Facebook. Orlando Sentinel.

Teachers union: Calhoun County teachers vote to unionize, joining the National Education Association. It’s the last of Florida’s 67 districts to vote for union representation. People’s World.

Makeup days: Manatee County students will attend school Oct. 24 to make up a day lost to Hurricane Matthew. WTVT.  Palm Beach County students will not have to make up the two days schools were closed when Hurricane Matthew swept up the east coast. Palm Beach Post.

Superintendent search: The three finalists to replace retiring Sarasota County School Superintendent Lori White are quizzed by school board members in separate interviews. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Bus stop abduction: A 13-year-old girl was abducted from her school bus stop in West Palm Beach and raped in May. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department recently found Pascual Efrain Perez-Perez, 20, working in Tampa and arrested him. Sun-Sentinel. Palm Beach Post.

Teacher resigns: Christina Villaverde, a first-year chorus teacher at Avalon Middle School in Milton, resigns after being accused of taping the mouth and wrists of a student. The student did not file a complaint, but a photo of the student was posted on social media and school officials intervened. Pensacola News Journal.

Students arrested: Two 14-year-old boys are arrested and accused of making threats against teachers and students at Raymond B. Stewart Middle School. The threats, which included a reference to “Sprinkles the clown,” were meant as a joke, the boys told authorities. Tampa Bay TimesWFLA. An 11-year-old boy is arrested after spitting on an Okaloosa Academy administrator during a classroom tantrum. Northwest Florida Daily News.

School burglarized: West Broward High School is burglarized by a man who stole several video cameras, but not the ones showing him walking through the hallways. Sun-Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: A special property tax for Pinellas County public schools has paid dividends in classrooms since it was first approved in 2004. The modest tax enhances arts programs, helps retain teachers and outfits schools with new technology while being a bargain for taxpayers. The program is up for renewal, and voters should approve it for another four years. Tampa Bay Times. The Manatee County School District has built safeguards into the referendum language requesting the continuation of the current half-cent sales tax, set to expire in 2017, and we encourage a yes vote. Bradenton Herald. Despite the Sarasota County School District’s A rating and abundant resources and Sarasota County’s appealing quality of life, the search for Superintendent Lori White’s successor did not attract any candidate with the credentials, experiences and charisma to blow away the field. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Student enrichment: Pasco County’s Anclote High and Paul R. Smith Middle, which share a campus in Holiday, plan to adopt the rigorous Cambridge Program. Gradebook. Tampa Electric Co. donates 10 hydroponic vertical growing units to the agriculture department at Mulberry Middle School. The units will grow lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries. Lakeland Ledger. Buck Lake Elementary School celebrates books at the annual Caldecott Carnival. Tallahassee Democrat. Heritage Middle School students collect clothes to sell and raise money for two school programs. Daytona Beach News-Journal. The Citrus County School District is awarded the Florida Healthy District Award for promoting health and wellness for students and staff. Citrus County Chronicle.

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