Florida schools roundup: Early degrees, tweeting, job security, charters and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

florida-roundup-logoEarly degrees: About eight Florida Atlantic University High School students finish high school with a bachelor’s degree each year. The Boca Raton school is believed to be the only one in the United States where students can earn a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree at the same time. Associated Press.

Tweet trouble: The Miami-Dade Schools Police Department wants to be more active on Twitter. So a half-dozen people in the department were given the account password and encouraged to tweet. Now the department is having to explain why it’s published tweets from Donald Trump criticizing President Obama’s Cuba policies, promoting National Drink Beer Day and wondering if marijuana oil is the female Viagra. Miami Herald.

Teacher job security: Thirty-eight school districts in Florida are finding ways to provide job security for teachers that disappeared when Gov. Rick Scott signed a law eliminating tenure in 2011. Pinellas County plans to join that group this week when teachers vote on a proposal to ensure contract renewal for teachers rated effective or highly effective. Tampa Bay Times.

Anti-charter: The NAACP board approves a resolution calling for a calling for a “moratorium on the proliferation of privately managed charter schools.” The civil rights organization has long been an opponent of charter schools, arguing that they represent a privatization of public education. redefinED.

Graduation rates: U.S. high school graduation rates hit a record 83.2 percent in the 2014-2015 school year, according to the White House. Associated Press.

Protecting students: A Miami group, Together for Children, has identified 2,000 students in Miami-Dade County who are at a high risk of of becoming the victims or perpetrators of gun violence. Now it has to figure out ways to save them. Miami Herald.
Harassment accusations: Three women are pressing their accusations of sexual harassment against Todd Bowden, executive director of Career, Technical and Adult Education for Sarasota County schools and a finalist for the superintendent’s job. Bowden has denied the accusations. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Letter grades: Some educators in the Leon County School System are pushing to end letter grades for students in kindergarten and first grade. All four school superintendent candidates say the district should reconsider the policy that began four years ago. Tallahassee Democrat.

Building problems: Debt, the recession and dwindling revenues from the state have left many older Palm Beach County schools behind in repairs. Palm Beach Post.

Helping the displaced: More than 100 St. Johns County families were displaced by Hurricane Matthew, and the school district is pitching in to help them by collecting supplies. St. Augustine Record.

Burning energy: A middle school math teacher in Raleigh, N.C., installs bike pedals under every desk in her classroom, and says the result is less fidgeting, less disruption and better academic performance. WRAL.

Teacher shortage: School board members Linda Kobert (Orange County) and Linda Cuthbert (Volusia County) talk about the teacher shortage and what their districts are doing to recruit and retain teachers. WMFE.

District cutbacks: As the Hillsborough County School District tries to cut $130 million out of its budget, officials are putting together a consistent communications plan that emphasizes that students come first. Gradebook.

School comeback: A Daytona Beach middle school works on improvement after four straight D grades and the departure of 139 students under the Florida Opportunity Scholarship Program. Campbell Middle School officials say a lack of resources is the main reason for the school’s decline. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

School meals: In the past 20 months, the number of Palm Beach County students receiving free or reduced-cost school meals has gone up by 11.2 percent, according to the Palm Beach County Food Bank. Palm Beach Post.

Pledge of Allegiance: Okeechobee County School Board members discuss a change in district policy to conform to state law on students standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Okeechobee News.

More clown threats: Schools across south Florida are being hit with creepy clown threats on social media, mostly hoaxes, that are frightening children and straining resources of law enforcement agencies. Sun-Sentinel.

Superintendent’s evaluation: The Monroe County School Board agrees to discuss its 2015 evaluation of Superintendent Mark Porter at its Oct. 25 meeting. Board member Ed Davidson accused Porter of deliberately concealing the evaluation during the election campaign. Davidson lost his re-election campaign in the Aug. 30 primary. Keynoter.

Contract negotiations: School bus drivers in Santa Rosa County reach agreement with the Durham School Bus Service, which handles school busing for the district. Drivers will get an average 20 percent pay raise, a bonus, four more paid holidays and 75 percent coverage for health insurance. Pensacola News Journal. Negotiations between teachers and the Citrus County School District are scheduled to begin this month. Citrus County Chronicle.

School rezonings: A Pasco County School District rezoning committee recommends new elementary school boundaries in the Odessa-Land O’Lakes area. Gradebook. More than 500 Palm Beach County students would be affected under a rezoning proposal to cut overcrowding at Calusa Elementary School in Boca Raton. Palm Beach Post.

Community meetings: Polk County school principals are holding “state of school” community meetings this month and next. Lakeland Ledger.

School elections: The Lee County School Board expands from five to seven members in November. But no minority candidates are in the running, so the board – all white for 129 years – will remain so. And four of the six candidates for the three open seats are incumbents or previous board members. Fort Myers News-Press. Manatee County voters will decide Nov. 8 on a half-cent hike in the sales tax for schools. Here’s a Q&A on the issue. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Missing money: More than $3,500 went missing from Pierce Hammock Elementary School in Palm Beach County over the summer. The district’s police department investigated, but no arrests have been made. Palm Beach Post.

School bus crash: A 63-year-old motorcyclist is killed when a school bus pulls out in front of him in Sanford. Nineteen students were on the bus when it hit Dewey Nelson. Grief counselors are at the school to help the students, and the bus driver is on desk duty during the investigation. WESH.

Opinions on schools: Hillsborough County school officials need to reform many outdated business practices and better use many resources  to deal with the district’s financial crisis. Tampa Bay Times. Whether you’re a boss or a parent, respect is best earned through education, appreciation and support. Berney Wilkinson, Lakeland Ledger. It’s clear that the penny increase in the sales tax will help pay for a wealth of long-delayed improvements to our school system and community. Palm Beach Post. The state’s new lottery expansion is a failure for the state’s residents and the public education system. Citrus County Chronicle. Educators who have had an early influence on children deserve our admiration. Ernest Hooper, Tampa Bay Times. Filling out a FAFSA is the gateway for accessing a range of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study programs that minimize the price of college. Ray Larsen, Orlando Sentinel. Is this list of finalists for Sarasota County school superintendent the best an A-rated school district can do? Tom Tryon, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. How, you might ask, can the leader of the below-average Lake County School District earn an exceptional rating and a raise in a year that the district actually stepped backward? Daily Commercial. The campaign for Leon County school superintendent should have been about equity and excellence, especially in STEM subjects. Instead it’s turned into a spectacle of mendacity, meanness and mediocrity. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.

Student enrichment: A new agriscience foundations class gives Parrott Middle School students experience in dealing with animals, gardens and tools. Tampa Bay Times. Health academy students at Anclote High School help health-care professionals with screenings of younger students. Tampa Bay Times.

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