Florida schools roundup: Financial literacy, religion, start times and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

florida-roundup-logoFinancial literacy: Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, files a bill that would require students to take a half-credit course of financial literacy in order to graduate from Florida high schools. She’s been trying to get this bill passed since 2014. Hukill is the new chairwoman of the Senate Education policy committee. Gradebook.

Religion in schools: State Rep. Kim Daniels, D-Jacksonville, files a bill that would prohibit school districts “from discriminating against students, parents, and school personnel on basis of religious viewpoints or expression,” would require a school district to “treat a student’s voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint on an otherwise permissible subject in the same manner that the school district treats a student’s voluntary expression of a secular viewpoint” and would allow students to wear clothing, jewelry or accessories with a religious message. Florida Politics.

DeVos protest: Teachers in several areas of Florida join a national protest against Betsy DeVos, the nominee to become U.S. secretary of education, and for public schools. Similar rallies were held in at least 25 states. Protesters worry that DeVos will emphasize school choice, and especially charter schools, at the expense of public schools. WKMG. Miami Herald. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

School start times: Start high school later in the day, says a majority of the 30,000 people in Orange County who took a district survey. Students, their parents, employees and others were asked to choose from three options: keep start times the same, start 20 minutes later than the current times that range from 7:10 to 7:30 a.m., and start no earlier than 8 a.m. School board members, who caution that changing schedules is complicated, will discuss the survey Thursday. Orlando Sentinel.

School rezoning: The Palm Beach County School Board tentatively approves a rezoning plan to ease overcrowding at Calusa Elementary in Boca Raton. There was one change; residents of the Casa Bella neighborhood convinced board members to remove them from the areas to be rezoned. The final vote is scheduled Feb. 22. Palm Beach Post. Ten zoning changes have been made for 13 Bay County schools, starting in August and affecting about 100 students. Panama City News Herald.

Teacher bonuses: Teachers in Clay and St. Johns counties got bonuses from the state at a rate five times higher than teachers in Duval. In St. Johns, 8.8 percent of teachers received the $6,817 bonus. In Clay it was 8.5 percent, and in Duval 1.7 percent. The bonus program has been criticized for its reliance on college entrance exam scores. WJAX.

Employees honored: Theresa Ryan, a third grade teacher at Citrus Springs Elementary School, is named Citrus County teacher of the year. Christina Barfield, from Crystal River Primary, is named school-related employee of the year. Citrus County Schools.

Cyber students: Sandalwood High School students are getting the opportunity to squeeze four years of high school into two, then take college courses with an emphasis on cyber security. The program is a joint project among the Duval County School District, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Deutsche Bank and the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA). The program gives students an associate’s degree in science and industry certification when they graduate high school, and a leg up in applying for jobs at JEA and Deutsche Bank. Florida Times-Union. WJAX.

School turmoil: Two months after a Lake Worth High School student’s attack on an assistant principal, the school still has no principal, teachers are still being questioned and many are still wondering why the assistant principal was transferred to an alternative school. The Palm Beach County School District has not commented on the events, saying the investigation is ongoing. Palm Beach Post.

Graduation rates: Jefferson High School’s graduation rate has climbed from 42.6 percent in 2012-2013 to 70 percent in 2016-2016, according to the Florida Department of Education. ECB Publishing. Jefferson remains a struggling school district, with dwindling enrollment, finances and the lowest student achievement in the state. redefinED.

Problem with papers: A former Manatee High School football coach says the former Manatee superintendent he’s suing is evading process servers. A court granted Joseph Kinnan a 120-day extension to serve the paperwork to Rick Mills. Kinnan and his wife Linda are suing Mills, the school board and a former investigator for defamation. Bradenton Herald.

New school plans: When it opens in 2018, Bonita Springs High School will offer a collegiate program leading to an associate’s degree by high school graduation, an aerospace academy tied to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a nursing assistance program, an HVAC academy, a sustainable agriculture academy and an academy for prospective teachers. Naples Daily News.

Dual-language classes: The Duval County School District is pushing for more non-Hispanic students to get into its dual-language program. Teaching in the program is done in both English and Spanish at three elementary schools and one middle school. WJCT.

Notable deaths: Bernie Shulman, longtime educator in the Palm Beach County School District and interim superintendent for a year and a half in the mid-1990s, has died at the age of 91. Palm Beach Post. Sun-Sentinel.

Teacher arrested: A former Tavares High School teacher is arrested and accused of sexually molesting a student in November. Deputies say Brian Andrew Wall, 30, who taught English and coached track and cross country, inappropriately touched a 16-year-old girl and offered better grades in exchange for hugs. He resigned Tuesday. Orlando Sentinel. Daily Commercial.

Teachers face discipline: The Education Practices Commission is meeting to determine what discipline to impose on teachers accused of bad acts. Sixteen of the cases are from Duval County, the most from any county in the state. Offenses range from murder to marijuana possession. The commission will announce decisions within a month. Florida Times-Union.

Student killed: Grief counselors are available for students after a Heritage High School junior was struck by a car and killed. Jasmine Monari, 17, was walking across the street carrying a skateboard around 3 p.m. Wednesday in Palm Bay when she was hit. Police are investigating. Florida Today.

Sidewalk sought: Parents are lobbying for a crosswalk to be installed across a busy street between Oasis elementary and middle schools in Cape Coral. Lehigh Acres Citizen.

School threat: For the second straight day, Astronaut High School students are evacuated after threats are made against the Titusville school. Florida Today. WKMG.

Bus accident mistrial: A mistrial is declared in the trial of a woman accused of DUI manslaughter. Sarah Walker’s car hit a school bus carrying the Florida High track team in 2014. The driver of the bus, William Fowler, was killed. Tallahassee Democrat.

Opinions on schools: In order to continue to meet our community’s desires to offer bilingual programs that set up our students for success, Florida must create a plan to meet the growing demand for high-quality teachers in our blossoming preK-12 dual-language programs. Christine Dahnke, Orlando Sentinel.

Student enrichment: Thirty students from Boyd Anderson High School’s health and wellness program get a hands-on lesson on the anatomy of a pig’s heart from experts at the Florida Medical Center. Sun-Sentinel. For the past 10 years, “Grandma” Jean O’Brien, 93, has mentored students from the De La Salle Academy in Fort Myers. Fort Myers News-Press. More than 50 Collier County elementary school teachers attend a seminar that helps them teach about the children’s book character Curious George in science, language arts, history and art classes. Naples Daily News.

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