Florida schools roundup: Merit pay, education funding, club policy and more

Merit pay study: A study nationally and in Orange County concludes that tying teacher pay to students’ performance on standardized testing has not produced the results expected. The study, shared with the Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition, indicates there has been no “significant or stable improvements” in student achievement since Florida adopted a merit pay law in 2006. Orange County School Board members say they will share the study with Florida legislators. Orlando Sentinel.

Education funding: Two influential Democratic state representatives say they are encouraged by House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s weekend pledge to boost education spending for the 2017-2018 school year. State Reps. Larry Lee Jr., D-Port St. Lucie, and Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, said in a statement: “Now that the speaker has made this commitment, we are hopeful that our committees will move away from looking at ways to cut education funding and instead begin to focus on giving our hardworking teachers a raise, and increasing per-pupil funding to actually historic levels that take into account inflation.” Sunshine State News. Florida Politics.

Club policy: The Lake County School Board will consider a proposed policy change that would allow a Gay-Straight Alliance at Carver Middle School in Leesburg. The district proposed the change after a federal appeals court ruled that denying the group’s application for the club was a violation of the Equal Access Act. Several school board members say they support the change, as long as students get parental consent. Daily Commercial.

Contract negotiations: The Santa Rosa County teachers union will take its contract dispute to a magistrate. The teachers want an average 2.77 percent raise, while the school district is offering 1.8 percent. Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick filed notice of an impasse with the state’s Public Employees Relations Commission, and gave the union the option of asking for a magistrate or going directly to the school board for a binding decision. Pensacola News Journal.

School changes: Parents at the Roosevelt Academy Middle School in Lake Wales are questioning why the Polk County School District is considering closing the middle school and integrating its special-needs students. District officials say the changes were requested by the Florida Department of Education. The department says the decision rests with the district. A board vote on the school’s future is expected in April. Lakeland Ledger.

New school: The Clay County School Board decides to proceed in building a new elementary school in the Oakleaf area of the county. Elementary School Y would cost $20.8 million and serve about 886 PreK-6 students. Florida Times-Union.

Future of schools: The Brevard County School Board will decide tonight if South Lake Elementary School in Titusville will be reopened as a choice school in the 2018-2019 school year. South Lake was closed in 2013 due to declining enrollment. If the board approves this plan, the district will spend about $1 million to renovate it. Florida Today. The school board also is considering leasing some property near Viera High School to the Space Coast State Fair on an annual basis while the district decides if it wants to build a middle school at the site. Florida Today.

Personnel changes: George Lockhart has been removed as principal of Lake Worth High School, two months after the Palm Beach County School District announced he was being reassigned pending an investigation over the way discipline matters were handled at the school. Elvis Epps has been named the interim principal. Palm Beach Post.

ID protection: The Manatee County School District says it is providing identity protection services to retirees and former employees as well as the 7,700 current employees whose W-2 information was mistakenly released to hackers. Bradenton Herald.

Superintendent tour: Diane Kornegay, who takes over as Lake County school superintendent March 11, tours East Ridge High School in Clermont as part of a process to get her acquainted with schools, principals and teachers. Daily Commercial.

Seeing fake news: Teachers in elementary schools and up are increasingly teaching their students how to distinguish real news from fake news, and why doing so matters. Associated Press.

Teacher sues district: A Duval County teacher is suing the school district, alleging that it is withholding public records that he has requested. District officials say they need more time to review the 1,900 pages requested by Christopher Guerrieri, who has tangled with his bosses over critical blog posts he has made criticizing school board member Cheryl Grymes. Florida Times-Union.

No charges for teacher: A Lyman High School teacher who put a misbehaving student into a headlock and dragged him down stairs will not be charged with a crime, say Orange County prosecutors. Wilbert “Wil” Delacruz, 38, remains on paid leave while Seminole County school officials investigate. Orlando Sentinel.

Overcrowded bus: Duval parents are complaining after a video shows students sitting in the aisle of a bus taking students home from Baldwin Middle-Senior High School. Students said they had to sit on the floor and on each other’s laps. The district says the bus has a capacity of 65 passengers and was carrying 64. WJAX.

Students stay away: More than 2,500 Lake Mary High School students stayed home Monday after a threat was found on a bathroom wall at the school warning of a shooting. School official say the threat was not credible, but police are investigating. Orlando Sentinel.

Students hit: A 14-year-old Hillsborough High School student is hit by a van while walking to school Monday morning. Her injuries were not considered life-threatening. Deputies say she walked into the path of the van. Tampa Bay Times. A 10-year-old student from Shaw Elementary School was hit by a motorcycle as he got off his bus. Deputies say the motorcyclist was driving on the sidewalk. The boy was not seriously injured. Tampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools: By talking with teachers and others who must hand out discipline at school, a review of our current practice of eliminating suspensions and alternative to suspension programs will serve to improve our overall policy, approach and effectiveness in addressing and improving student behavior and discipline. Steve Gallon III, Miami Herald. More training is needed after a Manatee County School District employee inexplicably handed over W-2 information to hackers. Bradenton Herald. A report by ProPublica misses the one simple premise behind Accelerated Learning Solutions’ Sunshine High School charter in Orlando: giving students who face academic failure the individual, expert and specialized attention they need, so they can actually succeed. Peter Schorsch, Florida Politics. There are limits to people’s willingness to be a piñata for paltry pay and no respect. Teachers could be forgiven if they decide to home-school their own kids and leave the rest of us to fend for ourselves. Florence Snyder, Florida Politics. If you want high quality teachers, just start treating us with respect and let us use our skills to improve our schools alongside our all-important administrators and support staff. Mary Bahr, Bridge to Tomorrow.

Student enrichment: Schools in Pinellas County are holding game nights to help students learn math skills with diagrams and pictures instead of just with language. WUSF. Eastside Elementary School in Brooksville develops an after-school music program to “round out” students’ education. Tampa Bay Times. The 10th annual Take Stock in Children Prayer Breakfast raises more than $200,000 in sponsorships and matched donations. The group provides four-year college scholarships and mentoring to needy students. Bradenton Herald. High school seniors from Sarasota and Manatee counties win awards in writing, visual arts and music from the National League of American Pen Women Sarasota Branch. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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