Florida roundup: Schools of hope, special needs scholarships and more

Travis Pillow

Legislation. Senate President Joe Negron says education funding is among the most difficult spending issues lawmakers will try to resolve this session. Tallahassee Democrat. Budget talks between the House and Senate appear to be at an impasse. The Buzz.

Schools of Hope. Florida House members say attracting charter school operators remains an important part of their plan to transform persistently struggling schools. redefinED. Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano blasts the plan as a “gimmick.” District officials criticize it. Pensacola News-Journal. Activists decry an alleged conspiracy. Tallahassee Democrat.

Failure factories. A principal at a struggling Pinellas County school is caught saying by email that white students should be grouped in classes together, then fails to provide a complete explanation. Tampa Bay Times.

Superintendents. A Duval school board member wants to try to keep district schools chief Nikolai Vitti around. Florida Times-Union. Vitti was hired to make changes. Were they enough? Times-Union. A legal battle over transparency stalls his talks for a new job in Detroit. Detroit Free Press.

McKay scrutiny. Orlando Sentinel columnist Lauren Ritchie argues there’s a lack of oversight in Florida’s McKay scholarship program, which provides vouchers to children with special needs.

Charter school conversion. The Polk County Schol Board is set to discuss a plan in which the Lake Wales charter school system would take over a struggling middle school. Lakeland Ledger.

Excellence. The Tampa Bay Times profiles an award-winning science student who learns at home and takes classes through Florida Virtual School.

Special needs. A University of North Florida program allows children with intellectual disabilities to work toward a college diploma. Florida Times-Union.  Manatee district officials grapple with an influx of pre-K students with special needs. Bradenton Herald.

Teacher prep. Two Central Florida districts team up to help teachers get ready for the classroom. Orlando Sentinel. Florida State University President John Thrasher talks STEM education, and about the importance of attracting teachers in those fields. Tallahassee Democrat.

Labor talks. Broward teachers seek a 5.5 percent raise. South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The Pasco teachers union may be closer to a deal on contract terms with district officials. Gradebook.

Fundraising. Alumni rally around a Hillsborough County high school. Tampa Bay Times.

Recognized. A cafeteria manager receives accolades despite falling short of statewide School Employee of the Year. Florida Today. A Pinellas food service worker takes the overall honor. Gradebook. A Pinellas administrator is a Principal of the Year finalist. Gradebook.

Early learning. A Miami Herald photo series highlights early childhood education.

Reading instruction. Volusia prepares a new approach in middle school. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Administrative shakeup. Marion County’s new superintendent makes principal changes at nearly two dozen schools. Ocala Star-Banner.

Sick building. A decade later, investigators still seek answers on a Manatee County school alleged to have caused birth defects, cancer cases and other health problems in students and faculty. Bradenton Herald.

Teachers unions. The Brevard organization prepares to elect a new leader. Florida Today. Teachers unions lead the fight against a House bill. St. Augustine Record.

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