Florida schools roundup: Education bill, superintendent contracts and more

Education bill: State Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami, appears before the Florida Board of Education to promote the education bill passed by the Legislature, saying legislators were trying to find ways to “consistently close the achievement gap” and “erase the negative effects of poverty.” Board member Andy Tuck pointed out that 18 counties, including some of the poorest in the state, will receive less money for education next year than they got this year. Gradebook. Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, also appearing at the state board meeting, says he, his school board and the state superintendents association are”vehemently, strongly … advocating for a veto of HB 7069.” Politico Florida. redefinED. The Florida School Board Association, which represents 64 of the state’s 67 school boards, is the latest organization to urge Gov. Rick Scott to veto the Legislature’s education bill. In a letter to Scott, the association calls the bill “substantially flawed and unworthy of your approval to be enacted into law.” Miami Herald. News Service of FloridaFlorida Politics. Associated Press. WMNF. More local school leaders urge a veto of the education bill. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Citrus County Chronicle.

Philosophical fight: Whether Gov. Scott vetoes the education bill or not, the philosophical battle over who control the state’s public schools is likely to continue. redefinED.

Eakins declines raise: Hillsborough County School Superintendent Jeff Eakins turns down a proposed 3 percent raise from the school board, which extended his contract by three years. He will get a $2,000 bonus on top of his $225,000 salary if the district’s graduation rate improves. “My bonus is going to be when every student, every teacher, every employee becomes successful,” Eakins told the board. Tampa Bay Times.

New superintendents: In a 4-1 vote, the Alachua County School Board selects deputy superintendent Karen Clarke as the new school superintendent. Clarke has been with the district since 1992. Contract negotiations begin today, with an advertised contract range between $160,000 and $180,000. Gainesville Sun. The Flagler County School Board approves a three-year contract at $135,000 a year for new superintendent James Tager. Flagler Live.

Financial problems: The Pasco County School District is in line to get $11.7 million more from the state next year, but Superintendent Kurt Browning says increases in employee retirement benefit funding, insurance benefits, new schools and growing charter school enrollment put the district in the red by more than $8 million. The district will consider cuts in athletics, extended day and year programs, furlough days, school closings and job freezes to shrink the gap. Gradebook. The Polk County School District is projecting a $5.6 million shortfall under the new budget, and will consider letting the reserve fund drop below its current 5 percent. Lakeland Ledger.

Appointed or elected? Martin County voters will decide in November 2018 if the school superintendent should be elected or appointed. The superintendent is now elected. If voters opt for appointment, the change will be made in 2020. TCPalm.

Teacher testing increases: Costs for the Florida teaching certification exams have increased nearly 800 percent in the past decade, and are among the most expensive of any state in the country. WPTV.

Hairstyle dispute: A 16-year-old Montverde Academy student says the Lake County school asked her to change her hairstyle because it violates the dress code. Nicole Orr describes her hair as “diverse, curly and Afrocentric,” and says that’s just naturally how it is. The school later backed off, with headmaster Kasey Kesselring saying the line about dreadlocks needs to come out of the policy. WOFL.

Technology update: About 3,500 Marion County students will get new Chromebooks next school year to drop the student-to-computer ratio to 1.55-to-1, an improvement from 1.79-to-1 for the current year. And the following year, all county schools will get high-speed, fiber-optic Internet service through the city’s  all the district’s school sites will be equipped with high-speed, fiber-optic internet service thanks to a new contract with the Ocala Fiber Network. Ocala Star Banner.

Graduation memorials: Three Marion County seniors who died this school year will be represented by family members walking in their places during graduation ceremonies. Ocala Star Banner.

Personnel changes: Just a few days before he leaves for a new job, Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti changes principals at 11 schools. Vitti says he made the move to “reduce the burden” on the interim superintendent, who is expected to be chosen today. Florida Times-Union. Three new principals are appointed at Hillsborough County schools. Gradebook.

Suicide series: A Netflix series about teen suicide, 13 Reasons Why, is prompting discussion in Collier County schools. Naples Daily News.

Students injured: A car runs over the foot of an 8-year-old boy at a Brevard County school bus. Police say the driver, Paul Arrington, 24, didn’t stop when a school bus coming in the other direction did and struck the boy, who was taken to a hospital. Arrington was cited for passing a stopped school bus. Florida Today. A 15-year-old Palm Harbor University student is hurt when a truck runs over her foot as she walks to school. Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher sentenced: A 29-year-old teacher caught on camera kissing a 10-year-old student pleads no contest to a battery charge and is put on probation for a year. Brian Kornbluth was a teacher at Somerset Academy in Boca Raton. Palm Beach Post.

Teacher resigns: A Citrus County teacher who was accused of being negligent in monitoring students has resigned. School officials say Amanda Mathieu, an art, music and drama teacher at Lecanto High School, was not paying attention when a boy sexually assaulted a girl in her classroom in January. Citrus County Chronicle.

Weapons and schools: A student at North Park High School, an Opa-locka charter school, is arrested and accused of stabbing another student during a fight in the parking lot. The victim is in stable condition at a hospital. Miami Herald. A Pasco County high school student is arrested after allegedly making online threats to making shoot up his school unless Lil Uzi Vert released his new album immediately. Hip Hop Wired. A student’s flip remark on an end-of-the-year survey prompts a search of all students’ backpacks for weapons at the State College of Florida’s Collegiate School. Bradenton Herald.

Bus driver disciplined: A Polk County school bus driver didn’t tell a student he and his two moms are going to hell, according to an investigation of a February incident, but did violate school policy by giving the student religious literature. The driver, Violeta Jacobo, has been disciplined. Lakeland Ledger.

Opinions on schools: Gov. Scott should use his veto power on the proposed budget, because there’s plenty concerning education in the $82.4 billion document to dislike. Palm Beach Post. Vetoing the education bill should be a no-brainer for Gov. Scott. First, it would be good for the state. Next, it would give you the chance to again blast power brokers and their legislative tricks. And, finally, it reminds everyone who is supposed to be in charge. John Romano, Tampa Bay Times. If Gov. Scott wants to remind everyone in the Legislature who has the most stripes on their shoulder, then he has to follow through on his threat to start vetoing major — or all — parts of the $82.4 billion budget presented to him by the House and Senate. Joe Henderson, Florida Politics.

Student enrichment: The American Heritage School’s mock trial team finishes sixth in the national competition. The Plantation school’s team argued its case before the Connecticut Superior Court. South Florida Reporter. Fourteen Tampa Bay area students are chosen as National Merit Scholarship winners. Eleven of them were from Hillsborough County, two from Pinellas and one from Pasco. Gradebook. More than 400 Miami-Dade County students with autism get a prom of their own, with a circus theme. Miami Herald. Students at Kirby-Smith Middle School in Jacksonville write and illustrate books on bullying and other childhood issues. WJAX.

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