Florida schools roundup: Veto override, special session bickering and more

Education bill: The Florida Senate votes to override Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of the K-12 education bill. Senate Appropriations chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, says the vote is “an insurance policy” to keep schools operating after June 30 in case no agreement can be reached on education spending during the special session. That seems increasingly possible, as Senate and House leaders continue to bicker over details of the bill and other issues. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. News Service of FloridaFlorida Politics. Miami Herald. Associated PressPolitico Florida. Tallahassee Democrat. State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, proposes using $215 million earmarked in H.B. 7069 for teacher bonuses and charter schools to increase funding for public schools. Miami HeraldPolitico Florida. redefinED. School officials in Volusia, Flagler, Lee and Levy counties like some aspects of the education bill, but are urging Gov. Scott to veto it primarily because of the additional money that would go to charter schools. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Fort Myers News-Press. Cedar Key Beacon. Manatee County school officials worry about the education bill’s restrictions on how districts can spend federal Title I money. Bradenton Herald.

Early-release days: Brevard County school officials want to move early-release days from Wednesdays to Fridays. They say the proposal would help students who are dual-enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, which doesn’t hold classes on Fridays. The district and the teachers union must agree on the proposed change. Florida Today. WKMG.

Ex-principal defended: Pinellas County School Board member Linda Lerner defends a principal who made racially charged comments and has since retired. Lerner says Christine Hoffman, formerly the principal at the mostly black Campbell Park Elementary School in St. Petersburg, made a mistake by telling the staff working on student class assignments that the school’s “white students should be in the same class.” Lerner said: “Sometimes white people say something racially insensitive. … One mistake should not ruin a career.” Gradebook.

District warns parents: Clay County school officials are warning parents about an online game that targets children and can lead to injuries. The Blue Whale Challenge presents a 50-day list of tasks that escalates from children cutting themselves to eventually committing suicide. As many as 130 deaths in other countries are linked to the game, according to school officials. WJAX.

Charter school: The Sports Leadership and Management charter school company is approved for a second school in Palm Beach County, just west of Delray Beach. The sports-themed school will open in August with 500 students in grades 6-9, with plans to add another 500 students in 10th, 11th and 12th grades within five years. Palm Beach Post.

School expansion: Blake Christian Academy in Lake Helen wants to expand from a K-2 school to K-8, and is asking the city for permission to build a 5,600-square-foot building on its property. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Physics course growth: Enrollment in Bay County School District high school physics classes has grown from 100 in 2015-2016 to 235 in 2016-2017. Bridge to Tomorrow.

New school buses: For the first time in seven years, the Hernando County School District is buying new school buses. By the end of the month, the district should have three 77-passenger buses, which will cost $317,000. Officials expect the new buses to save as much as $18,000 in repair costs this year. Gradebook.

Pathway dispute: Students from Matanzas High School who want a walking and bike path to school clash with residents of the neighborhood where the path would be created. Students say the pathway is needed to ensure safety for those walking or riding a bike to school. Residents think a sidewalk on Old Kings Road is a better solution. Flagler Live.

Personnel moves: New principals are named at six Indian River County schools. TCPalm. Four Sarasota County schools get new principals. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The Gulf County School Board approves filling 100 positions, instructional and non-instructional, even as it waits on final budget numbers from the state. Port St. Joe Star.

Joint project: Stuart officials are considering locating a new city hall adjacent to the proposed Martin County School District administration building so they can share public meeting space. TCPalm.

Troubled teachers: An Orange County teacher who allegedly sent explicit messages to students is arrested. Scott John Peters, 46, who worked at Lake Nona Middle School, is accused of sending two students videos of himself showering and smoking marijuana. He was placed on paid leave by the district, and his contract will not be renewed after it expires Aug. 4. Orlando Sentinel. Virginia Houston Hinckley, 28, a former St. Augustine High School teacher, is sentenced to six months in jail after pleading no contest to charges that she had sex with a 16-year-old student. Florida Times-Union. WJAX.

Opinions on schools: Charter schools play an important role in our overall education system, but helping them should not come at the expense of public education. Rep. Larry Lee, D-Port St. Lucie, TCPalm. I want the education system to wrap every child in needed and appropriate services, and listen to parents. Stop vilifying charter schools or vouchers for private schools, and the parents who’ve come to depend on them. Instead, make improvements in public schools so we don’t feel the need to leave. Jaymie Perez, redefinED. Next year when the Florida Legislature once again meets for its 60-day session of engaging in less productivity than the Nepalese navy, both Florida Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran will deliver stirring hypocritical speeches pledging pure, open government in the full flower of the sunshine. And then their britches will explode into a volcanic eruption of flames. Daniel Ruth, Tampa Bay Times. “We would not lower standards for reading, writing and arithmetic just because students found them challenging subjects,” said Howell Wechsler, CEO for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “And we should not do it for school nutrition either.” He’s right. Florida Times-Union. Breaking school rules is one thing. Having rules that violate students’ rights to free speech is another. Laurence Reisman, TCPalm. Mark Miller, Sunshine State News. Complexities on funding for education muddle the legislative special session. Ocala Star Banner.

Student enrichment: An anonymous donor gives the Miami-Dade County School District $1 million in the name of King Carter, a 6-year-old who was killed by a stray bullet last year. The district will use the money to support the King Carter Academy of Trade & Logistics at Miami Northwestern Senior High, and to expand the Miami Central Senior High trade and logistics program. Miami Herald. Six Polk County students win National Merit Scholar awards. Lakeland Ledger.

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