Florida schools roundup: S.B. 374 veto, charters, new report cards and more

S.B. 374 veto: Gov. Rick Scott vetoes the Legislature’s higher education bill, S.B. 374, saying it shortchanges community colleges. “While the bill makes positive changes to several State University System programs, and there are many provisions I think would be good for students, it does so at the expense of the Florida College System,” Scott wrote in his veto letter. The bill, the top priority for Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, also includes a significant expansion of the Bright Futures scholarship program. That and other programs that expand financial aid won’t be affected this year because they’re also embedded in the overall budget bill, says Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. Scott is urging legislators to make the Bright Futures changes permanent during next year’s session. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. News Service of FloridaFlorida Politics. Politico Florida. Sunshine State News. The governor signs 28 other bills, including a measure to study school crossings for potential safety improvements. Palm Beach Post.

H.B. 7069: Despite reports that Gov. Scott will sign H.B. 7069 today in Orlando, State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, is holding out hope that the bill will be vetoed and reworked. Gradebook. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor, says he remains troubled by the secret process used to put together the education bill. Tampa Bay Times. Here’s a summary of some of the things that will happen if H.B. 7069 is signed. Palm Beach Post. Brevard County school officials say they’re behind in the budget process because they still doesn’t know how much money they’ll be getting from the state. Florida Today. The Volusia County School District should receive about $4.5 million more than expected from the state, after the increases approved in the legislative special session, but school officials say they still face a $2.42 million budget deficit. Daytona Beach News-Journal. The Charlotte County School District will receive about 1.7 percent more per student than originally expected from the state. Charlotte Sun.

Charters win in court: A circuit judge rules that five charter schools in Indian River County are entitled to their fair share of a tax approved by voters and collected by the school district for operations. The charters have received about 5 percent of the tax since the 2013-2014 school year, as determined by the school board, but contended they deserved 12 percent. The judge agreed, saying the charter schools should receive a proportional amount based on enrollment. The school board will have to decide whether to appeal. TCPalm. The ruling could have implications for Palm Beach County. Palm Beach Post.

New report cards: New report cards have been issued to Orange County students that provide test score information and comparisons with students around the county and state, as well as data on attendance, demographics, academics, magnet programs and extracurricular activities of schools. “Our report cards reflect the entire educational picture at an individual school,” says Bill Sublette, chairman of the Orange County School Board. Orlando Sentinel.

AP test scores canceled: Test scores for Advanced English exams taken by 249 students at Manatee High School are canceled by the College Board because an unauthorized person was in the room when the tests were taken. The school district unsuccessfully appealed the decision. Students can retake the test June 29. Bradenton Herald.

Another DOE challenge: A second Florida teacher takes the state Department of Education before an administrative judge, alleging the scoring process for the teacher certification testing is flawed. Daryl Bryant, who has been teaching physical education at a charter school in Cocoa, has failed the essay portion of the state’s teacher certification exam three times. WPTV.

Charter school extended: The Collier County School Board approves an extension of the district’s contract with the Mason Classical Academy, even though the charter school’s attorney rejected requests from the district to increase its school board size from three to five members, meet monthly and secure external accreditation. Naples Daily News.

Security upgrades: The Brevard County School Board approves a plan to accelerate security upgrades at every school in the district. Fencing, security cameras and remote-controlled locks are among the upgrades. The board will use money from a surtax approved by voters in 2014, which is expected to generate $198 million over six years for building repairs, technology purchases and security upgrades. Florida Today.

Fighting reports: In the 2014-2015 school year, more than 5,000 fights were reported in Miami-Dade County schools. In 2015-2016, the number was 311. What caused the drop? The district changed the criteria for reporting them. Only major fights, in which an adult has to physically restrain students or when someone is hurt, are now reported. WLRN.

Ex-superintendent cleared: The Florida Ethics Commission has dismissed an allegation of plagiarism against former Clay County School Superintendent Charlie Van Sant Jr. Susan Sailor, the former principal of Keystone Heights Junior/Senior High School, accused Van Sant of using her research to get leadership certification from the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, which allowed him to receive a pay raise. Florida Times-Union.

Help for parents: Workers from seven counties gather for training for the Duval County School District’s Parent Academy. The academy, which began in 2012, has helped more than 15,000 parents and students new to school districts understand what’s expected of them. Florida Times-Union.

School testing: More reports on results from the Florida Standards Assessments tests. Santa Rosa Press Gazette. Port St. Joe Star. A Pasco County school district committee wants to have district final exams count 10 percent toward students’ final grades, even though this year’s results were removed from students’ grade point averages after teachers complained the tests did not match the course content. Gradebook. Orange County middle schoolers earned the top marks in the state’s Algebra 1 end-of-course exam, according to the Florida Department of Education. Bridge to Tomorrow.

Personnel moves: Iranetta Wright, the Duval County chief of schools, resigns effective June 30. She had worked for the Duval district as a teacher and administrator for 25 years. She did not disclose a reason for resigning. Florida Times-Union. Six new principals are named at Hillsborough County schools. Gradebook. Thirty-nine other administrative appointments are approved by the Hillsborough County School Board. Gradebook.

Notable deaths: Pasco County kindergarten teacher Janell Perez has died at the age of 49, of cancer. Perez had taught in the district since 1996, and at Watergrass Elementary School for the past decade. Gradebook.

School bus driver arrested: A Polk County school bus driver will be fired after being arrested and accused of sexual assault at his second job as a caretaker at an assisted living facility in Hillsborough County. Brian Coffee, 55, who had worked as a school bus driver in Polk County since 2010, is accused of sexually assaulting a mentally and physically disabled adult. Lakeland LedgerTampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools: It’s time for bypassed legislators — and voters, too — to speak out, shrink back the powers of the chambers’ leaders and insist upon a far more transparent, participatory and representative process. Palm Beach Post. Having the AP exam you just took thrown out, and losing the college credits, is like having your paycheck canceled after you did the work. Tom Lyons, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Two projects by Flagler County students win top prizes in the Future Problem Solving International Competition in Wisconsin. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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