Florida schools roundup: Charters, funding, back to school and more

Charter school support: Support for the charter school movement is declining in America, according to a recent survey by Education Next, a journal published by Harvard’s Kennedy School and Stanford University. Only 39 percent of of those polled favor opening more “charters – schools that are funded by public money, but usually operated independently of school districts.” That’s down from 51 percent last year. Associated Press.

Back to school: More from districts around Florida that have returned to school or will soon. Florida Times-UnionPalm Beach Post. Sun-Sentinel. Orlando SentinelSarasota Herald-Tribune. Gainesville Sun. Tallahassee Democrat. Daytona Beach News-Journal. About a quarter of Osceola Magnet School’s students stayed home on the first day of the new school year after the disclosure of a mold problem at the school. School officials are still waiting for the results of air quality tests. TCPalm. WPTV. Ten tips for young teachers from a veteran educator. Palm Beach Post.

School funding protest: The Lake County School Board approves a resolution urging the state to “halt the transfer of education funding from poorer school districts to wealthier school districts.” That district cost differential portion of the school funding formula has shortchanged the district by $57 million since 2004, board members say. “You have 14 counties in the state benefiting from this. The 53 other counties are paying for it,” says board member Bill Mathias. Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart,  recently approved a legislative study of the differential. Daily Commercial.

Help for gifted students: Students at 16 high schools in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco who are struggling in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs will get help from a program developed by two academics to support students who they think are often “taken for granted.” The Advancing Coping and Engagement program will provide students with weekly lessons on developing time management skills and connecting with teachers. Tampa Bay Times.

Eclipse schedules: School districts around the state are deciding if their students will be permitted to view the solar eclipse Monday, and how they will do so safely. Miami HeraldSun-Sentinel. Bradenton Herald. Panama City News Herald. WJAX. WFTV. WSVN. WJXT. WKMG.

Senatorial overlap: Texts sent from State Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, to other legislators and Gov. Rick Scott show the blurring of the lines between his role as a legislator and his job as head of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. Montford lobbied against H.B. 7069, a bill opposed by superintendents, describing in his text messages how legislators might derail the legislation. Montford says the overlap is unavoidable. “Unless you have independently wealthy people that can serve in the Florida Legislature and not have another job, and I don’t think that would be very wise … most of us have to work another job,” he says. Politico Florida.

Anti-hate training: Leon County school students are receiving training against hate and racism through a program with the Anti-Defamation League. The county is the only district in the state to bring the “No Place For Hate” program into its middle and high schools, ADL officials say. Tallahassee Democrat.

Toxic park: County officials have known for more than two years that a park used by Kendall school students has above-normal concentrations of arsenic above the normal level in its soil, but didn’t notify officials at the Devon Aire K-8 center or neighborhood residents until June. County officials admit they should have told the district and residents earlier, but they say the arsenic levels aren’t high enough to pose a health risk. Miami Herald.

School safety: Some parents are expressing concern for the safety of students who are walking to the new community school in the Orlando neighborhood of Parramore. They say there are 267 registered sex offenders within 2 miles of the Academic Center for Excellence, and they want security updated. WFTV.

Contract negotiations: The Manatee County School District and its teachers return to the bargaining table to discuss their next contract. Teachers wants to focus on pay and health insurance, while district officials say they believe the contract language needs to be updated. Bradenton Herald.

Learning sign language: A state audit from the 2015-2016 school year discloses that 82 employees at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine did not have American Sign Language (ASL) skills. Among them were three teachers. WJAX.

Teachers who stay: While many teachers are fleeing the profession, here are a few who are staying, and why. Sun-Sentinel.

Leading a turnaround: For the past decade, Joy Baxley has been a Marion County School District assistant principal who resisted applying for any principal’s job. When she finally gave in two weeks ago, she took on the challenge at Wyomina Park Elementary School, which got an F grade from the state. Ocala Star-Banner.

Educator honored: Rosette J. Brown, who was a teacher, guidance counselor and principal during a 40-year career with the Brevard County School District, wins the Space Coast public service lifetime achievement award. Space Coast Daily.

Teachers threatened: An 18-year-old Pasco County student is arrested and accused of threatening to kill a River Ridge High School teacher. Desiree Zio, a senior at Marchman Technical College, said on Facebook that she was going to stab the teacher with a knife. Tampa Bay Times. A Port St. Lucie man is arrested after pulling a loaded gun during an argument with a self-defense instructor at Grace Christian Academy. George Meyer, 61, was attending an open house at the school and took offense when he heard the instructor says guns are not always the best choice for self-defense. Palm Beach Post. TCPalm.

Teachers arrested: A Naples High School teacher and football coach is arrested and accused of soliciting sex from a minor. Collier County deputies say Brock Smith faces two charges of unlawful sex with a minor in one case, one charge of soliciting sexual activity with a minor and one charge of transmission of harmful material to a minor. Naples Daily News. A teacher at a Lake Alfred charter school is arrested and accused of DUI. Mauricus Green, 41, who teaches at the Discovery Academy, has been suspended pending a review. Lakeland Ledger.

Opinions on schools: The naming of an equity director for the Alachua County School District is a promising development, but it will take public support, oversight and pressure to ensure that the district’s efforts to achieve equity don’t stop there. Gainesville Sun. Not everyone on the Treasure Coast was ready for school to start. That includes many kids. But in two area districts, it also included some school officials who demonstrated astounding lapses in communication. Gil Smart, TCPalm.

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