Florida schools roundup: Hurricane, DACA, schools of hope and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Storm closes schools: All schools in Monroe County are closed today as the Keys are evacuated for Hurricane Irma. Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Lee, Collier, Hernando, St. Lucie, Martin and Indian River counties are closing schools Thursday and Friday, and other districts around the state are monitoring the storm. Miami Herald. Miami HeraldWPEC. WPLG. Keynoter. Key West Citizen. Palm Beach Post. Sun-SentinelOrlando SentinelFort Myers News-Press. Naples Daily News. TCPalm. Bay News 9Gradebook. Florida Today. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Flagler Live. Citrus County Chronicle. WUSF. WFLA. WFTV. WLRN. WKRG. WPTV.

Undocumented immigrants: As expected, President Trump is ending the program that protects the children of undocumented immigrants. The program, called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, affects about 800,000 young people. Trump will delay implementing the end of the program for six months, and is challenging Congress to pass a “responsible immigration reform package” that includes protection for the so-called “dreamers” and border control. Associated Press. New York Times. Washington Post. Education Week. Chalkbeat. Florida school officials and students react to the decision. Palm Beach Post. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Sun-SentinelNaples Daily News. Fort Myers News-PressFlorida Education Association. Pensacola News Journal. Lakeland Ledger. Tallahassee Democrat.

Schools of hope: Fifty-seven of the 93 failing Florida schools are eligible for an additional $2,000 per student under the “schools of hope” provision of the new education law, H.B. 7069. Legislators decided a maximum of 25 of those schools will get the money, for a total outlay of $51.5 million of the $140 millions allotted in the law. The rest will go into a program to attract charter school companies into areas with persistently low-performing schools. Miami Herald.

Sales tax promoted: Hillsborough County school officials now say they may have no choice but to ask voters to approve a sales tax increase to pay for urgent infrastructure repairs. Years of deferred maintenance due to a financial crunch have resulted in broken air conditioners, leaking roofs and other problems at dozens of schools. “It’s hard to build confidence when you send your kid to school and there’s no AC in the school. It’s hard to build confidence in your employees when they don’t have AC in the classroom.” says Chris Farkas, the district’s chief operating officer. Tampa Bay Times.

School budgets: The Polk County School Board approves a $1.4 billion budget, up from the $1.2 billion last year. Lakeland Ledger. The Manatee County School approves a budget of $884.4 million, up from about $660 million last year. The district welcomed more than 1,000 new students and is building three schools. Bradenton Herald.

School costs rise: The Lee County School Board unanimously approves spending an additional $13.9 million to complete the building of Bonita Springs High School. The total cost is now up to $84.9 million, 20 percent higher than budgeted when the project was approved in April 2016. Board members blamed poor estimating of costs, labor shortages and construction inflation for the increase. Fort Myers News-Press.

Enrollment changes: Four Palm Beach County schools get added to the crowded list after the first head count of the school year, and three others fall off the list. Palm Beach Post.

School change protested: Ridgewood High School students urge the Pasco County School Board not to change their school into a technical education magnet, as proposed for next year. Gradebook.

School improvement: A Bradenton charter school jumps from a F to a C grade from the state in its third year. Officials and parents credit the improvement at Visible Men Academy to new leadership, personalized learning and regular assessments of each student’s progress. redefinED.

Dress code: Some parents and students are complaining about a few students wearing Confederate flags to Vero Beach High School. Principal Shawn O’Keefe said two Confederate flags were brought onto campus Friday, but the flags caused no disruptions or incidents. Local NAACP official say the Indian River County School District is ignoring their concerns over the incident. TCPalmWPEC.

Officers in schools: Four new school resource officers are stationed at elementary schools in Bay County, and officials hope to hire more in the future so all K-5 schools will have an officer. Panama City News Herald.

Opinions on schools: Lake Worth is unnecessarily risking its top-ranked school by allowing a medical marijuana dispensary to open across the street. Palm Beach Post. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visit to Tallahassee was a positive step. Rev. R.B. Holmes, Tallahassee Democrat.

Student enrichment: Springstead High School freshman Makayla Trowell is the honored guest at a ceremony celebrating the placement of a flashing light and school zone signs outside her previous school, Crews Lake Middle School. Trowell started a drive for the light and signs to improve safety for students. Tampa Bay Times.

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