Florida schools roundup: Schools of Hope applicants, term limits and more

Schools of Hope: Thirty-three struggling Florida schools have applied for extra money through the state’s Schools of Hope program. This is the second round of applications. In the first round, 50 schools applied for the extra $2,000 per student, but only 11 were accepted. The state is limiting the number of schools in the program to 25. The state Board of Education is expected to announce the winners next month. Gradebook.

Proposed amendments: A committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission approves two proposed constitutional amendments – one that would set term limits for local school board members at eight consecutive years, retroactive to 2016, and another that would require school district superintendents to be appointed rather than elected. The proposals still have to be approved by 22 of the 37 commissioners before they can be placed on the November 2018 ballot. Then, 60 percent of voters would have to approve to put the amendments into effect. GradebookPolitico Florida. The move to require school superintendents to be appointed riles some superintendents from rural areas. Politico Florida. The panel also will consider a proposal that would allow entities other than local school districts to oversee charter schools. The proposal was made by Erika Donalds, a Collier County School Board and CRC member. redefinED.

State responds to suits: Lawyers for the state are asking a a Leon County circuit court judge to dismiss a lawsuit against six provisions in the new education bill, H.B. 7069. They argued that the 13 districts bringing the suit don’t have the standing to challenge five of those provisions. They also say claims that the law will harm local schools is “speculative.” The sixth provision in the law requires districts to share more local tax revenues with charter schools. It is being challenged by the Palm Beach County School Board. State lawyers point out that districts are already required to share some local tax money with charters. redefinED.

Paying for student influx: Gov. Rick Scott tells education leaders that the state will provide financial help for school districts that are seeing a surge in enrollment from those students displaced by hurricanes this year. “We’ll work with each of the school districts to make sure that they have the resources to be able to take care of these students,” said Scott, who implied that the state could tape its reserves. But Scott’s budget director, Cynthia Kelly, says the state will ask the federal government for  emergency assistance to offset districts’ unexpected costs. Nearly 10,000 students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have enrolled in Florida schools. WLRN.

School programs: The Marion County School District starts a diversion program for students who engage in inappropriate sexual activity at school. The program is called CLEAN SLATE (Character Lessons Empowering and Nurturing, Students Learning Accountability Through Education) and allows first-time offenders to attend six after-school classes that teach them how to make better decisions instead of being assigned to an alternative school. Ocala Star-Banner. The Bay District School District and Panama City are collaborating on the project that broadens after-school recreational activities for students and opens school facilities for those activities. Panama City News Herald.

Selling a tax hike: Manatee County School Board chairman Scott Hopes hits the road to help sell a 1-mill property tax for schools that he voted against before being elected chairman. “As chairman I am both obligated, and I’m committed to move forward with the right foot forward first to implement the decisions the board has made. That’s my role now,” Hopes says. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Personnel moves: Rick Stelljes, the chief of the Pinellas County School District’s police force, is retiring Jan. 15. Gradebook.

School board elections: Mike Aday, a 32-year-old social studies teacher at Hudson Middle School, says he is running for the District 5 seat on the Pasco County School Board. Steve Luikart holds the seat now. Another announced candidate is Kathryn Hutchinson. Gradebook.

Raise for substitutes: The Citrus County School Board approves a pay raise for substitute teachers. Subs without a bachelor’s degree will make $70 a day. Those with at least a bachelor’s degree will make $75. Long-term subs without degrees will make $78, and those with a teaching certificate will make $80. The raises are expected to cost the district an extra $87,000. Citrus County Chronicle.

School district sued: A school employee is suing the Okaloosa County School District and at least four employees, alleging she was discriminated against after running for school superintendent in 2016 against Mary Beth Jackson, who won the election. Named in the suit by Marline Van Dyke are Jackson, assistant superintendent of Human Resources Stacie Smith, investigator Arden Farley and school spokesman Henry Kelley. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Suicide attempt: For the second time in a month, a Lake Minneola High School student has attempted suicide. Last month, 17-year-old Seth Sutherland shot and killed himself just before a scheduled fire drill. Thursday, a high school junior was hospitalized after swallowing pills he stole from the school nurse’s office. Orlando Sentinel. Daily Commercial.

Student arrested: A 14-year-old Gulfview Middle School student is arrested and accused of choking a teacher. The student allegedly attacked the teacher after being told to work on his class assignment at the Naples school. Other students intervened to stop the attack. Naples Daily News.

Student Tasered: A Pinellas Park school police officer uses a Taser to stun a student as she and another student fought in the bus circle at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School. The student was treated for injuries she sustained in the fight, and the state attorney is considering charges against both girls. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA. WTSP.

Student removed: A student whose mother was arrested this week for coming to Lincoln High School and hitting another student will be removed and sent to her zoned school. The girl was at the school by choice, and Leon County School District policy allows the revoke school choice assignments of students with “significant discipline issues.” Tallahassee Democrat.

Coach suspended: A coach at Columbia County High School is suspended for having “inappropriate communications with a student,” according to school officials, who would not name the coach. WJAX.

Opinions on schools: The solution to bullying in schools is NOT facilitating the transfer of bullied students to other schools. The solution is holding bullies accountable for their actions and teaching conflict-resolution skills to all children. TCPalm. Consideration of future salary hikes should be put on hold by the until the Polk County School District, with or without Tallahassee’s help, can afford to fund those and provide our children adequately maintained learning facilities. Lakeland Ledger. Do some students fail on purpose to protect their egos? Charles Robinson, TCPalm.

Student enrichment: Asia Lavender, a 17-year-old senior at Lake Minneola High School, becomes the first Lake County student to win a statewide scholarship in the Leaders For Life fellowship program through Take Stock in Children. Daily Commercial. For the fifth straight year, 4th-graders in Ann Marie Morgiewicz’s class at Immokalee Community School exchange letters with a teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. Five years ago, 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at the school. Naples Daily News. Students at Jinks Middle School in Panama City launch a food drive to help their underprivileged classmates. Panama City News Herald. Natasha Goodley of Tampa starts a GoFundMe page to help students at Potter Elementary School pay their overdue lunch balances. WFLA.

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