Florida schools roundup: H.B. 7069 lawsuits, raises, top teachers and more

Suit dismissal denied: A Leon County circuit judge denies the state’s request to dismiss a Palm Beach County School Board lawsuit against a portion of the education law, H.B. 7069. The district says the law is unconstitutional because it infringes on the rights of local school boards by requiring them to share local property tax money with charter schools. The state says the Palm Beach board’s “claims are based on erroneous interpretations of the Florida Constitution” and contends the state has the authority to supervise the public school system. News Service of Florida. Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court is transferring another case, this one brought by nine school districts alleging that H.B. 7069 violates the constitutional single-subject rule for laws. The case will now be heard in a Leon County circuit court. The education bill began as a six-page proposal but expanded to 274 pages and dozens of subjects in the final days of the 2017 legislative session. Gradebook. Florida Politics. redefinEDPolitico Florida.

Pay raises coming: The Broward County School Board approves a pay raise proposal for teachers. Most teachers will get a raise of at least 2.5 percent, while ones rated as “highly effective” will get up to 3.6 percent. The raises are retroactive to July, and will appear in teachers’ paychecks in January. The deal, which was approved by 91 percent of the teachers who voted, will cost the district $24.3 million. Sun-Sentinel.

Teachers honored: Chasey Niebrugge, an exceptional student education teacher at River Hall Elementary in Alva, is chosen as the Lee County School District’s teacher of the year. WBBH. Fort Myers News-Press. Four finalists are chosen for the St. Johns County School District’s teacher of the year award. They are: Amy Grimm, 1st grade, Julington Creek Elementary; Kathleen Hunting, 2nd grade, Osceola Elementary; Chassity Johnson, 8th grade math, Sebastian Middle; and Jonathan Higgins, psychology, Pedro Menendez High. The winner will be announced Jan. 24. St. Augustine Record. Joseph Underwood, who teaches television production at Miami Senior High School, is one of 50 teachers in the world chosen as finalists for the 2018 Global Teacher Prize awarded by the Varkey Foundation. The winner receives $100,000 a year for 10 years. Patch.com.

Virtual courses: Almost 340 students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have signed up to take courses from Florida Virtual School. Most of them still live in Puerto Rico. About 10,000 students displaced by hurricanes have enrolled in Florida schools so far. redefinED.

Enrollment growth: Enrollment growth is continuing for the Pasco County School District, with five of 14 high schools well over capacity and two others at 100 percent, and half the district’s 16 middle schools are at or above capacity. Among the options being considered: renovating abandoned big box retail stores, adding magnet programs in schools with unfilled seats, and building new classrooms at some existing schools. Gradebook.

Teacher extensions: The Pasco County School District is easing its position on extending retiring teachers. Since 2009, the district routinely denied teachers’ requests to stay on past their declared retirement date. Now, Superintendent Kurt Browning has approved one such request and says he’ll consider others on a case-by-case basis. Gradebook.

Personnel moves: Alberto Vazquez, chief of staff for the Hillsborough County School District since 2015, is resigning to become deputy superintendent of the Hartford, Conn., school district. Tampa Bay Times. Hartford Courant.

School name: Pasco County’s Ridgewood High School will close at the end of this school year, and reopen in August as Wendell Krinn Technical High. Krinn was the principal at Ridgewood when it opened, and ran the school for 20 years. Gradebook.

Teacher arrested: A Haines City High School science teacher is arrested and accused of sending nude photos of herself and explicit messages to a 15-year-old boy in Texas. Robin Dunlap, 27, is charged with transmitting material harmful to a minor and using a two-way communication device to commit a felony. Lakeland LedgerWKMG. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA.

Teacher resigns: A long-time Citrus County teacher resigns after an investigation recommends she be fired for trying to get a student’s grades changed so he could play football. Marlon Felton had been a teacher at Crystal River High School. Citrus County Chronicle.

Student arrested: A 17-year-old Cocoa High School student is arrested and accused of making threats against a school dean. The threats came after the student was suspended. Florida Today.

Opinions on schools: Florida’s school accountability system is paying off, and will continue to in the future with the state’s commitment to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Patricia Levesque, Tampa Bay Times. The typical superintendent of an urban school system only lasts three years, usually due to political conflicts with elected board members. So the Jacksonville Civic Council has wisely recommended that the Duval County School Board not hire a replacement until a new board takes over late next year. Florida Times-Union. Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program helps provide lower-income families with the ability to find an approach to learning that works best for their children. (Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the program.). Don Matz, Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student enrichment: A drive by Manatee County School District social workers and community volunteers raises money to provide gifts to 470 low-income students in the school district. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Twenty business students at Flagler Palm Coast High School create a brochure and website to promote the program and market local businesses. Daytona Beach News-Journal. First Tee of Northwest Florida donates $25,000 for equipment and training to Bay County teachers for golf programs from elementary school through high school. Panama City News Herald.

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