Florida schools roundup: Funding for schools, cold weather and more

School funding: Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida House appear headed for conflict over education funding when the Legislature convenes next Tuesday. Scott wants to boost education spending by allowing local districts to collect more in taxes as property values increase. House leaders say that’s a tax hike, and they won’t let it happen. Ten years ago, the state provided 62 percent of public education funding. That slipped to 52 percent in 2007-2008 and is at 57 percent now. That 5 percentage point difference would have added $1 billion to the $20.6 billion spent on education this year. Gradebook.

Cold-weather cancellations: Alachua County schools remain closed today, but most others are open although some continue to curtail extracurricular activities. WEAR. Florida Times-Union. Gainesville Sun. Ocala Star-Banner. Daily Commercial. WFSU. WJAX. WKMG.

Education court fight: The legal battle between school districts and the state over H.B. 7069 is one of five potentially far-reaching Florida court fights that may be decided this year. News Service of Florida.

Latvala lobbied for funds: NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer is urging departing state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Palm Harbor, to donate money he’s collected in campaign contributions to the families of children with learning disabilities. Latvala, who has been running for governor, resigned from the Senate after being accused of sexual misconduct. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Politics.

School traffic problem: A Pembroke Pines charter school’s growth is causing traffic problems in its neighborhood. Somerset Academy, an A-rated, K-12 school, hopes the construction of a new building nearby for lower grades will help, and it’s offering parents incentives to have their children ride the school bus to alleviate the congestion. Sun-Sentinel.

Child abuse trial dates: Trials for three former Okaloosa County school employees charged in a child abuse case have been delayed, and now are set the week of March 12. Former Kenwood Elementary pre-K special education teacher Marlynn Stillions is accused of child abuse, and former Kenwood principal Angelyn Vaughan and former district investigator Arden Farley face charges of failure to report suspected child abuse. Northwest Florida Daily News.

School board elections: Rene Flowers, chairwoman of the Pinellas County School Board, is running for another term. Her opponents for the District 7 seat are Shyla Sams and Nick Wright. Four of the seven Pinellas school board seats are up for election this year. Tampa Bay Times.

Notable deaths: Orestes Amador Jr., 51, a math teacher at Design & Architecture Senior High in Miami, dies when his car collides with a police cruiser in Hialeah. He was 51. Miami Herald.

New athletic center: An anonymous donor has pledged more than $1 million to Clearwater Catholic High School so it can build a football-only athletic center that includes a 75-seat meeting room with high-definition televisions, locker rooms and offices. Construction begins in the spring, with a scheduled completion date of early fall. Tampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools: The Alachua County School District won’t be able to please everyone with its school closure decisions, but should do more to take the concerns of working parents into consideration. An abundance of caution shouldn’t mean an overreaction every time there is severe weather here. Gainesville Sun. My former professional home of Hillsborough County serves as a case study in educational change to which other districts, leaders, policy makers and teachers should pay attention. Megan M. Allen, Education Week.

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