Florida schools roundup: Carvalho to NYC, safety, budget, a return and more

Carvalho to NYC: Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho will be introduced today as the new New York City schools chancellor, according to reports. Carvalho, 53, who has been the Miami-Dade school chief since 2008, replaces the retiring Carmen Farina. His start date has not been set. Carvalho won the national superintendent of the year award in 2014, and was said to have been a top contender for the U.S. education secretary job if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency. “Alberto Carvalho is a world-class educator with an unmatched track record of success,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “I am very confident that our extensive, national search has found New York City the best person to lead the nation’s largest school system into the future.” The Miami-Dade school board meets today to discuss “the stability of the executive management leadership.” Politico Florida. New York TimesMiami Herald. Associated Press. The 74. Chalkbeat.

School safety bills: The Legislature’s collective desire to create a bill that improves school safety is already showing signs of fraying. Both the Senate and House bills call for arming teachers, which Gov. Rick Scott opposes. Thirteen of the Senate’s 15 Democratic members say they won’t support the bill unless it has stronger gun control provisions. Two Republican senators say they may vote against it because it calls for a three-day waiting period for most gun purchases and raises the legal age for buying rifles to 21. Polls show a strong public sentiment for tightening gun laws, and family members of victims are worried that gun advocates are using the tragedy to introduce guns in schools. Miami Herald. Florida Politics. President Donald Trump urges Congress to move quickly on tougher background checks on gun purchases, raising the legal age for some gun purchases, improving school safety and allocatng more money for mental health treatment. Politico FloridaAssociated Press. New York Times. USA Today. Experts say hardening schools against shootings is not as effective as identifying threats early and intervening quickly. Politico Florida.

Education budget: Senate and House negotiators are moving toward an agreement on spending for education. In the first conference committee negotiations, senators agreed to the House’s position on funding for public schools and will use increases in local taxes from new construction, but lower the tax rate on existing properties to offset tax increases driven by rising property values. The committees meet again today and Friday, with a goal of sending a final agreement to the Senate president and House speaker by Sunday morning. News Service of FloridaPolitico Florida. Gradebook.

Students return: Students returning to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for the first time since the Feb. 14 shootings that killed 17 people describe the day as “odd but calming.” Surrounded by a heavy police presence, they observed 17 seconds of silence, ate bagels and cream cheese and got comfort from therapy animals and hugs from fellow students and staff. About 95 percent of the 3,300 students came for the four-hour day devoted to healing. Thursday and Friday also will be four-hour days, with the regular schedule expected to resume next week. Superintendent Robert Runcie says the massive police presence will gradually ease. “We have to strike a balance in security,” says Runcie. “This is not some armed camp.” Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. WQAM. Associated Press. Students talk about their anger and hope. Sun-Sentinel.

School security, threats: School districts and communities in Florida have meetings to discuss safety, and some make plans to improve security at schools even if those measures violate state laws prohibiting local governments from enacting gun rules that are tougher than the state’s. Palm Beach Post. Florida Times-UnionSun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. GradebookTampa Bay Times. Gradebook. Ocala Star-Banner. Panama City News Herald. St. Augustine Record. Bradenton Herald. Daily Commercial. Citrus County Chronicle. Port St. Joe Star. WUSF. WJAX. Districts continue to deal with threats to schools. Here are some of them. Lakeland Ledger. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Pensacola News Journal. Fort Myers News-Press. Panama City News Herald.

Other developments: Prosecutors will present their case against alleged school shooter Nikolas Cruz to a Broward County grand jury next week. Sun-Sentinel. Subpoenas are issued for the House investigation into the actions of law enforcement before and during the shootings. Palm Beach Post. The Uber driver who took Cruz to Stoneman Douglas on Feb. 14 says Cruz told her he was going to his music class. WQAM. Coral Springs Mayor Skip Campbell is starting a petition drive to collect the 800,000 signatures needed to place a referendum on a statewide ballot to ban all assault-style weapons. Sun-Sentinel. Students in Orlando, Bradenton and Mulberry rally for gun reform and safety in schools. Orlando Sentinel. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lakeland Ledger. The Sarasota County School District plans for the March 14 school walkouts by students. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. School attendance dropped in Manatee and Lake counties after the Parkland school shooting. Bradenton Herald. Daily Commercial. The head of the Cushman School in Miami organizes a “violent video game toss” for Friday after hearing reports that Cruz obsessively played violent video games. Miami Herald. Sales of bulletproof glass and doors are booming. Fortune.

Disaster aid for schools: The U.S. Education Department will distribute $2.7 billion to schools in Florida and other states to help recover from hurricanes and wildfires, secretary Betsy DeVos announces. Associated Press.

Board members clash: Sarasota County School Board chairman Scott Hopes claims that fellow member Dave Miner cursed him and threatened him with his car after Tuesday’s meeting. “He’s lucky my gun was in my car,” Hopes say. “He got in his car, he didn’t turn on his headlights, and he was almost to my knees. He was about ready to run me over. I want to see the tapes. He is a crazy person apparently.” Miner responded: “Never at any point or any time did I have an attempt to commit an assault or do any kind of physical injury to Mr. Hopes.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Superintendent search: The Duval County School Board begins collecting input from the community as it launches its search for a new school superintendent. The first of four public meetings is tonight. The board’s goal is to have the new superintendent in place by July 1. The former superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, left last year to run the Detroit school system. Florida Times-Union.

Students protest: Students at Freeport High School protest the alleged abuse of special-needs students during their lunch break. “We’re not skipping lunch because it’s fun,” said Arrianna Zellner, who helped organize the protest. “We don’t want to go hungry. We’re doing this for them.” Northwest Florida Daily News.

New school buses: The Manatee County School Board agrees to buy 16 new school buses for no more than $1.9 million, and now board members will work on a plan to find people to drive them. Bradenton Herald.

A fight over space: It’s been 20 years since Florida Keys Community College contributed $3.1 million toward the construction of Coral Shores High School in Tavernier in return for the use of some of that space, and the school district and the college are still fighting over how much space is enough. The squabble may land in court. Key West Citizen.

Workers arrested: A New Smyrna Beach Middle School science teacher is arrested and accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student. Deputies say Stephanie Peterson Ferri, 26, also sent the boy nude photos of herself. Ferri resigned Monday, say school officials. Daytona Beach News-Journal. A Hillsborough County school cafeteria worker is arrested and accused of felony child abuse. Deputies say Yomesha Campo, 25, beat a child with a cord in a domestic violence incident. Tampa Bay Times.

Student arrested: An 18-year-old student at East Bay High School in Hillsborough County is arrested after a fight in the school cafeteria. He has been charged with two felonies: disrupting a school campus or function and resisting an officer with violence. Tampa Bay Times.

Snake bites student: A senior at University High School in Orange City is bitten on the knuckle by a coral snake he picked up on campus after school. He’s being treated at a hospital. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Letter causes illness: A rambling and incoherent letter sent to the Indian River County school superintendent left a school employee ill. No chemicals were found on the letter, and sheriff’s deputies are investigating. TCPalm.

Opinions on schools: Florida parents should not have to send their kids to school wondering whether the math teacher, the kindergarten teacher or the football coach secretly carries a gun. Tampa Bay Times. We should empower victims to shoot back when threatened, and let teachers carry guns. Ben Newman, Orlando Sentinel. Banning assault-style firearms is the first and most effective action we can take to cut down on shootings at schools. Gloria Pickar, Orlando Sentinel. Debating and solving public issues such as gun reform should be divorced from which party fares well in the next election. Solutions should be about people, not the party. Laurence Reisman, TCPalm. It’s remarkable to see how quickly students from Stoneman Douglas High School mobilized a nation of their peers, and by doing so, have rocked the adult world into a wary and respectful silence. Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post. Great things are happening at River Oak Center, a high school in the Duval County School District that treats and educates teenagers in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse. It’s the only recovery school of its kind in Florida. Florida Times-Union. Courageous school counselors are critically important for building a school’s culture of excellence. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.

Student enrichment: Mosley High School students get to create video games and have fun playing them in teacher Tommy Davis’ video game design class. Panama City News Herald. Students who follow the rules at Boynton Beach High School will be rewarded for their everyday good behavior under a new program started by principal Guarn Sims. Palm Beach Post. Ten 5th- and 6th-graders at Rymfire Elementary School in Palm Coast organize a career day so other students can hear about various jobs and the education they’ll need to get into them. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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