School safety bill: The Florida House votes today on the school safety bill passed by the Senate on Monday. Tuesday, representatives turned away every amendment to put limits on guns beyond those already approved by senators and agreed to the provisions in the Senate bill, including a voluntary program to arm some school personnel, a three-day waiting period to buy firearms and an increase in the legal age for buying guns from 18 to 21. The House vote is expected to be close. Sun-Sentinel. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. GateHouse. Tallahassee Democrat. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Families of all 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting urge the House to pass the bill. Miami Herald. There’s plenty to like – and hate – in the school safety bill. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The U.S. House will vote next week on the STOP School Violence Act of 2018, a bill that would create a grant program to train students, teachers and other school staff on identifying and intervening when someone shows signs of violence. Associated Press. About a dozen Florida senators receive jars filled with tar and feathers after the school safety bill passed, labeled “From the Children of Bradford County.” Miami Herald. Politico Florida. House leaders pull at least $10 million worth of projects out of the budget that had been requested by Republicans who oppose the school safety bill. Politico Florida.
Districts’ actions: The Broward County School Board passes a resolution calling for the ban of semiautomatic weapons and tougher federal background checks for gun buyers. Sun-Sentinel. Hillsborough County School Board members vote unanimously against arming anyone on campuses other than law enforcement officials. Gradebook. Pasco County School Board members say that school safety measures called for in the Legislature’s bill could take money away from other district priorities, such as boosting teacher pay, adding guidance counselors and expanding prekindergarten programs. Gradebook. Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd says Polk County schools won’t be arming teachers and staff. Lakeland Ledger. St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara says there is now an armed deputy at all county schools. TCPalm. Sarasota County School Board members agree to a five-year, $25 million plan to improve school security. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
State budget: A disagreement over how to fund hospitals will force the Legislature to work overtime to complete a budget. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, told representatives to expect to work through Saturday, or even Monday. The House and Senate agree on K-12 and university spending, on the expansion of Bright Futures and on teacher bonuses, but could not come to a consensus on how to reimburse hospitals for Medicaid. There’s a 72-hour hour cooling off period after agreement is reached on a budget, which meant it had to be completed Tuesday night for the Legislature to finish as scheduled on Friday. News Service of Florida. Tampa Bay Times. Politico Florida.
Education bills: Just 13 hours after the Senate approved it, the higher education bill is on Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. Scott vetoed last year’s bill, citing provisions that affected Florida’s 28 state colleges. This year’s bill does not include those provisions, and it permanently expands the amount of money Bright Futures students receive. News Service of Florida. Teachers union leaders around Florida blast the passage of H.B. 7055, calling it the latest assault on K-12 public education that will worsen the already dwindling shortage of teachers. Gradebook.
School shooting: The first of 15 survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting will give testimony today before the grand jury considering charges against Nikolas Cruz. Sun-Sentinel. A second survivor of the shooting sends a letter of intent to file a lawsuit against the Broward Sheriff’s Office, FBI, school district, principal and school resource officer. Sun-Sentinel. Associated Press. The Broward Sheriff’s Office says a captain ordered deputies to set up a perimeter around Douglas High after the shooting, not during it. Sun-Sentinel. The names of the 17 students killed in the school shooting are put up in lights on a building in New York City’s Times Square. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will visit Douglas High School today. Miami Herald. Liberal philanthropist George Soros says that while he supports the gun protests of Douglas High students, he is not bankrolling the protests. Associated Press.
Saving daylight: The Senate joins the House in approving a bill that would allow Florida to have daylight saving time year-round. If Gov. Scott signs it, the U.S. Congress also would have to approve the change. Miami Herald. Associated Press.
Opting out of tests: Some Polk County parents say they got pushback when they notified school officials that their children would not be taking the Florida Standards Assessments. WFTS.
Contract ratified: The Sarasota County School Board and its teachers ratify a two-year contract that gives highly effective teachers a 4.25 percent pay hike, 3.25 percent to most of the rest of teachers, and 3.75 percent to other employees. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
School board elections: An 18-year-old Crystal River High School student is running for a seat on the Citrus County School Board. Adam York is a candidate for the District 5 seat against incumbent Linda Powers and Tim Stuart. Citrus County Chronicle.
Suspension questioned: The mother of a 14-year-old girl who claims she was sexually assaulted at Carol City Senior High School says her daughter was pressured by a school police officer into admitting the sex with three boys was consensual. The girl was then suspended for a week. Miami Herald.
Teacher arrested: A teacher and weightlifting coach at Colonial High School in Orlando is arrested and accused of selling Viagra and Cialis and other performance-enhancing drugs to students. Sean C. Grove, 55, is on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. Orlando Sentinel.
Administrator fired: Duval County school officials fire Spencer Lodree, a recently hired assistant principal at Northwestern Middle School, because he neglected to tell them he had stolen money from his last job as principal at Fernandina Beach High School. Florida Times-Union.
School threats: A 14-year-old girl is arrested and accused of making threats at Tyrone Middle School in St. Petersburg. Tampa Bay Times. A 14-year-old Flagler County student is arrested after threatening to “shoot up” Matanzas High School. Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Students hurt on bus: Five students are sprayed with hot steam and water when a heater hose breaks on a Lake Nona High School bus. Orlando Sentinel.
Opinions on schools: Inside the Tallahassee bubble, lawmakers pay no attention to the wishes of the people. Randy Schultz, Sun-Sentinel. H.B. 7055 is a victory lap for lawmakers who decided long ago that Florida public education is falling way short and needs to be blown up and rebuilt, charter by charter. Joe Henderson, Florida Politics. We all want safe schools; we just disagree on how to make that happen. Mark Woods, Florida Times-Union.
Student enrichment: Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School perform at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday. The students played five works of music, including an original composition entitled The World is a Secret, and received a standing ovation. New York Post. Associated Press. Vasundara Govindarajan, a 14-year-old 8th-grader at Frank C. Martin International K-8 Center, wins the Miami-Dade spelling bee for the fourth straight year and qualifies for the national competition in May. Miami Herald. All 6th-graders at Cypress Creek and Seven Springs middle schools in Pasco County take advanced language arts, and school officials say the decision is paying off with more students testing at or above grade level than schools that still place many students in basic classes. Tampa Bay Times. Three classes at Homosassa Elementary School in Citrus County collect 1,400 pairs of eyeglasses for the Homosassa Lions Club. Citrus County Chronicle.