Florida schools roundup: Marches, security, outside operators and more

Marching students: Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland lead a march of about 800,000 people in Washington, D.C., to call for stricter regulation of guns and safety in schools. Seventeen people were killed in a shooting at the school Feb. 14, launching the #NeverAgain movement and marches in Washington and around the world on Saturday. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. New York TimesAssociated Press. Tribune News ServicePolitico. Tampa Bay Times. Politico Florida. Naples Daily News. The 74. Education Week. Students around the state also participate in local marches. Associated PressTampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. Florida Times-UnionPolitico Florida. Tallahassee DemocratPensacola News Journal. Florida Today. Fort Myers News-Press. TCPalmNaples Daily News. Sarasota Herald-TribuneBradenton HeraldGainesville Sun. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Flagler Live. Northwest Florida Daily News. Daily Commercial. Citrus County ChronicleVillages-News. Key West Citizen. The story of how Stoneman Douglas High students turned their grief into action is the subject of a documentary called 39 Days. CBS News. What’s next for the Stoneman Douglas student-activists? Miami Herald. USA Today. An online poll shows that two-thirds of U.S. high school students think gun laws should be stricter. Orlando Sentinel.

School security: Another battle is shaping up between school districts and the state over the requirements of the new school safety law. Districts say the Legislature didn’t provide enough funding for putting an armed officer in every school, and there isn’t enough time to comply by the start of the next school year. “People want school security, right now,” says Andrea Messina, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association. “But just having this legislation in place doesn’t mean anything is going to improve right away.” Sun-SentinelGateHouse. Tampa Bay Times. Gov. Rick Scott sends a letter to every school superintendent and school board with a list of things they must do to comply with the new Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Florida TodayWCJB. A school safety pilot program developed by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd in 2016 is incorporated into Florida’s controversial new law, and is the basis for Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey’s program. It calls for arming teachers and other school workers with concealed weapons at schools. Florida Today. Jewish school leaders in south Florida praise state leaders for setting aside $2 million in the budget to harden non-public schools. Sun-Sentinel. The Leon County School District denies a request from a charter school company to provide Governors Charter Academy in Tallahassee a school resource officer by April 1. Tallahassee DemocratGradebook. A company is testing a school alert system at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce that initiates a loud siren and strobe lights to alert and disrupt in an active-shooter situation. TCPalm. The Clay County School District begins a series of community meetings about school safety today. Florida Times-Union. St. Johns County school and law enforcement officials struggle with an increased sense of anxiety in schools. St. Augustine Record.

Outside operators: Ten schools in the Tampa Bay area could be turned over to outside operators if their school grades from the state don’t rise to a C or above. Some of the proposed external operators are already visiting the Hillsborough and Pinellas schools. Pinellas has chosen West Palm Beach-based Learning Sciences International to help three struggling schools even if their grades improve. Hillsborough has selected Phalen Leadership Academies of Indiana for its seven troubled schools. Tampa Bay Times.

Civics education: Florida is generally regarded as having the most comprehensive civics education program in the country. The Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Civics Education Act of 2010 requires all middle school students to take a civics class and pass a comprehensive test. And civics education reading is incorporated into the K-12 language arts curriculum. “If every state enacted a policy like Florida’s … America’s young people would be on course for more active and informed civic engagement,” according to a 2017 report by Peter Levine and Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg. Christian Science Monitor.

Education amendments: The Constitution Revision Commission will continue its consideration of four education issues that would affect K-12 and charter schools, as well as other issues. WFSU. Associated Press.

HPV vaccine: A bill that would have required all children entering school to get vaccinated against cervical and other cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection didn’t move forward in the Legislature, but it’s likely to resurface next year. Tampa Bay Times.

Recruiting teachers: With growing enrollment and 25 percent turnover rate among first-year teachers, the Polk County School District is struggling to hire enough qualified teachers even though it offers one of the better starting salaries in central Florida. Lakeland Ledger.

District growth: The Santa Rosa County School District is planning to build four new schools in the next 10 years to keep up with enrollment growth. The district projects to have 6,000 more students over the next decade. Pensacola News Journal.

Special ed concerns: Several recent troubling incidents involving special-needs students in the Oakloosa County School District have parents worried about their children’s schooling. Northwest Florida Daily News.

School board infighting: The Manatee County School Board infighting intensified last week when board member Charlie Kennedy proposed removing Scott Hopes as chairman for his comments about having a gun after a confrontation with fellow member Dave Miner. The board then argued for two hours before putting off the issue of reorganizing the board. Bradenton HeraldSarasota Herald-Tribune.

Sales tax hike: The Polk County School District will be asking voters in November to renew an extra half-cent sales tax to raise as much as $40 million a year for school maintenance and construction. Here’s a Q&A about the tax and what the revenue would be used for. Lakeland Ledger.

School counseling help: A program to provide counseling to Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa county students is being expanded from eight schools to 13, with two more to be added this year. The counseling to help students with anxiety, depression and more is provided by the Children’s Home Society of Florida. Pensacola News Journal. The Apalachee Center, a mental health services provider in the Big Bend area, says it will expand its services to schools in Leon and seven surrounding counties. WFSU.

Extended days fees: The Marion County School Board will consider a proposal to increase the fees charged for children in the district’s Extended Day before-school and after-school day care. The district is having trouble finding and keeping workers for the program, and the increase would be used to boost their pay. Ocala Star-Banner.

Claims bill signed: Gov. Rick Scott signs a bill that authorizes payments of $180,000 to each of the parents whose son was shot and killed by a classmate in 2002 at Conniston Middle School in West Palm Beach. Palm Beach Post.

District websites: The Clay County School District launches new websites for the district and its schools to provide parents with information and events announcements. Florida Times-Union.

School threats: A 17-year-old student is arrested and accused of making several bomb threats against Central High School in Hernando County. Deputies say the girl made six threats against the school. WFLA. A 29-year-old man is arrested for making Facebook threats against Palm Beach County students. Palm Beach PostSun-Sentinel. Kik, Sarahah, BurnBook and Whisper are some of the lesser known apps students are using to make threats against schools. Florida Today.

Teacher hurt in fight: A teacher at Workman Middle School in Pensacola is hospitalized after trying to break up a fight. A 15-year-old student is being charged with felony battery. Pensacola News Journal.

Opinions on schools: We should be focusing on school safety and security instead of wasting time on false and irresponsible claims designed to distract us from the real issues. Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie, Sun-Sentinel. Lee County students say they don’t feel safe in their schools. We encourage our legislators to meet regularly with students about further enhancing school safety and addressing their concerns over behavioral health issues and prevention. Tom Hayden, Fort Myers News-Press. The fact that it makes sense to have more people carrying guns in schools to protect students and teachers from people with guns is a tragic statement about the times in which we live. Pat Rice, Daytona Beach News-Journal. The state’s definition of a “high impact” teacher is blurred by the Florida Department of Education’s mumbo-jumbo. Lauren Ritchie, Orlando Sentinel. Gov. Rick Scott’s claim of record spending for K-12 education for six straight years is half-true. The state’s total K-12 budget has indeed increased in raw dollars every year for the last six years. However, Scott is overstating the value of those dollars. The K-12 budget has not topped pre-recession levels when adjusted for inflation. PolitiFact Florida. Outside of Martin County, voters in other Florida counties seem willing to pay more in taxes for schools. Andrew Atterbury, TCPalm. Getting involved in the guardian program for schools may be tempting, but it’s a shortcut to safety fraught with downside. Daytona Beach News-Journal. The tenure of school board member is a decision best left to their constituents, not dictated by an arbitrary state time limit. Orlando Sentinel.

Student enrichment: Brown-Barge Middle School 8th-graders learn about issues facing society and how to raise money for nonprofits dealing with those issues at the Walk for a SIMPACT event. Pensacola News Journal. A record 75 high school students are graduating with their associate degrees in arts this summer from Santa Fe College through the dual enrollment program. Gainesville Sun.

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