Florida schools roundup: Security measures, nation’s report card and more

School security: The Broward County School Board accepts Superintendent Robert Runcie’s recommendation and votes unanimously against participating in the state’s guardian program to arm specified school employees. The district will ask the state if it can redirect money from the guardian program to hire resource officers. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. The state will send Duval County $4 million for school safety, but interim superintendent Patricia Willis says the district needs $14 million to place a resource officer in every school. Florida Times-Union. Palm Beach County School Superintendent Donald Fennoy is planning to restructure the district’s police force, which includes choosing a new chief and adding 75 officers to the 150 it has now. Palm Beach Post. Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey, who had strongly pushed the school board to participate in the guardian program, is now recommending against it, and Superintendent Desmond Blackburn says he agrees. Ivey says he’s worried the debate about arming school employees is overshadowing the more important need for resource officers in every school. Florida Today. Polk County school officials are considering hiring armed security guards for their schools. “Basically, what we’re doing is creating our own police force,” says Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd. Lakeland Ledger. To meet state mandates on school security, many Florida districts are shifting money from other projects, including instructional, dipping into reserves or contemplating borrowing. Reuters.

More on report card: While most of the nation had so-so results on the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading and mathematics assessments, also known as the nation’s report card, Florida students outperformed their peers in grades 4 and 8 reading and grade 4 math, and was the only state to show improvements in three of the four categories. Three large Florida districts — Miami-Dade, Duval and Hillsborough — also ranked among the leaders of the 27 that participated in a trial urban district assessment. Here’s the full NAEP report and highlights. Florida Times-Union. WJCT. WJXTredefinED. Miami HeraldThe 74Florida Governor’s Office. What’s Florida doing that other states could emulate? Education Week. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos praises Florida as a “bright spot” in NAEP testing, but pointing to the stagnant scores and a widening achievement gap, says “we can and we must do better for America’s students.” Education Week. Politico Florida.

School tax measures: The Orange County School Board unanimously gives the go-ahead to put an extension of a special 1-mill property tax for schools on the ballot Aug. 28. Voters approved the tax in 2010 and again in 2014. If it passes, the tax would generate about $622 million through 2023 to help pay for teacher raises and various academic programs, school officials say. Orlando Sentinel. The Martin County School Board may consider asking voters for both an increase in the sales tax for building and repairing schools and in property taxes for school security and teacher raises. TCPalm. The property tax increase approved by Manatee County voters last month could bring in more than $37 million a year for schools instead of the projected $33 million, school officials say. Bradenton Herald.

School impact fees: Seminole County commissioners vote to allow developers of single-family homes and apartments to pay the old, lower school impact fees for the next 18 months instead of the higher ones that took effect Tuesday. The school district objected to the change, saying it would lose $16.8 million in revenue. Orlando Sentinel.

Ouster vote denied: Manatee County School Board chairman Scott Hopes kills a vote on a motion to remove him from the chair, calling it an “illegal move” that was “out of order.” The school board attorney called the motion legal, but another motion to appeal Hopes’ decision was not supported and the measure died. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School shooting developments: Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis says the Obama administration’s “liberal policy” on overlooking crimes by young people was the reason Nikolas Cruz wasn’t arrested and convicted before the Parkland school shootings. “Because the policy was we don’t want to get this individual in the justice system, it’s not good for statistics,” DeSantis claims. Florida Politics.

Student walkout: Hundreds of Miami Northwestern High School students stage a walkout to protest against gun violence. Last weekend, their classmate Kimson Green, a 17-year-old sophomore, and former Northwestern student Rickey Dixon, 18, were shot and killed. Miami Herald.

Charter schools vote delayed: Leon County School Board members delay a vote on two charter school applications, saying they need more time to review the material. Superintendent Rocky Hanna is recommending the applications be denied because they schools aren’t needed and he doesn’t want to  stretch resources to accommodate them. Both charters meet the Florida Department of Education standards, say school officials, and the schools can appeal to the DOE if the Leon board rejects their applications. Tallahassee Democrat. WFSU.

School start times: The Pinellas County School Board approves a proposal to make most school start times later for the 2018-2019 school year. Most high schools will start at 7:20 a.m. instead of 7:05, elementary schools at 8:45 instead of 8:35, and middle schools at 9:40 instead of 9:30. Joanne Lentino was the only board member voting against the proposal, saying the extra $900,000 the district will spend to make the change is not worth it. Tampa Bay Times.

District rezoning plan: West Pasco County residents speak out at a public hearing against Superintendent Kurt Browning’s proposed rezoning of school boundaries, saying they’re too disruptive and do little to solve overcrowding at some schools. They’re asking the district to provide other alternatives. The school board is scheduled to vote on the proposal May 1. Gradebook.

Superintendent evaluated: Lee County School Superintendent Greg Adkins is praised in an evaluation by school board members for his work ethic, hiring decisions and for carrying out the district’s strategic plan. Fort Myers News-Press.

Personnel moves: A Sarasota County school administrator who accused Superintendent Todd Bowden of sexual harassment and discrimination is one of six administrators who have been told their contracts will not be renewed. Lyna Jimenez-Ruiz, an assistant principal at Booker High School whose complaint was determined to be unfounded by an independent investigator, says she’s not surprised. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School board elections: Former teacher Nick Guy announces his candidacy for the District 5 seat on the Sarasota County School Board. The incumbent is Bridget Ziegler, who says she plans to run for re-election. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Teachers honored: Twelve Washington County teachers are honored by the state as “high impact” teachers. They are: Tami Parish, Agnes Harmon, Heidi Kirkland, Taura Brock, Lajuana Malloy, Melissa Witson, Ashley Kilpatrick, Carmen Riviere, Tiffany Steverson, Sally Brock, William Wiggins and Kimberly Tuel. Foster Folly News.

Property costs: The mayor of Gulf Breeze wants to stop the already-approved sale of land to the Santa Rosa County School District after a property appraisal comes in at 90 percent more than the agreed-upon sale price of $1.9 million. Pensacola News Journal.

Courses being cut: The St. Johns County School District is cutting courses at First Coast Technical College that are offered outside the county. The district says no new classes will be started in Clay and Putnam counties, but students now enrolled will be allowed to finish. School officials cite legislative action for the decision. St. Augustine Record.

Alternative education: The Monroe County School District opens an alternative classroom at the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter’s Marvin M. Jelsema Center on Plantation Key to help troubled students get back on track toward graduation. Key West Citizen.

School in boil water alert: Sebastian River High School in under a 72-hour boil-water alert after an underground water leak is found beneath the Indian River County school’s gymnasium. TCPalm.

Ex-coach’s suicide: A former Treasure Coast High School assistant football coach who was under investigation for inappropriate sexual conduct with a student commits suicide. Port St. Lucie police say Devin Malloy, 34, shot himself. Malloy was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach before resigning in November. TCPalm.

Administrator enters plea: Henry Kelley, the Okaloosa County School District’s director of community affairs, pleads no contest to a misdemeanor charge of violating the state’s Sunshine Law. Kelley was charged after releasing a formal complaint against a former district administrator to a reporter. In his plea, Kelley offered to pay the $500 fine and court costs. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Resignation accepted: The Citrus County School Board accepts the resignation of Dayanna Volitich, a Crystal River Middle School teacher who hosted a podcast in which she expressed racist views under a pseudonym. Citrus County Chronicle.

Ex-school bus driver fired: A Manatee County school bus driver who was convicted of soliciting a prostitute is fired. Jerome Heaven had been placed in a job away from students after his conviction in February. Bradenton Herald.

Substitute arrested: A Volusia County substitute teacher is arrested and accused of trying to arrange a sexual rendezvous with what he thought was a 13-year-old girl but was really an undercover detective. Bruce Corbin Krupa, 24, who also worked part-time at Disney World, has been removed from the Volusia substitute list. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Orlando Sentinel.

Teacher accused in assault: A 15-year-old Robert E. Lee High School student claims she was grabbed by a teacher who slammed her head in a door and then threw her into a hallway. Duval County school officials say they are investigating the allegation. WJAX.

Opinions on schools: Schools shouldn’t be put in a position of making teachers pack heat and tourniquets because lawmakers lack the courage to strengthen gun regulations. Gainesville Sun. It should alarm all of us that the governor and Legislature have rigged school spending in a way that virtually guarantees that teacher salaries, and the quality of education for today’s schoolchildren, won’t be improving any time soon. Palm Beach Post. Let’s hope we don’t lose our collective heads over these NAEP scores, and do not see a new policy obsession with standardized testing outcomes like we experienced under No Child Left Behind. Instead, let’s let individual educators and parents — who value so many things — choose what they think is most important in education. Neal McCluskey, Cato Institute. Scott Hopes has been a divisive figure on the Manatee County School Board, and should step down as chairman. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Vaping is creating a new dilemma at schools. Terri Friedlander, Tallahassee Democrat.

Student enrichment: A team from the Pine View School in Osprey is one of just six to qualify for a national math competition April 30. Chloe Harris, Tristan Lee, Dylan Hull, Sarah Mihm and Zoe McDonald spent 14 hours using math modeling to calculate ways to reduce food insecurity. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. A team from Indian Trails Middle School in Palm Coast qualifies for the international Future Problem Solving competition in Wisconsin. Team members are Isabella Colindres, Sean Gilliam, Paul Grau and Madelynn Oliva. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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