Florida schools roundup: Rules for scholarships, special session and more

Scholarship rules: The Florida Department of education proposes rules for two new state scholarships. A one-page set of rules is proposed to determine eligibility for bullied students to receive state scholarships to attend new schools. The Hope Scholarship would be available for students who report being bullied or attacked. If they win approval, students could take the scholarship money and enroll in a private school or use it for transportation to another public school. A requirement that families substantiate the incident for which they are seeking a voucher has been removed. The other scholarship provides tutoring help for struggling elementary school readers. The Florida Board of Education has a public workshop June 6 to discuss the rules. Gradebook. Politico Florida.

Special session polling: Early polling results show a lack of support among legislators to call a special session to deal with education funding, according to Department of State officials. As of late Monday afternoon, 27 Florida House members supported a special session, while 36 opposed. Seven senators back the move, and six do not. Three-fifths of each chamber must support the request, made by two Democratic representatives, in order for a special session to be called. That means 70 yes votes in the House and 23 in the Senate. Polling ends Thursday at noon. News Service of Florida.

Virtual teachers out: Twelve out-of-state Florida Virtual School (FLVS) teachers and support staff were dismissed Friday. FLVS officials announced earlier this month that they intended to bring all jobs back into Florida, and gave 33 out-of-state employees a few days to decide if they would relocate. FLVS spokeswoman Tania Clow says some employees “decided to relocate, others retired and others took positions with FLVS Global.” WKMG. A technical glitch takes FLVS offline for hours on Monday. WKMG.

School security: Central Florida schools are boosting security for the last week of classes, and school boards in several of the counties continue to discuss ways to provide armed security in every school starting in August. WMFE. Franklin County School Superintendent Traci Moses says the district will be able to pay for school resource officers (SRO) at least through the end of the calendar year. WOYS. The city of Fort Myers says its half of the cost to hire SROs is $850,000. Fort Myers News-Press. The Bay County School District needs to hire 19 SROs to cover all its schools. WJHG. Florida Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, says the Brevard County School Board needs to reconsider its decision against arming school personnel. “How many lives are these politicians willing to sacrifice?” asks Fine. Florida Today. Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson says he’s filing a bill to hire more mental health professionals in schools. Orlando Sentinel. Since the Parkland shootings Feb. 14, 14 states have introduced legislation to arm teachers or other school employees. Only Florida has passed such a law. CNN.

Raise proposed: The Broward County school administrator who oversees the controversial Promise program for alternative discipline is in line for a $24,000-a-year raise in salary and benefits. Mickey Pope, who makes $149,389 as executive director of student support services, would get an title upgrade to chief of student support services and report directly to the superintendent instead of the chief academic officer. The school board must approve. Sun-Sentinel.

Superintendent search: Manatee County School Board members meet today to begin talking about the process for replacing Superintendent Diana Greene, who is taking the same job in Duval County starting July 1. They hope to pick an interim superintendent within a month and establish the criteria for a search. Board chairman Scott Hopes says he wants the board to establish a strategic plan over the next six months before beginning the search. Bradenton HeraldSarasota Herald-Tribune.

Contract negotiations: The Hillsborough County School District is now offering its 18,500 teachers and support workers raises that would cost the district $36 million. The union has problems with some of the details, and the sides are scheduled to meet again Wednesday. Tampa Bay Times.

Librarians cut back: U.S. school districts have lost about 20 percent of their librarians and media specialists since 2000, according to an Education Week Research Center analysis of federal data. There were about 54,000 in 2000, and there were fewer than 44,000 in 2015. Miami-Dade has lost 206, or 56 percent of its total, Broward 106 (down 45 percent), Pasco 78 (100 percent), Duval 73 (51 percent) and Polk 47 (39 percent). Education Week.

School board elections: Abby Freedman, who has been on the Broward County School Board since 2012, announces she will not run for re-election Aug. 28. Her decision comes just a few days after Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter died in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings, said she was in the race. Sun-Sentinel.

Personnel moves: Lake County school officials announce three administrative changes: Scott Ward takes over from Karen Briggs as chief financial officer, Briggs is now director of finance, and Stephanie Mayuski, principal at East Ridge Middle School, is named regional executive director for Region 3. Daily Commercial.

Pedestrian safety: Parents from the Westchase community convince the Hillsborough County Commission to add safety measures at a busy intersection. Those students had been getting bused under the school district’s courtesy program, but that is being eliminated. Tampa Bay Times.

School road closing: The Sarasota City Commission agrees with the school board that School Avenue, which runs through the campus of Sarasota High School, should be closed to the public from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. when school is in session. The restrictions go into effect when school starts in August. Both agencies call it a security and safety measure. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Land buy considered: Bay County School District officials want to buy Bayside Church, across the street from Bay High School, and tear it down to put in a parking lot for the school, the proposed fine arts center at the school and Tommy Oliver Stadium. The school board will consider the $750,000 purchase today. Panama City News Herald.

Teacher-coach removed: Eric Hill, a teacher and swimming coach at Boca Raton High School, has been removed while the Palm Beach County School District police investigate him for undisclosed reasons, according to a school district spokesperson. Palm Beach Post.

Student arrested: A 14-year-old Crestview High School student is arrested and accused of threatening to shoot up the Okaloosa County school. Northwest Florida Daily News.

School shooting charges: Sky Bouche, the 19-year-old accused of wounding a student in a shooting April 20 at Forest High School in Ocala, is formally charged with five crimes that could lead to a life sentence if he’s convicted. Ocala Star-Banner.

School bus crashes: A Leon County driver is killed when his car veers across the yellow lines and slams head-on into a school bus that was taking two students to Roberts Elementary School and another to Montford Elementary. The students and the bus driver were treated for minor injuries. WTXL. Tallahassee Democrat. One Bay County school bus driver runs into the back of another school bus, pushing it into the back end of a car. Eighty-three students were in the buses; two were transported to hospitals for treatment of minor injuries. Panama City News HeraldNorthwest Florida Daily News.

Opinions on schools: At low-income Dodgertown Elementary School in Vero Beach, the term “at risk” has been abandoned and replaced with “at hope.” Laurence Reisman, TCPalm. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham said Friday that more students have been killed this year in schools than soldier in war zones. Twenty-six students and 13 soldiers have been killed through May 18, making her statement Mostly True because it lacks the context of death rate, which shows that the likelihood of being killed in a combat zone is still vastly higher than it is in a school. PolitiFact Florida. Social and emotional learning should be a critical aspect of any school’s mission. Ernest Hooper, Tampa Bay Times.

Student enrichment: Paloma Rambana, a 12-year-old 7th-grader at the Maclay School in Tallahassee, is named one of America’s top 10 youth volunteers of 2018 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards in Washington, D.C. Her activism helped secure $1.25 million in state funding to help children who are visually impaired. Tallahassee Democrat. A nearly year-long campaign by Gulf Breeze High School teacher Erin Cosky and three of her students results in 286 square feet of solar panels being installed on a shed at the Santa Rosa County school. Pensacola News Journal. Seven middle school students from Viera Charter School compete this week in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in Iowa. Florida Today. The Lake County School District is named a Florida Healthy School District for the second time. Daily Commercial. Two Escambia County schools win awards from the Society of Health and Physical Education as the top physical education programs in Florida. Winning their categories are Beulah Elementary and Ferry Pass Middle. WEAR.

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