Florida schools roundup: Superintendent resigning, security in schools and more

School superintendents: Desmond Blackburn, superintendent of the Brevard County School District since June 2015, is resigning to become the CEO of the California-based New Teacher Center, a national nonprofit that trains and mentors new teachers. Blackburn’s last day is no later than Aug. 10. The school board will discuss its search for a new superintendent at a meeting today. The highlights of Blackburn’s tenure include a restructuring of district operations, scaling back teacher evaluations and district-required testing, and developing a new discipline policy. Florida Today. Space Coast Daily. Spectrum News 13. Viera Voice. WKMG. Sun-Sentinel. The Duval County School Board picks three finalists for its superintendent’s job: Diana Greene, Manatee County superintendent; Erick Pruitt, area superintendent of Houston schools; and Michael Dunsmore, superintendent of Wayne County schools in North Carolina. Interview are this week and a decision could be announced as early as 4 p.m. Friday. Florida Times-Union. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School security: Volusia County school officials are now considering hiring 44 armed “school marshals” for each of their elementary schools. Hiring marshals, who would not have the authority to make arrests, would save the district more than $1 million a year because they would work only during the school year. Daytona Beach News-Journal. The Cape Coral City Council commits $1 million to help pay for 22 resource officers so every city school will be covered. Fort Myers News-Press. Just a few days after creating positions for security guards, the Pasco County School District has begun hiring. Nine offers for the jobs of guarding elementary schools have been made, and another 28 have been approved but are awaiting background checks. The district plans to hire 53 guards and a security director. Gradebook. Stanley Switlik Elementary School in Key West will get a school resource officer from the sheriff for the last two weeks of school. Next year the school district will be responsible for the officer, says Sheriff Rick Ramsay. Florida Keys Weekly.

A district’s plan: Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins’ reorganization of the school district calls for cutting 838 district jobs, reducing the district’s number of administrative areas from eight to five, and creating a bureaucracy to support 49 struggling schools. Eakins also plans to initiate a discussion with the school board today about asking voters for a tax referendum. Gradebook. WTSP.

Special session request: Two more legislators, both Democrats from south Florida, are calling for a special session of the Legislature to increase funding for K-12 public schools. Rep. Shevrin Jones of West Park and Rep. Nicholas Duran of Miami say school funding is inadequate, especially considering the new state requirements for school security. Associated PressFlorida Politics. Politico Florida.

Charter schools: The Flagler County School Board is expected to decide today whether to terminate the charter with Palm Harbor Academy in Palm Coast. Superintendent Jim Tager is recommending the school be given its 90-day closure notice, citing poor accountability and record-keeping and the shifting of more than a dozen struggling students to a private school on the same property, a move that Tager says is meant to keep them from taking standardized tests and lowering the school’s grade from the state. Flagler Live. The Sarasota County School Board will consider applications today for two charter schools: Pinecrest Academy Gulf Coast, a proposed K-8 charter school Miami-based nonprofit Pinecrest Academy Inc.; and Dreamers Academy, a Spanish-English immersion program. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Home-schooling information: A home-schooling advocacy group sends a letter to every state school district superintendent reminding them that a new state law prohibits them from asking for any information about a home-schooled child other than her or his name, address and birthdate. Some districts have asked for more, parents say. redefinED.

School schedules tweaked: Students in Pasco County high schools and middle schools will have their daily schedules adjusted to make sure each school has the same amount of instruction time. That could mean different start and finish times, or less time between classes or for lunch. The changes are being made so that any adjustment needed for schools closing for an emergency, such as a hurricane, will be uniform for all schools. Gradebook.

Teacher honored: The Leesburg High School media center is being renamed in honor of Tammy Jerkins, a 1977 graduate and Florida’s 2017 teacher of the year. Orlando Sentinel.

Dispute resolution office: The Pasco County School District is creating a dispute resolution office by August to handle complaints from the public. It’s borrowing the idea from the Broward County School District. It will be run by Hilda Martin, principal of James Marlowe Elementary School. Tampa Bay Times.

Education and politics: Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam’s proposed expansion of technical and vocational programs for Florida’s K-12 students includes more apprenticeship programs for students, computer coding classes in high schools, giving students college credits for their vocational education, and giving businesses more say on the kinds of courses offered. Associated Press. Panama City News Herald.

School board elections: Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina died in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings on Feb. 14, says he is running for a seat on the Broward County School Board. He did not specify which seat he is seeking. He joins Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa Alhadeff was also killed, as a candidate. Sun-SentinelPolitico Florida. Richard Linden, a 64-year-old substitute teacher in Venice and Charlotte County, is running for the Sarasota County School Board District 5 seat currently held by Jane Goodwin, who is running for re-election. Also in the race is Pamela Gavette, a substitute teacher in Venice. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Street closing protested: Some residents in the area around Sarasota High School are protesting the proposed daily closure of School Avenue, which splits the campus. School officials say it’s a security issue, and want the road closed between 6:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. on days when school is in session. Residents in two neighborhoods nearest to the school have written letters opposing it. The school board is expected to vote on the proposal today. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Room for improvement: The St. Johns County School District could improve its use of digital learning tools for students and add more communication across technological platforms between the district and the larger community, according to an audit by the nonprofit agency AdvancED. Otherwise, the audit found the district and its systems to be generally sound. St. Augustine Record.

Teacher’s firing upheld: The Duval County School Board upholds the firing of one teacher and the suspension of another. Jason Perry, a math teacher at Robert E. Lee High and Raines High, was fired after being arrested four times and missing 58 days during the 2016-2017 school year. Stephanie Stripling-Mitchell, a 2nd-grade teacher at Hyde Grove Elementary, was suspended 10 days without pay for pinning a boy by his chest and throat against a dry-erase board. Florida Times-Union.

Three hit by car: Three girls are injured when they’re hit by a car while trying to cross a street to get to Jesse Keen Elementary School in Lakeland. None of the injuries are life-threatening. The driver was cited for violation of a traffic control device. Lakeland Ledger.

Opinions on schools: We haven’t exhausted all ideas for how we make our children safer. All we have done so far is to layer new public expenditure on top of old ways of doing business, even as our priorities have suddenly changed. Bob Gabordi, Florida Today. County and school district officials have only themselves to blame if school opens in August with some campuses protected and others vulnerable. Lauren Ritchie, Orlando Sentinel. The Marion County School Board is the recipient of misdirected anger of parents of children who attend Evergreen Elementary School. It is not the responsibility of the school district, teachers, administrators, counselors, support personnel, volunteers, businesses or dozens of local, state and federally funded programs to raise and prepare your child for a public education. Daryl B. Case, Ocala Star-Banner.

Student enrichment: WaterVentures, Florida’s mobile learning lab, gives students at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics in Hernando County an up-close view of an underwater cave in the Florida aquifer. Tampa Bay Times. The Hard Rock Hotel is donating 20 new Fender Squire Stratocaster guitars to Volusia County schools. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Umatilla High School is receiving a $31,000 grant from the Educational Foundation of Lake County to provide training in the field of aviation and aerospace. Daily Commercial.

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