Florida schools roundup: Armed guards, training, amendment support and more

School security: Broward County School Board members express support for the hiring of armed “guardians” to protect schools that don’t have sworn resource officers. Board members say they would prefer the guardians to be retired police officers or military veterans. Most would be stationed in elementary schools. Sun-Sentinel. The Lake County School Board approves a security plan that will put a resource officer in every school and arm some school administrators. Daily Commercial. The Volusia County School District has paid 100 percent of the cost for having deputies at middle and high schools since 2008. But with the law now requiring an armed guard in every school, school officials are asking the county for help to hire armed guardians to cover elementary schools. Daytona Beach News-Journal. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has begun training more than 100 applicants to become armed guardians. Training includes handgun and rifle handling, how to engage active shooters and written tests. WFTS. WKMG. Lakeland Ledger. The Manatee County School Board is considering several changes to its student conduct code that are required by new state laws. The proposals revise the situations in which the district can send students to mental health agencies, when it can remove students through the Baker or Marchman acts, would broaden the definition of a threat to any of its schools, and would prohibit firearms from being stored in students’ vehicles. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota County school leaders meet with law enforcement officials today to discuss school security and the district’s proposal to start its own police force. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Northwest Florida school and law enforcement officials meet to share ideas on how to provide school security. Panama City News Herald.

Amendments support: Only four of the 13 constitutional amendments that will be on November’s ballot have the support needed to pass, according to a poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce. One of of the four is Amendment 8, which would limit school board members’ terms to eight years, require the teaching of civic literacy in public schools and establish an alternative path to approval for public and charter schools that does not involve local school districts. The poll indicated 75 percent support for Amendment 8. Sixty percent is required for passage. News Service of Florida.

Charter school authorizing: Forty-four states allow charter schools, and all but a handful allow an entity other than a local school board to establish those schools. Florida is one of them, according to a new policy brief from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. That could change if voters approve Amendment 8 in November. redefinED.

Superintendent search: Twelve people have applied to succeed Desmond Blackburn as superintendent of the Brevard County School District. The school board plans to trim the list today to finalists, hold interviews June 21 and 22, select a superintendent June 28 and then vote on a proposed contract at its July 10 meeting. Board members decided against a national search, and their preference is someone already with the district who can continue with Blackburn’s plan. Only three of the candidates work or have worked for the district, and only one – chief operating officer Mark Mullins – is in Blackburn’s cabinet of closest advisers. Florida Today. Fort Myers News-Press.

Budget issues: Hernando County Superintendent Lori Romano sends her budget priorities to the school board. Among them: school security to meet state mandates; a 5 percent raise for teachers and other employees; hiring 10 teacher mentors, seven speech and language pathologists, school psychologists and 15 special education teachers; the reinstatement of courtesy busing for students who live within 2 miles of their schools and the purchase of more buses; replacing 1,532 computers and providing wifi for all schools; and media specialists, music and art programs for all schools. Gradebook.

Active shooter insurance: Several Tampa Bay area school districts are considering buying active shooter insurance policies in case a school is attacked. The cost for a district of about 200,000 students, such as Hillsborough’s, would be about $100,000 a year. WTSP.

Board member resigning: Susan Valdes, a Hillsborough County School Board member since 2004, is resigning to run for the District 62 seat in the Florida House of Representatives. Her resignation takes effect Nov. 6. Valdes, 53, is a Democrat hoping to take over the west Tampa seat from Janet Cruz, who is leaving due to term limits. Tampa Bay Times.

Ex-coach arrested: A former volunteer flag football coach at Chiles High School in Tallahassee is arrested and accused of stalking a 17-year-old student. Leon sheriff’s deputies say Gary Kalvin Meyer, 55, slapped the student on the backside at practice in April, showed up at her house uninvited and asked her on a lunch date through phone texts. He was banned from the school in May. Tallahassee Democrat.

Opinions on schools: Any raise for St. Johns County teachers would be merit pay, pure and simple – only catching up, not getting ahead. By any measure, our teachers have proven their worth for a decade and more. We brag about our schools. We should better reward those who got us here. St. Augustine Record. Parents are not nearly so wedded to whether a school is “public” or “private” as to whether it will fit their own child’s needs. With nearly half of Florida’s students now choosing their schools, this much is clear: Parents are demanding all forms of customization. John Legg, The 74. There are 14 medical experts on the FHSAA’s 15-member medical advisory committee and they all say the same thing: make it mandatory for the tubs and thermometers at high school sports practices. How the FHSAA is ignoring that advice and wanting to give the control to the Legislature makes no sense. Fort Myers News-Press.

Student enrichment: Eve Glenn, who just graduated from Tampa’s Robinson High School as valedictorian, is named the U.S. Air Force military child of the year by the support group Operation Homefront. WUSF. Students from Flagler County schools win two events at the Future Problem Solving Program International Conference competitions in Wisconsin. Flagler Live. Hernando Central High School’s Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps state championship air rifle team is one of 27 U.S. teams invited to compete in the national JROTC matches next week in Ohio. Tampa Bay Times. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teacher Gabe Stewart is competing on the TV show American Ninja Warrior this week to “see his students smile again.” Sun-Sentinel.

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