Florida schools roundup: District’s deal with hospital, school security and more

District-hospital deal: The Volusia County School District and a local hospital reach an unusual agreement that gives the hospital advertising rights in the district in exchange for health care services and education for students. The program will be known as the Florida Hospital Healthy Futures Program of Volusia County Schools. District officials call the deal “a first of its kind agreement between a school district and major health care provider that will serve as a national model.” The contract is for five years and requires Florida Hospital to pay $200,000 a year and provide $1 million of in-kind services. Florida Hospital becomes the district’s “Official Health Care Champion,” and will have direct involvement in the district’s 15 health care academies and programs, support athletic teams and physical trainers and provide health care services to students at 36 schools with high student absenteeism. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

School security: Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has rejected a request to provide 50 deputies on overtime to patrol dozens of elementary schools, and district officials now say they will consider hiring private security guards. Palm Beach Post. A report from Sarasota School Superintendent Todd Bowden that an agreement was reached with the sheriff’s office to provide school resource officers is refuted by the sheriff. District officials later said it was just an idea being floated, and that the district will go ahead with its plan to create its own police department. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Paul Grohowski, the new Sarasota County School District’s police chief, has made decisions in his past three jobs that caused controversy. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Leon County school officials say they have a deal to pay the sheriff’s office $1.9 million to provide resource officers for 30 schools, and will spend $1 million to hire off-duty officers for the remaining 18 elementary schools. Tallahassee Democrat. The city of Cape Coral is considering ways to help Lee County put an armed school resource officer in each of the city’s schools. The cost for the 23 officers needed will be more than $1 million a year. WFTX. Like public schools, Catholic schools are struggling to find the money to provide security for students. redefinED.

Attendance data: An analysis of federal records on school attendance indicates that the apparent surge in U.S. students’ chronic absenteeism reported in a recent Civil Rights Data Collection report is due more to improved reporting by states than a real increase. Still, chronic absenteeism is a problem in every state, with some schools in each state reporting 10 percent or more of their students missing three or more weeks of school during the 2015-2016 school year. More than 20 percent of students in eight states and the District of Columbia were considered chronic absentees. In Florida, the percentage was 18.1. Brookings Institution.

School counseling: The Palm Beach County School District is looking to end its contract with Motivational Coaches of America, which promised to put mental health counselors in 39 middle and seven alternative schools but has been unable to do so because of high employee turnover. Many of the coaches quit because they say they haven’t been getting paid. Palm Beach Post.

Douglas High PTSA suspended: The parent teacher student association at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been suspended by the state organization while an audit of its finances is conducted. A letter from the Florida PTA letter to parent leaders of the PTSA indicated it wasn’t following the state’s standards of affiliation. The Stoneman Douglas PTSA must turn over all financial records and minutes from meetings, may not meet for two months, and must stop spending and raising money. The organization has played a large role in collecting donations after the shootings at the school. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. WLRN.

Financial oversight: The Manatee County School District’s Citizens Financial Advisory Committee meets today to redefine its mission after the school board cuts back the committee’s oversight. Board member Charlie Kennedy says the original mandate was too broad. Board chairman Scott Hopes objected to the change, and suggested it was put forward by administrators who didn’t want anyone looking over their shoulders. The school district promised a committee would provide financial oversight to the district when it asked voters last spring to approve a tax hike for schools. Bradenton Herald.

Memorial items moved: Items that were left at Stoneman Douglas High as a memorial to the 17 who were killed by a gunman there Feb. 14 are moved to Florida Atlantic University. Sun-Sentinel.

Testing results database: A newspaper sets up a database with scores from state districts on the Florida Standards Assessments tests, to compare against other districts and against the state average. Florida Today.

School board elections: Former Hernando County commissioner Diane Rowden, 68, announces she is running for the District 3 seat on the school board. Julius Blazys, Jimmy Ladato and Lucille Moskal-Ketcham are also in the race to succeed Beth Narverud, who is running for the county commission. Gradebook. Bill Person, who had announced his candidacy for the District 6 seat in the Hillsborough County School Board, changes his mind and is now running for the District 1 seat. Gradebook.

Schools honored: St. Lucie County’s Morningside Elementary School is chosen as Florida’s elementary school of the year for energy achievement, and is also the national runnerup. TCPalm. Nine schools win 2018 Family and Community Involvement Awards from the Florida Department of Education. They are: Killearn Lakes Elementary, Leon County; Thomas L. Sims Middle, Santa Rosa; Callahan Intermediate, Nassau; Minneola Elementary, Lake; Denn John Middle, Osceola; Hudson Elementary and Gulf Middle, Pasco; Poinciana Elementary, Monroe; and Woodlands Community Middle, Palm Beach. Capitol SoupWFSU.

Monitor’s punishment: Broward County School Board chairwoman Nora Rupert says she doubts members knew the circumstances of the case when they approved a three-day suspension for a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School monitor and coach who was accused of sexually harassing students in 2017. She says they rarely receive details about disciplinary actions. That monitor, Andrew Medina, saw a school shooter arrive on campus Feb. 14 but failed to do anything to stop him or lock down the school. School investigators recommended firing Medina, but that was later reduced to a suspension. Sun-Sentinel.

Prostitution inquiry: Leon County school officials say they are looking into a report from a former teacher that a Lincoln High School football player ordered a prostitute during a recruiting trip to Georgia. The former teacher, Colby West, says he was contacted about the incident by a parent. Tallahassee Democrat.

Opinions on schools: Sarasota’s school district should focus on its mission — educating students — and let law enforcement officers protect schools. Sarasota County School Board chairwoman Bridget Ziegler, Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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