Florida schools roundup: Superintendent hirings and firing, security and more

New superintendents: Mark Mullins, the Brevard County School District’s chief operating officer, is named superintendent. The school board was scheduled to whittle down a list of 12 candidates and conduct interviews next week. Instead, all five board members selected Mullins as the only candidate everyone wanted as a finalist, and chose to forgo the rest of the process. Mullins, who has worked for the district since 1994, replaces Desmond Blackburn, who is leaving this summer to become chief executive officer of the national education nonprofit New Teacher Center. Florida Today. Space Coast Daily. The Manatee County School Board is negotiating with Cynthia Saunders, deputy superintendent of instructional services, to serve as interim superintendent. She’ll take over temporarily for Diana Greene, who leaves July 1 for the same job in Duval County. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Old superintendent: In a 3-2 vote, the Hernando County School Board has fired Superintendent Lori Romano. Board member Beth Narverud initiated the move, saying she was concerned about “a multitude of misinformation, half-truths and urgent, last-minute decisions thrust upon” the board by Romano. Linda Prescott, who cast the deciding vote, says Romano’s firing of all 47 teachers at the struggling Moton Elementary School without first notifying the board or teachers union convinced her it was time for a change. Board attorney Dennis Alfonso says the board will explain its reasoning in an official termination letter at its June 26 meeting. Tampa Bay Times. Earlier Tuesday, a lawyer apparently representing Romano threatened legal action against school board members Susan Duval and Narverud for “failing to meet” the requirements of Romano’s evaluation. “Several of you have attempted to publicly humiliate and needlessly and irreparably injure the reputation of the superintendent,” wrote Kathryn McHale. Gradebook.

School security: Sarasota County school officials acknowledge they won’t be able to form a district police department by the time schools resume in August, and instead will negotiate with law enforcement agencies to provide resource officers for all 23 district elementary schools. Sarasota Herald-TribuneWWSB. The Volusia County School Board approves a plan to hire 44 armed security guards to protect elementary schools. Thirty-two sworn resource officers are assigned to the county’s middle and high schools. Daytona Beach News-Journal. More than 300 people have applied to become armed school safety assistants for the Duval County School District. The district will be hiring 105 to protect elementary schools, at a starting pay of $12.50 an hour with summers off. WJXTWJCT. Florida Times-Union. Palm Beach Gardens city officials agree to have police officers patrol four elementary schools in the city until the Palm Beach County School District can take over. Palm Beach Post. Citrus County commissioners agree to provide $1.1 million to the sheriff’s office so it can assign resource officers to schools. Citrus County Chronicle. The Gilchrist County School Board approves a plan to arm some school employees under the state’s school guardians program. WCJB. Bay County School District officials are renovating the front office spaces of Rutherford High School and Tyndall Elementary School so each will have single-access entry and exit. WJHG.

No ice tubs required: The Florida High School Athletic Association says it won’t require schools to have ice tubs and wet-bulb globe thermometers that measure heat stress onsite during practices unless it is ordered to by the Legislature. The FHSAA made the decision in spite of its own Sports Medicine Advisory Committee’s recommendation to provide both. Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, says she’ll draft legislation requiring the special equipment. Fort Myers News-Press. WINK.

Reporting crimes: Broward County School Board members want the district to begin fully reporting all student crimes to the state. The district has not been doing so, saying the data sent has been only of “the most serious of incidents, while other incidents are recorded and addressed locally.” The board also agreed to pay $900,000 to a security consulting firm to identify security flaws at each of the 234 schools in the district. Sun-Sentinel.

Budget issues: Duval County school officials present a plan to the school board that cut $62 million from next year’s budget. Among the proposals: trimming administration operations costs and about 50 jobs, changing middle schools to a traditional seven-period day from the current block schedule, changing the frequency of arts, music and physical education classes and more. The board will consider the proposals over the summer. WOKV. WJXT.

ESSA and accountability: Florida is one of at least three states that has not merged its accountability system with the federal government’s under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Florida does not include English-language-proficiency exam scores as required by ESSA, so the state will continue to receive two accountability ratings, one from the federal government as well as its own. Education Week.

Report cards delayed: Report cards were supposed to be out in Bay County today, but school officials say they are being delayed because the state has yet to release its end-of-course exam reports. The state has until June 30 to release the reports. Panama City News Herald.

New schools: The Palm Beach County School Board will be asked next week to approve more than $50 million in school construction in Boca Raton. Verde Elementary would be rebuilt, Addison Mizner Elementary’s campus would be expanded and an elementary school would be built next to Don Estridge High Tech Middle. Sun-Sentinel.

School board elections: Three candidates will challenge incumbent Maggie Lewis-Butler for the District 3 seat on the Leon County School Board. They are Darryl Jones, Donna Hayes-Austin and Charles Williams. In District 1, Ricky Bell and Patty Thomas-Ball will run against incumbent Alva Striplin. In District 5, Marcus Nicolas is challenging current board member Georgia Bowen. Tallahassee Democrat. WFSU. Businessman Steve Cona is running for the District 1 seat on the Hillsborough County School Board that Susan Valdes is resigning from in order to compete for a Florida House seat. Gradebook. School security and teacher raises are the main topics of discussion at a candidate forum for Brevard County School Board candidates. Florida Today.

Reading scores: Holmes County 3rd-graders continue to improve on the language arts portion of the Florida Standards Assessments tests. This year 57 percent of them passed with a Level 3 score or higher. It was 56 percent in 2017, 55 percent in 2016 and 44 percent in 2015. Holmes County Times Advertiser.

Opinions on schools: High school administrators don’t need another educational flyer to remind them how hot Florida is and that athletes need water. They need ice, large buckets of water and a state association reminding them that training for high school sports shouldn’t be a matter of life and death. Shannon Green, Orlando Sentinel. Some of the recent discussions by elected leaders about paying for school-based law enforcement officers have been disheartening because they’ve focused on whose responsibility it is to pay for these school protectors rather than approaching it as an opportunity to better safeguard young people and educators. Public safety is a fundamental reason we have government in the first place. Naples Daily News. Withlacoochee Technical College’s funding cut due to a formula based upon past student enrollment rather than future demand is shortsighted in that it only serves to widen the skills gap and hinder students from preparing for career workplace opportunities. Citrus County Chronicle.

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