State Sen. Hukill dies: State Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, a champion of education who served Volusia and Brevard counties in the Legislature for 14 years, died Tuesday at the age of 72. Just last week she announced she would not be running for re-election because her cancer had returned and she was entering hospice care. Hukill was the chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee and a longtime advocate for requiring students to take a course in financial literacy before graduation. Before entering politics, Hukill was a teacher and a lawyer. Florida Today. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Space Coast Daily. Miami Herald. Florida Times-Union. Orlando Sentinel. Associated Press. Politico Florida. Florida politicians react to Hukill’s death, and begin the search for a replacement to run for her Senate District 14 seat in the Nov. 6 election. Florida Politics. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Sunshine State News.
Florida tops for scholarships: Florida is ranked first in the country for its tax credit scholarship programs, according to a new report from the American Federation for Children. The tax credit scholarship program for the survey’s highest ranking out of 18 such programs nationwide, with high marks for required testing, background checks and financial reporting. It’s also the largest, with 108,000 students receiving scholarships last year. Across the United States, almost a half-million students were enrolled in private school choice programs during the 2016-2017 school year. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the tax credit scholarship program for the state. The 74.
School shooting developments: The Broward County school resource officer who was fired after not engaging with the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 is scheduled to testify Oct. 10 before the state panel investigating the killings. But Scot Peterson is also under criminal investigation for his conduct, and his lawyer would not comment when asked if Peterson would appear. Sun-Sentinel. Since the Stoneman Douglas shooting, schools around the country have been buying high-tech hardware and gadgets to improve security. But there’s no independent research supporting claims that it will save lives, according to two U.S. Justice Department reports from 2016. Associated Press.
Class size struggles: Several Pasco County schools are still struggling to meet the state’s class-size requirements, with hundreds of classrooms in the district over the class size caps. Assistant superintendent Kevin Shibley says, “We’re still making massive changes in the scheduling system” in hopes of reducing the problems by the state’s official 40-day count next week. Some classes may receive co-teachers, and the district is still trying to fill open teaching positions. The problem is most critical at Fivay High School, which absorbed former Ridgewood High students but did not fill all its teaching vacancies, leading to some classes with 42 or more students. Gradebook.
An abrupt end for school: A school that expanded from K-8 to high school in August will close the high school at the end of the school year, angering parents and leaving 36 freshmen to transfer. The Conservatory School at North Palm Beach began as a K-8 in 2014. In 2017, principal Teresa Stoupas lobbied then-superintendent Robert Avossa for approval to become a K-12 school, and says she got it. But the expansion was never approved by the school board, and does not appear on a list of expansion plans the state must approve. Avossa has declined comment. Palm Beach Post.
Teaching out of field: Fifty-three Pasco County teachers are now considered as out of field for teaching health classes that they are not certified to teach. The state required an expansion of health classes this year, and Pasco permitted physical education teachers who might otherwise have lost their jobs to teach those classes while pursuing certification. Now school board members and union officials worry that these teachers will end up without jobs if they don’t demonstrate a mastery of the material by the end of the school year. Gradebook.
Charter schools: Palm Beach County School Board members are being asked by district staff to approve three charter schools that would open next fall. The Covenant Arts Academy in Belle Glade and Somerset Academy of the Arts in Wellington would both combine elementary and middle schools and provide arts-based educations. Covenant projects 590 students by its fifth year, and Somerset 906. SLAM Academy High School would be located near West Palm Beach and offer instruction in sports medicine, broadcasting and marketing to as many as 800 students by its fifth year. District staff is recommending two other charter school applications be denied. Palm Beach Post.
Dual enrollment: Starting next year, State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota will stop offering dual enrollment courses for high school students on the campuses of Sarasota and Manatee County schools. A spokesperson says the college made the decision after finding “inconsistencies” in the academic quality of the programs located in the high schools. Dual enrollment will still be offered, but only online or at SCF. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Tax hike push: Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho says at a press conference that “there are no other options” to a property tax increase to raise money for higher teacher salaries and more school resource officers. If approved Nov. 6, the tax hike would raise about $232 million a year for four years. WLRN.
More therapists for students: The Duval County School Board approves an expansion of a contract with United Way of Northeast Florida to add 36 therapists into schools. The decision to spend $2.3 million will improve the therapist-to-school ratio from 26 for 75 schools to 26 for 57 schools. WJAX.
Educator honored: Mark Vianello, the executive director of career and technical education for the Marion County School District, is named the Florida Workforce partner of the year for his work in collaborating with businesses. Ocala Star-Banner.
Assistant coach arrested: The assistant wrestling coach at J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs is arrested and accused of soliciting sex from a minor. Police say Dustin Garvin, 32, who is also a micro technician at the school, made arrangements online to meet with an undercover officer posing as the father of a 14-year-old boy. Miami Herald.
Ex-teacher pleads innocence: A former teacher at Hammock Pointe Elementary School in Boca Raton denies having sex with a teenage relative at a wedding in Canada in 2017. Owen Headley was testifying at a hearing to determine if he will be released on bond while he awaits extradition to Ontario, where he faces charges of sexual assault, incest and sexual exploitation. Palm Beach Post.
Football coach fired: Mike Mincy is fired as Pensacola High School football coach for not properly supervising several players who assaulted a teammate. Mincy will continue teaching, but at a different school. WEAR.
Students arrested: A 9-year-old is arrested after taking a loaded handgun to Lauderhill Paul Turner Elementary School in Broward County and pointing it at three classmates. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. A 17-year-old Palm Beach Central High School student is arrested and accusing of threatening his previous school, Seminole Ridge High in Loxahatchee. Palm Beach Post. A Boynton Beach student is arrested and accused of making a social media threat of violence against an undisclosed school. Palm Beach County officials were alerted to the threat by a police department in New Jersey, where the post had been forwarded. Palm Beach Post. Three students at West Port High School in Ocala are arrested for taking Rice Krispie treats laced with marijuana to school. Ocala Star-Banner.
Two students hit by van: Two students from East Hill Academy in Pensacola are hospitalized after being hit by a van just after school let out. The injuries are not life-threatening. East Hill Academy is a school for students with autism. Police are investigating. Pensacola News Journal. WEAR.
Opinions on schools: The operator of a Florida private school that takes vouchers doesn’t pay its rent and stiffs its teachers, and eventually closes. You might think that would be the final chapter in this sorry story. But not in Florida. This operator is promptly given more tax money to try again. Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel. Christmas came early for 5th-graders at Vero Beach Elementary School, who were each allowed to pick 11 free books to keep as a reward for the school improving from an F grade to a C in 2017. Laurence Reisman, TCPalm.
Student enrichment: The Florida Council of Teachers of English names two Vernon High School students as first-place winners in writing contests. Junior Samantha Walston won the screenplay division, and sophomore Kimberly Frederick won the poetry division. Chipley Bugle. Janani Kumaran, a 14-year-old freshman at Gainesville High School, is chosen to compete in the Broadcom MASTERS science competition later this month in Washington, D.C. Gainesville Sun. More than 100 teachers at 38 Collier County school receive $66,867 in grants from Champions for Learning, a Collier County education foundation. Naples Daily News.