Florida schools roundup: Blue Ribbon schools, A/C help, wish list and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Blue Ribbon schools: Twelve Florida schools are among 349 across the United States chosen as National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education. Schools earn the designation through high achievement or by closing the achievement gaps for disadvantaged students. The Florida schools honored are: A.D. Henderson University School and FAU High School in Boca Raton; Colleen Bevin Elementary in Lithia; Lorenzo Walker Technical High School and Seagate Elementary in Naples; West Shore Junior/Senior High in Melbourne; George Washington Carver Middle, Herbert Ammons Middle and Archimedean Upper Conservatory in Miami; Tarpon Springs Fundamental Elementary; Stanton College Preparatory School in Jacksonville; Pensacola Beach Elementary; and the Somerset Academy Elementary in Miramar. redefinED. Space Coast Daily. Boca News NowU.S. Department of Education.

A/C help discussion: The Hillsborough County Commission is expected to “discuss collaborating with the Hillsborough County School District to explore ways the county can help expedite urgently needed upgrades to school air-conditioners and other vital building infrastructure” at its meeting Wednesday. The school district has a growing backlog of schools with A/C problems and other issues, and is asking voters Nov. 6 to approve a half-cent increase in the sales tax to raise $1.31 billion over 10 years for maintenance and construction. Gradebook.

Legislative wish-list: The Florida School Boards Association, which represents members of all but three of the state’s school boards, releases its 2019 legislative wish-list with four primary objectives: More funding for campus security and mental health services, allowing local districts to maintain property tax rates so they can collect more money from rising values, a 3 percent increase in the base student allocation, and addressing the teacher shortage by reducing the time retired educators have to wait before returning to a classroom from one year to one month. Gradebook.

Hope Scholarship fund-raising: The state began collecting money Monday for one of its two new scholarship programs. Residents buying cars will have the option of designating up to $105 of the sales tax toward the Hope Scholarship for students who are the victims of bullying or physical violence in schools. Once enough money is collected later this fall, students may elect to receive up to $7,000 to transfer to a private school, or $750 for transportation to another public school. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the scholarship program. redefinED. Orlando Sentinel. WLRN. News Service of Florida.

School security: Schools in the Tampa Bay area have concluded their safety assessments and are busy planning for or installing such things as door locks, surveillance cameras and new communications systems in classrooms. WUSF. Palm Beach County School Superintendent Donald Fennoy will discuss the district’s new security measures at a community meeting later this month. Sun-Sentinel.

Combating absenteeism: The Bay County School District combats chronic absenteeism – defined as missing 10 percent or more of the days in a school year  –  with incentives, intervention and, when all else fails, discipline. Last year the district’s daily attendance averaged 72.97 percent. This year it’s 94.7 percent, but school officials say attendance tends to decline through the school year. Panama City News Herald.

School move delayed again: The opening of the new charter school building in Pasco County has been delayed again. Plato Academy Trinity originally said the building for its 250 K-4 students would be open when school resumed. Construction delays pushed that to Sept. 1, then Oct. 1, and now Oct. 8. Classes have been held at another building about 2 miles away. Gradebook.

Personnel moves: Jason H. Allen is appointed principal at New World School of the Arts, a magnet high school in Miami. He had been the principal at Golden Glades Elementary School. Miami’s Community Newspapers.

Students arrested: A 10-year-old student at Minneola Elementary Charter School is arrested for bringing a kitchen knife to school inside a stuffed animal. The girl was charged as a juvenile with possessing a weapon on school property. Daily CommercialOrlando Sentinel. A 15-year-old student at Pensacola Catholic High School is arrested and accused of posting a threat against the school on social media. Pensacola News Journal. WEAR. A South Miami Senior High School student is arrested and accused of bringing an unloaded gun to school. WPLG.

School bus driver reassigned: A Broward County school bus driver is reassigned while district officials investigate allegations that she fell asleep at the wheel while transporting students from Falcon Cove Middle School in Weston. WPLG.

Opinions on schools: With the general public understanding that low wages devalue the invaluable contributions of our teachers, state lawmakers, especially amid a growing national teacher shortage, need to do better by our teachers if the state’s “paramount duty” of providing a high quality education is to ever be fulfilled. Citrus County Chronicle.

Student enrichment: Twelve more Palm Beach County school have started offering free dinners to after-school students, bringing the total number of schools participating in the federal program to 67. Sun-Sentinel. Ryan Bradley, a senior at Springstead High School, is elected as the student representative to the Hernando County School Board. Tampa Bay Times. Tim Rodriquez, a drum major in the Leesburg High School marching band, is one of four from Florida among the 224 U.S. students selected to play for Macy’s Great American Marching Band in the annual Thanksgiving parade. Daily Commercial.

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