Corcoran as commissioner? Republican Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis is reportedly considering appointing former House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, to be the next commissioner of education. The staunch school choice advocate would replace Pam Stewart, who had planned on retiring when Gov. Rick Scott left office in January but in October accepted a request by the Florida Board of Education to stay on another year. It’s unknown what effect the potential appointment of Corcoran would have on Stewart continuing another year. Politico Florida.
Teachers and guns: The argument for arming teachers and school employees gained credence when the chairman of the panel investigating the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School suggested it should be reconsidered. Despite that, many teachers and school board members remain opposed and say only trained law enforcement officers should be carrying guns in schools. Tampa Bay Times. Some school safety experts question whether the recommendations of a federal commission looking into the school shooting will carry any more weight than they have in the past. Education Dive.
District’s stonewalling: After the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, the Broward County School District delayed or withheld public records that showed it knew more about the alleged shooter than it was acknowledging, hired a consultant to begin preparing a legal defense, refused to discuss the roles employees had in the event, released incorrect information and disparaged reporters, according to records and other information. Sun-Sentinel. A second Broward deputy is put on restricted duty for his actions during the shooting. Sun-Sentinel.
Suing over reassignments: Three assistant principals at Stoneman Douglas High are suing Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie for reassigning them because of their actions during the school shooting Feb. 14. Jeff Morford, Denise Reed and Winfred Porter say they acted heroically during the shooting, and that Runcie took “illegal and politically motivated disciplinary actions” of reassigning them and placing them under investigation. Runcie’s decision sparked protests last week by teachers and students. Sun-Sentinel. Scot Peterson, the deputy who didn’t confront the shooter, asks a court to postpone his scheduled deposition in a civil lawsuit Dec. 17 because he fears for his safety. Sun-Sentinel.
State revenue projections: State analysts meet Dec. 18 to update their projections for the state’s revenue from taxes, which are crucial in setting budgets for Florida schools. News Service of Florida.
Schools, after the storm: School districts in the Florida Panhandle are taking the recovery from Hurricane Michael one day at a time, adjusting to damaged schools, homeless students and teachers, loss of enrollment, the lack of basic services such as the Internet for some students, among other things. Associated Press.
Contract negotiations: Pinellas County teachers continue to hold out against the school district’s latest and “final offer” of a 2.55 percent pay raise. Teachers say the raise would be nice, but they’re also interested in improving working conditions. Increased oversight of teachers’ day-to-day work, the addition of work not related to teaching and less job security are cutting into the effectiveness of teachers, the union says. The district wants an agreement now, with non-financial items negotiated later, which the union is not willing to do. Tampa Bay Times.
A/C help for schools: Twenty-one Hillsborough County schools are on a list to get upgraded air-conditioning systems next summer with the money that will be coming the district’s way after voters approved a half-cent increase in the sales tax Nov. 6. The district is beginning to select vendors for the work. More than 200 schools will get upgrades by 2029, when the added tax ends. Tampa Bay Times.
Financial literacy: State Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast, says he plans to honor late State Sen. Dorothy Hukill by getting her bill requiring students to take a class on financial literacy passed in the legislative session that starts March 5. Hukill, who died Oct. 2, tried unsuccessfully for the past five years to get the bill passed. Gradebook.
Dual enrollment costs: Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, says he wants the Legislature to create a fund to cover the costs for students taking classes in high school and college at the same time. Some private school and home-schooled students have been denied dual enrollment because it wasn’t clear who was responsible for paying. redefinED.
Teacher shortage: The Hillsborough County School District continues to struggle to fill vacancies in the 50 struggling schools known as “Achievement” schools. At the beginning of the school year, the district even offered a $2,000 bonus to highly rated teachers to transfer to those schools. Tampa Bay Times.
Schools and religion: Florida was just one of seven states to pass a law this year requiring or permitting schools to post the motto “In God We Trust” prominently in every district building. Arkansas passed a similar law in 2017, and Arizona now allows schools to post the state motto, “God Enriches.” The trend has picked up momentum with the appointment of two more conservative judges to the U.S. Supreme Court who both have a history of siding with religious interests on such issues. Washington Post.
Schools and philanthropy: The richest people in America are increasingly directing their philanthropy toward education in ways that challenge the status quo in favor of big ideas that produce specific results. Associated Press.
Private schools’ policies: Can a private school receiving scholarship money from a state program ban students over their hairstyles or dress code violations? The question is at the center of a complaint filed with the state last week. Education Week.
Audit questions district: A state auditor concludes that the Okaloosa County School District gave bonuses from the Best and Brightest program to employees who did not qualify. The review also questioned the district’s implementation of salary schedules, the eligibility of some employee dependents for health insurance, the oversight in the collection of child-care fees and the process of payments for school resource officers. Northwest Florida Daily News.
Legislative agenda: Citrus County school officials are asking their legislative delegation for more state funding for vocational education, an increase in per-student funding and alternative ways to train, license and certify school guardians. Citrus County Chronicle.
Notable deaths: Leslie “Lisa” Williams, a librarian and media teacher at Stephen Foster Elementary School in Gainesville, is honored by her students at a memorial service. Williams, 57, and her 15-year-old daughter Paige, a Buchholz High School student, were stabbed to death Nov. 15. Paul Williams, 61, has been charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, obstruction and evidence tampering in the deaths of his wife and daughter. WUFT.
Personnel moves: Rachael Tutwiler Fortune is named president and U.S. District Judge Brian J. Davis board chairman of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. Florida Times-Union.
School video gaming leagues: Florida and other state have launched video gaming clubs and tournaments. Many parents and experts criticize the trend, but officials say they are simply trying to cater to the demands and interests of students. Fox News.
Suit over charter school: A Clermont resident is suing the city over its approval of the location for the planned Citrus Tower Charter School. The K-8 school would have up to 765 students in a 45,000-square-foot building on a 5-acre lot that is within a mile of five schools. Daily Commercial.
Students arrested: A 15-year-old Sebastian River High School student is arrested after a loaded handgun is found in his bag at school, according to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. TCPalm. Two Marion County high school students are arrested and accused of making threats against Forest and North Marion high schools. Ocala Star-Banner.
Opinions on schools: State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, is in no way qualified to be a top education policy-maker in a state where the education system is shamefully poor and needs dramatic change. Lauren Ritchie, Orlando Sentinel. The swearing-in of a new Sarasota County School District police chief may finally end a political standoff between the district and local law enforcement agencies over school safety. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. How to fix Florida’s teacher certification system: Let the state decide whether a candidate knows the subject, but let districts decide whether a candidate can teach. And get rid of the general knowledge exam. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.
Student enrichment: The Manatee County School District’s Migrant Education Program is helping support 445 students of migrant workers with basic needs. Bradenton Herald. Students at the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School on the Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation are learning to read, write and speak Creek, the native language of the tribe. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Seminole Ridge High School construction academy students finish, deliver and help install a modular home they built for Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County. Palm Beach Post. The invention of a robot that could potentially stop a school shooter propels Gainesville’s Eastside High School into the state finals in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Competition against four other schools. Gainesville Sun.