Florida schools roundup: Board term limits, security in schools, no charges and more

Jim Booth

Board term limits: A bill that would place the issue of local school board term limits on the Florida ballot has been approved by a second House subcommittee. The vote was 11-4 in favor, mostly along party lines with Republicans supporting it, though members from both parties called for some changes. The Senate version of the bill has yet to receive a committee hearing. The bill would limit board members to eight years in office. It would require approval by 60 percent of both chambers to make the 2020 ballot, then 60 percent of Florida voters to be added to the Constitution. News Service of FloridaGradebook. Florida Politics.

School security: Broward County School Board members approve policies designed to address safety flaws that were criticized after the 2018 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. All schools will have to identify corners in every classroom for students to hide safely in, and all school employees will be required to call a “Code Red” emergency if they see or hear anything threatening student safety. Sun Sentinel. WLRNWPLG. Court cases provide guidance on the liability of schools and districts in keeping students safe. Education Dive.

No charges in pledge flap: An 11-year-old who was arrested during a confrontation at school after he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance will not face criminal charges, says a spokesman for the Polk County State Attorney’s Office. “There was no case referred to the state attorney to prosecute or not prosecute,” says spokesman Jake Orr, which typically means the case has been referred to juvenile court for resolution. Lakeland Ledger.

Virtual school: New Florida Virtual School officials say the organization’s policies, procedures and bylaws have been overhauled as a result of an investigation of former school attorney Frank Kruppenbacher, who was accused of using school employees for work for his other businesses and making boorish remarks to employees, among other things. He resigned in August. Orlando Sentinel.

Teacher raises: Palm Beach County teachers, who got a raise last year when voters approved a property tax increase, are getting another one. The school board has approved raises averaging 3 percent for the district’s 13,000 teachers. Starting pay remains at $41,000, but the highest salary is boosted to $84,246 for veteran teachers. Sun Sentinel.

High school paths: Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning is considering changes to adjust the path to high school graduation to encourage — or perhaps even require — every student to take a college credit course or earn an industry certification. Gradebook. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call to bolster career and technical education programs has generally been received well by members of both parties. Florida Phoenix.

School start times: New starting times for Osceola County schools for next fall are approved by the school board. High schools will start at 7:20 a.m., elementary schools at 8:20 and middle schools at 9:20. Standardizing the times will save the district about $2 million, and Superintendent Debra Pace says she wants to use the savings to pay teachers more. WFTV. WOFL.

School expansion: Bradenton Christian School is planning an expansion that includes a new gymnasium and athletic fields, a change in the orientation and lighting at those fields, a new football field grandstand and new landscaping as a barrier between the school and its residential neighbors in Manatee County. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Charter schools: A proposed new high school in Destin will be a charter school because of the flexibility such a designation offers while still being open to all city students, say officials who are behind the drive. The application was submitted to the Okaloosa County School Board on Feb 1. The board has 90 days to decide whether to approve it. Destin Log.

School impact fees: A study ordered by the Volusia County School Board shows that the county has the lowest school impact fees of any county in the area, and could easily be charging almost double the $3,000 it now gets on new single-family homes. A 2016 agreement with builders locks the district in to the current fees until 2022, but the study is an indication that the district will be asking for a boost then. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Medical marijuana: Medical marijuana advocates are critical of a new policy recently approved by the Hernando County School Board that allows the drug to be administered on campuses, but with restrictions. Only parents or caregivers are allowed to administer the drug to students, and the medicine cannot be kept in schools. “It’s actually a shame that cannabis medicine is being treated so differently from what other medicine a child might need in schools,” says Pete Sessa, co-founder of the Florida Cannabis Coalition. Tampa Bay Times.

Union election: Members of the Miami-Dade County teachers union vote to retain their leadership team for another three years. Karla Hernandez-Mats was re-elected president, Antonio White first vice president and Mindy Grimes-Festge secretary treasurer. Miami Herald.

Students arrested: An 18-year-old student at Dixie Hollins High School in Pinellas County is arrested after he told a friend he’d shoot up the school if he didn’t win a senior superlative award. The boy told deputies he was kidding. Tampa Bay Times. A 16-year-old student at Matanzas High School is arrested for making a social media threat against the Flagler County school, according to deputies. The girl said she has been bullied by two other girls. Flagler Live. WJXT. Two Bonita Springs High School students are arrested for bring edible marijuana gummies to school. WBBH.

Opinions on schools: Before state lawmakers throw more tax dollars into the voucher system, they should create common-sense ways to identify low-performing schools, set the most basic standards and direct students to schools equipped to meet their needs. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student enrichment: Two juniors at Bayside High School in Palm Bay win $96,000 in scholarship money at the Junior Achievement Blastoff Challenge for their invention idea. C.G. Goddard and Gianna Forsythe devised a “Tray’Pron,” which is a tray-apron combination sports fans can use at games so they won’t have to hold all their food in their hands. Florida Today.

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