Sharing with charter schools: A bill that would require more than a dozen Florida school districts to share money from voter-approved increases in property taxes with charter schools is approved by the House Ways and Means Committee. State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, says school districts that don’t share the funds with charter schools are “immoral” and “trying to skirt the law.” The bill would cost districts millions. In Broward County alone, the bill would force the school district to turn over $18 million to charter schools over four years. Tampa Bay Times. Sun Sentinel. redefinED. Politico Florida. Included in the bill is a back-to-school sales tax holiday for early August that would save taxpayers an estimated $33 million. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida.
Security in schools: The Senate Appropriations Committee narrowly advances a bill that would revise last year’s law mandating security measures for the state’s schools. The sticking point for some senators is the provision that would allow the arming of teachers. “Overall, I think this is a really good bill,” said Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee. “The piece that I can’t embrace is … the idea that more guns on campus makes it safer. I can’t get there at this point.” Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Lauderhill, says Republicans have promised to at least “consider” removing that provision from the bill. Other parts in the bill were widely supported, including a requirement that schools report all violent incidents, a new focus on assessing threatening behavior and a mandate that schools promote ways to report suspicious activity. The bill now goes for a Senate floor vote. Associated Press. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Florida Phoenix. WFSU.
Anti-Semitism bill: The Florida House unanimously approves a bill that would prohibit anti-Semitism in public schools and universities. Specifically, it requires schools to handle discrimination against Jewish people in the same way as they racial discrimination. The companion bill is also moving through the Senate. Associated Press. Florida Politics.
District’s layoffs possibility: Bay County Superintendent Bill Husfelt says the district will have to lay off about 600 employees if the Legislature doesn’t pass S.B. 520. The district has lost 3,679 students because of Hurricane Michael, and needs $37.2 million over the next two years for operational costs. And then there’s the $250 million projected cost of rebuilding and repairing schools damaged by the storm. Husfelt says it’s “mind boggling” to him that federal and state politicians haven’t passed any major bills for hurricane relief funds. Panama City News Herald. WJHG.
Lead in schools: Lead in drinking water at schools has been an ongoing problem in many Florida districts, but the only bill filed in this legislative session that require schools to deal with the issue by installing filters has gone nowhere in the House. Florida Phoenix.
Parental bill of rights: A Senate committee gives its approval to the “Parents Bill of Rights,” a measure that would allow parents to access their children’s school records and require students to have written consent from their parents to receive mental health services or be prescribed birth control at school. News Service of Florida. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WJAX.
Teacher ‘walk-in’: It’s against the law for Florida teachers to go on strike, so teachers in St. Johns County and around the state are planning a “walk-in” next week to protest low pay and a lack of state funding for education. They’ll gather before school and walk in together as a sign of solidarity. St. Augustine Record.
What these teachers want: A poll of Orange County teachers shows that they want better pay and police officers to carry guns in schools instead of teachers and other school employees. Seventy-nine percent expressed satisfaction they’ve received from the district, and 66 percent said higher pay would convince them to continue teaching. Seventy percent said they oppose arming school employees who aren’t law enforcement officers. Orlando Sentinel.
Sales tax money coming in: The Lee County School District receives $6.3 million in sales tax money that was collected in January. Voters bumped the sales tax by a half-cent last November. Part of the money will be used for a $13 million renovation and addition at Lehigh Senior High School, which is expected to grow by 375 students next year. Fort Myers News-Press.
Education podcast: Nick Tomboulides, a Florida resident who is executive director of the organization U.S. Term Limits, defends the bill to impose term limits on local school board members. Gradebook.
Superintendent’s tour: Brevard County school Superintendent Mark Mullins embarks on a month-long “listening tour” to get feedback on the district’s performance from residents, teachers and students. Florida Today.
District rezoning: About 200 Santa Rosa County students will attend new schools after a rezoning proposal was approved by the school board. The rezoning will alleviate overcrowding at Dixon Elementary, Dixon Intermediate and Oriole Beach Elementary schools. Pensacola News Journal.
New makeup work rules: The Pasco County School Board is considering a change in policy that could allow students with unexcused absences to make up homework. The vote is Tuesday. Gradebook.
Renaming a school: The Manatee County School District is asking for nominations of a new name for the K-8 Johnson-Wakeland School of International Baccalaureate. Wakeland Elementary School and Johnson Middle School were merged in August 2018, and parents of students have pushed for a new name. A final decision is expected in about a month. Bradenton Herald.
Volunteer honored: Sal Iaropoli, a retired music teacher from the Bronx who now voluntarily teaches music to students at St. Johns County schools, is named the school district’s outstanding senior volunteer. In the past 12 years, he has taught for more than 5,000 hours. St. Augustine Record.
New termination wording: New wording is showing up in personnel actions approved by school boards as a result of a state law approved last year by the Legislature. The bill requires districts to more accurately describe the circumstances around an employee’s departure. Last week’s Manatee County School Board agenda, for instance, had a personnel action requested that included the words “resignation in lieu of termination.” Bradenton Herald.
No bail for May: The owner of the Newpoint charter school, who was convicted last year for racketeering and organized fraud, is denied bail because the judge is worried that he may disappear. Marcus May still has millions of dollars and a boat, the judge pointed out in refusing May’s request that a bond be set. Pensacola News Journal.
Students arrested: An 18-year-old Miami-Dade student is arrested after allegedly attacking his principal with a professional wrestling move called the RKO, in which the attacker jumps in the air and onto the victim. Humberto Miret, principal at Southridge High School, was not injured. The boy was charged with battery on a school employee. Miami Herald. Five students are arrested after a fight at Edward White Senior High School in Jacksonville that sent one student to the hospital. All were charged with aggravated battery for the fight, which was captured by the school’s surveillance cameras. Florida Times-Union. WJAX.
Deputy’s actions questioned: Parents in St. Lucie County express concern after a video surfaces that shows a St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputy throwing a 6th-grader to the ground at Lincoln Park Academy in Fort Pierce. The deputy says the student was being suspended, walked away from school officials and ignored their instructions. Sheriff Ken Mascara said the deputy did not use excessive force. WPTV. TCPalm.
Student enrichment: Jacob Harrison, a junior in the IB program at Largo High School in Pinellas County, scores a perfect 1600 in his first attempt at taking the SAT test. WFTS. Students at Miami Beach High School make a documentary telling the stories of Holocaust survivors. Miami Herald. Sylvia Tarquine, an 8th-grade language arts teacher at Tavares Middle School, uses the story of her mother’s survival as part of her Holocaust lesson. Daily Commercial. The Electro-Lions robotics team from the Imagine School in Palm Coast will compete in an international tournament next month in Arkansas. Daytona Beach News-Journal.