Adjunct K-12 teachers, spending vs. equity, pay raise rejected, bills, mascots and more

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‘Adjunct’ teachers: Adjunct professors have long been used in colleges and universities, and now the concept is becoming more accepted in K-12 schools in Florida. It’s one of the nontraditional ways schools are using to hire teachers who have an expertise in a specific subject but no teaching certificate. A bill approved in the Legislature would allow districts to issue adjunct certificates to fulltime instructors who haven’t passed the general knowledge test most teachers need for certification. Some districts are unaware of the legislation, which still has to be signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Florida Phoenix.

School spending vs. equity: A recent report in Education Week says Florida ranks 45th in the United States in overall K-12 spending, but first in the way it spends its money equally on schools to meet needs. That equates to “the return-on-investment of the A+ reforms are through the roof,” according to the report. The authors say the study shows that states that score highly on spending do poorly on equity, and vice versa. “Florida highlights this disconnect. The state is ranked first for equity, receiving the sole A for the indicator, but 45th for spending, with an F,” they wrote. Gradebook.

Pay raise plan rejected: Brevard County school Superintendent Mark Mullins has rejected a special magistrate’s recommendation that the district dip into its reserves to give teachers raises. The union had been pushing for pay raises of $2,300 for teachers rated as “highly effective” and $1,725 for teachers rated “effective,” and an $835 raise for special education teachers. Special magistrate Tom Young backed the union, but Mullins said the district can’t afford it. The issue now goes to the school board for a decision. Florida Today.

Bills to sign: Forty-one bills have been sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign, including H.B. 190, the higher education bill that would, among other things, toughen the standards students must meet to qualify for Bright Futures scholarships. News Service of Florida.

Medical marijuana in schools: The Palm Beach County School Board approves a policy that will allow students to receive medical marijuana treatments at schools. Only parents or a caregiver may administer the drug. WPTV. WPEC. The Clay County School District is the only one in northeast Florida that allows medical marijuana to be administered at schools. The policy was implemented last school year, and only one student qualified for the program. A Duval County parent just asked that school board to create a policy so her 14-year-old daughter can receive treatment during school hours. WJAX.

Investigation of administrators: The Sarasota County School Board has authorized the board attorney to hire an investigator to look into accusations that chief operating officer Jeff Maultsby made threatening text messages to his administrative assistant and whether Superintendent Todd Bowden responded appropriately to the complaints. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Security in schools: School officials in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties say they’ve reached a balance that covers their school security needs with budgeting, personnel and operational needs. Neither district will arm teachers, and both rely heavily on law enforcement to guard schools. “We have finite resources, so we have not been able to do everything all at once, but we’ve been working on this since Sandy Hook,” said Escambia Superintendent Malcolm Thomas. Pensacola News Journal.

Mascots controversy: The Hillsborough County School Board has requested that a decision to end the use of Native American mascots and nicknames at six schools be delayed until they can consider the issue. But one member, Tamara Shamburger, made her position clear in a Facebook post this week: “I believe that no school should be named or use a mascot that is offensive or insensitive to any culture.” The board discussion is planned June 11. Gradebook. More about the policy and the politics behind it in a podcast. Gradebook.

School finances: The Flagler County School District’s finance director, Tom Tant, explains how the district is facing a budget deficit of up to $1.5 million even though it’s receiving $2.8 million more from the state. Flagler Live.

Superintendent search: The Volusia County School Board has three weeks to find an interim replacement for fired Superintendent Tom Russell, whose last day is June 27. Board members have asked the Florida School Boards Association for help, and say they’ll whittle a list of about 10 candidates down to three to interview June 17, then make a decision the following day. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Vaping ‘epidemic’: Nassau County ranks seventh in the state in the percentage of students who vape, according to a recent report, with more than 33 percent of middle and high school students saying they use. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who met with Nassau school and law enforcement officials to talk about addressing the epidemic, said she chose the county for a meeting because of the rapid rise in use there. Florida Times-Union.

New district headquarters: The Marion County School Board decides against buying an existing building and renovating it for its new headquarters. Instead, the board will look into building a new, more energy-efficient headquarters at about the same cost. Board members also voted to slow down the move of Marion Technical Institute, where most of the district administrative offices are, to the campus of Marion Technical College. Ocala Star-Banner.

Historic school sales: The Santa Rosa County School District is putting the historic Berryhill Elementary School in Milton up for sale. The school directed school officials to have the school, built in 1926, appraised and prepared for sale. The district would like to sell it to someone who will preserve it. Northwest Florida Daily News. Plans to redevelop the site of the historic Robert Hungerford Preparatory School in Eatonville fall through, but the Orange County School Board will continue to look for a buyer. Orlando Sentinel.

Survey results: The Hillsborough County School District posts school-by-school results from a survey of parents, students, teachers and other school employees of teacher morale and student attitudes. Gradebook.

School board elections: Ida Wright, who has been on the Volusia County School Board for nearly eight years, announces she won’t run for re-election. Wright represents District 2. Marcey Kinney has announced she is a candidate to replace Wright. District 4 board member Carl Persis says he is running again. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Ex-teacher acquitted: A former Osceola County teacher and coach is acquitted by a jury on charges of transmitting material harmful to minors to a minor by electronic device or equipment by a school authority figure, and harassing a victim, witness or informant. Wayne McKenzie Ricks, who taught and coached at Poinciana High School, was arrested in 2018 after police said he sent a naked photo of himself to a student. He denied the charge but resigned his job. Orlando Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: The “paramount duty” clause of the Florida Constitution was never intended as a weapon against school choice. Patrick R. Gibbons, redefinED. Singling out one person for criminal prosecution for the Parkland school massacre paints an inaccurate picture of a systemic breakdown at every level. Tampa Bay Times. Scot Peterson was negligent at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But was he criminally negligent? That is a dangerous legal stretch. Sun Sentinel. Collier County’s future $94 million high school, scheduled to open in August 2023, looks like something from, well, the future. Brent Batten, Naples Daily News.

Student enrichment: Thirty-nine Miramar High School juniors and seniors make up the first class of the Aviation Technician Career Dual Enrollment program at the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute at Broward College. Sun Sentinel.