Proposed academic standards, disaster bill, equity plan results, tax hike and more

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New academic standards: The proposed academic standards for students in Florida middle and high schools have a simpler tone and use fewer words than the current standards. But it’s too early to tell if that means the replacement for the Common Core standards will be harder or easier. The Florida Department of Education has posted the proposed changes, and is soliciting public input here. Florida Phoenix.

Disaster aid bill: The House has approved a bill providing disaster relief, sending it on to President Trump for his signature. The $19.1 billion package, which had been held up for months over political infighting, will make aid available for schools and districts damaged by Hurricane Michael and more. Panama City News Herald. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Florida Politics. Bay County school officials will get training on how to manage emergency shelters. Panama City News Herald. Tampa Bay area superintendents talk about their worst fears if a major storm hits the area. Tampa Bay Times.

District equity plan: Alachua County school officials say four of the five first-year goals in the district’s equity plan for black students have been met. As part of the plan to close the educational gap between white and black students by 2028, the district vowed to raise math and reading scores by 3 percent, boost participation in magnet and advanced courses by 2 percent, increase the graduation rate by 3 percent, reduce out-of-school suspensions for black students by 15 percent, and hire more teachers and administrators of color. The last four were accomplished, and the district is awaiting this year’s test results to see about the first one. Alachua County has the largest achievement gaps between white and black students in the state for English and language arts, math and science levels. Gainesville Sun.

Sales tax referendum: The Jacksonville Civic Council’s Education Task Force says it has three concerns about the Duval County School Board’s request to raise the sales tax by half a cent to finance nearly $2 billion in school repairs. The council says the plan is too expensive, fails to anticipate declining enrollment and doesn’t consider the future impact of charter schools. School officials say they’ll have a response for the council by the end of the month. WJXT. School board member Lori Hershey answers questions about the proposed referendum. Florida News Line.

New reading endorsements: The state has added new, required reading endorsements for teachers, with classes already beginning in some districts. Teachers have 14 months to fulfill the requirements. Five classes are needed, but teachers who graduated from a Florida university education program will probably have undergraduate coursework that counts for the first four. Lakeland Ledger.

School rezoning: The Pasco County School District is beginning to plan for rezoning several schools on the east side of the county as a new $45 million Cypress Creek Middle prepares to open in the fall of 2020. A final vote on the proposed new boundaries is set Nov. 19. Gradebook.

Learning from students: Hernando County teachers talk about what they learned from their students this past school year. Tampa Bay Times.

School calendars: The Palm Beach County School Board will again try to set school calendars for the next three school years. An Aug. 12 start date had been proposed for 2019-2020, and Aug. 10 for the following two years. But the board delayed a final vote after parents complained that the dates were too early. All but 10 Florida counties are starting the next school year Aug. 12. Aug. 10 is the earliest the state allows districts to begin. Palm Beach Post.

Personnel moves: Kim Davis, the principal at Gulf High School in Pasco County since 2012, has announced her retirement. Gradebook.

School board elections: Allison Campbell, a 43-year-old public relations firm owner, says she is running for the District 1 seat on the Marion County School Board that is being vacated next year by Nancy Stacy. Also running is Shelia Arnett. Ocala Star-Banner.

Wrestling coach dies: The new coach of the Sarasota High School wrestling team died of at apparent heart attack at the Sunshine State Games in West Palm Beach. Tracy Lee, a Sarasota attorney who was named coach in May, took several wrestlers to compete. On Saturday, Lee wrestled a competitor from Russia. Sometime after the match he collapsed. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Teacher arrested: A Kissimmee elementary school teacher has been arrested and accused of insurance fraud. State investigators say Lanfranco Palman, 56, threw himself onto the hood of a stopped vehicle in August 2016, then filed an insurance claim and hired two law firms to pursue a civil lawsuit. Orlando Sentinel.

Bewildering actions: The Miami-Dade education community is stunned by the alleged actions and arrest of former school board member Solomon Stinson. The 81-year-old is accused of firing a weapon into a car, then leading police on a car chase that included an exchange of gunfire. Stinson was involuntarily hospitalized for observation. “This is completely out of context,” said family friend Tangela Sears, an anti-gun violence activist. “Something must have snapped. It has to be some kind of mental illness or dementia.”  Miami Herald.

Opinions on schools: Florida has far outpaced the rest of the South in the creation of private choice programs for low-income students and students with disabilities, and the benefits are showing up on the National Assessment of Educational Progress report card. Matthew Ladner, redefinED. The Hillsborough County School District should address its discipline issues with honesty and transparency. Ernest Hooper, Tampa Bay Times. It’s time for the Alachua County School District to adopt year-round schooling. Nathan Crabbe, Gainesville Sun. The Collier County School District is one of just eight in the state designated by the Florida Board of Education as an “academically high-performing school district.” Our community has reason to take tremendous pride in the achievement. Collier Superintendent Kamela Patton, Naples Daily News.