Student mental health crisis, lottery warnings, heat death inquiry and more

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Students’ mental health crisis: Eight months after Hurricane Michael swept through the Panhandle, many residents are still living in tents or campers and struggling to find a day-to-day normalcy. Bay County school officials say they’re on the verge of a full-blown mental health crisis among their students, with more than a third suffering from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder at a time when fewer mental health professionals are available to help. “The current mental health crisis in Bay County is like nothing we have experienced before,” officials wrote in a report of the schools’ mental health needs. “We have the real potential of falling into a full blown humanitarian crisis should another adverse event occur.” Miami Herald.

Lottery warnings: Florida Lottery are making a last-minute appeal against requiring gambling addiction warning labels on tickets and ads. Shelly Gerteisen, the lottery’s director of product, says the warnings will have an impact on sales, which in turn could cause a drop of hundreds of millions of dollars that go into the Education Enhancement Trust Fund and help pay for education programs. H.B. 629 was approved by the Legislature in May and is on the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who says he has concerns about the bill. News Service of Florida.

Heat-related death: The Tampa high school football player who collapsed and died during drills Tuesday had a body temperature of 102 degrees when he arrived at an emergency room, according to a preliminary report from the Hillsborough medical examiner. Hezekiah Walters, 14, had been running sprints and doing agility drills at Middleton High School for about 20 minutes, and had taken one water break, when he began to vomit and had a seizure. Bystanders performed CPR on him and paramedics arrived within five minutes. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA. WUSF.

Tortoise delays project: The expansion of the Marion County School District’s commercial driver’s license program has been delayed by the discovery of 18 gopher tortoises in the area where a driving pad was supposed to be built. Gopher tortoises are a threatened species and are protected by state law. The discovery could delay the addition of a second class by up to six months, since the district has to get a permit to relocate the turtles, said Mark Vianello, the district’s executive director of the Career and Technical Education department. Ocala Star-Banner.

Academic proposal softened: Just last month, Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning said the district was going to require students to complete a college-credit bearing course or get an industry certification before graduating. But the proposal the district staff is taking to the school board has removed the mandate and simply says the district will “make every effort” to make such courses available for students. Gradebook.

March for teacher pay: More than 50 Brevard County students are expected to march to the school board building today to show their support for a plan to raise teacher pay. That plan urged the district to draw from its reserves to pay teachers more, which was supported in a special magistrate’s recommendation. Superintendent Mark Mullins rejected it, saying the district couldn’t afford it, and the issue will be decided by the school board. Florida Today.

Candidates on education: Here’s where Democratic presidential candidates stand on a variety of education issues. Chalkbeat.

Teaching comparisons: How does teaching in Florida compare with Finland, Brazil, Canada and other countries, on such issues as pay, work conditions, class sizes and training? Florida Trend.

School year in review: The Pasco County School District opened its first technical high school during the just-concluded 2018-2019 school year, backed off a controversial proposal to close several schools, improved school security but declined to arm teachers,  and held firm in its policies for transgender students despite a backlash. Tampa Bay Times.

3rd-grade test scores: State reading scores for Franklin County students were a tale of two schools. At the Apalachicola Bay Charter School, three-quarters of the school’s 36th 3rd-graders scored at a Level 3 or above. But at the Franklin County School, only 37 percent of the 73 students tested did. “I think our teachers fought the good fight and we have to do a better job with truancy, and doing a better job holding our parents accountable,” said FCS principal Michael Sneed. Apalachicola Times.

Education podcast: Megan Harding went from teaching in a Pasco County elementary school to winning a seat on the school board. She talks about the transition, her push to stream board meetings online and her votes on several crucial issues. Gradebook.

Teacher shortage: The Lake County School District has 200 teaching jobs to fill before school resumes in August. School officials said they hoped to hire 30-50 teachers at a job fair Thursday. WOFL. Duval County, which had 400 openings, is still looking for 200-250 teachers. Tracy Pierce, the chief of marketing and public relations for the school district, says the “number of vacancies is slightly higher than what we would normally expect at this time.” WJAX.

Personnel moves: Three new principals are appointed in Pasco County: Adrian Anthony at Hudson Elementary, Jeff Morgenstein at Gulf High and Jason Joens at Zephyrhills High. Gradebook.

Superintendent’s job: The former human resources director of the Manatee County School District is one of three finalists for the job of superintendent of the Bozeman (Mt.) School District. Sarah Brown resigned last month just as a report was released that was critical of her department’s performance. Brown said the report is “full of misleading information … not accurate … (and) ill-intended.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle. KBZK.

Vendor drops challenge: One of the two companies challenging the state’s awarding of a contract for a social media monitoring tool has withdrawn its protest. The Florida Department of Education awarded NTT Data the contract to help schools monitor social media sites for threats and signs of bullying and suicide risk. Social Sentinel and Tampa-based Abacode challenged the decision, but Social Sentinel has withdrawn it. Politico Florida.

Charter investigation: The board at the Mason Classical Academy charter school in Naples is hiring an outside investigator to look into the mismanagement allegations made in a report by the Collier County School District’s attorney. Among those listed by Jon Fishbane: breach of charter contract, lack of financial oversight and Sunshine Law violations. The report also recommends two Mason board members and the principal resign. Naples Daily News.

School logo dispute: The University of Texas says Lennard High School in Hillsborough County is using its distinctive orange longhorn logo, and demands that it stop. Lennard officials say the logo will be revised, and given a slightly different color, by the fall. WFLA.

School nurse arrested: A Walton County School nurse has been arrested by deputies and accused of child neglect. Deputies say Jacquetta Lowry, 40, a nurse at the Paxton School in Laurel Hill, took pills left at the school for some students and, in some cases, replaced the ones she took with something else. “Kids were asking about their meds. Saying they didn’t taste right,” said Sheriff Mike Adkinson. Northwest Florida Daily News.

School deputy resigns: A Charlotte County school resource officer has resigned after he arrived drunk to an event last month. Deputy Joshua Muse, who was assigned to Liberty Elementary School, was working the event when dispatchers noticed he was slurring his words. A breathalyzer was administered and showed Muse had a blood alcohol content between .230 and .246, which is about three times more than the legal limit for driving. He was placed on administrative leave and later resigned. Charlotte Sun.

Opinions on schools: The Legislature is committed to public schools, and all students, which is reflected in the additional investment in schools and students’ scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests. State Sen. Keith Perry, Gainesville Sun. Floridians should reject the idea that the state should hold information about students that has nothing to do with identifying threats, before every child has a record that can’t be erased. Amelia Vance, Orlando Sentinel. Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins was the right person at the right time for a job that can eat you alive. The next superintendent will inherit a district in far better shape than the one Eakins inherited. Joe Henderson, Tampa Bay Times. By its actions, the Orange County School District is showing how desperately it wants to give every student access to careers in fields like engineering, physics, computer science and the health professions. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow. Arming teachers means we can now blame them if they fail to stop the next mass shooter. Frederic H. Decker, Sun Sentinel.

Student enrichment: Seven-year-old Taige Leathers, a rising 2nd-grader at R.L. Brown Elementary School, wows the crowd at Jacksonville City Council chambers with her speech supporting the need for a referendum to raise the sales tax so the school district can replace and renovate schools. Florida Times-Union. Volusia County hotels have helped 49 schools since an adopt-a-school program was started in 2016 by the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County. Daytona Beach News-Journal. After an absence of seven years, yearbooks are back at Richmond Heights Middle School in Miami. Miami Herald. Students at Easter Seals Culinary Arts High School in Miami are honored by the Children’s Trust organization with the Champions for Children Award. The students prepare and serve meals daily for about 200 students at the school. WLRN. Ariella Mayer, a recent 8th-grade graduate from the Katz Hillel Day School in Boca Raton, wins first place among 600 entries nationally for her essay in the Better Together program’s Better2Write competition. Sun Sentinel.

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