Holocaust dispute, building new schools, teacher pay concerns, laptops and more

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Holocaust dispute: A Palm Beach County principal has apologized for telling a parent that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” as a explanation for what she thought was too little emphasis on teaching about the deaths of 6 million people at the hands of the Nazis. The mother was stunned, and has spent the last year pushing for reform in the way the Holocaust is taught at Spanish River High School and other district schools, and for holding the principal accountable for his words. The principal, William Latson, was counseled but not disciplined. School board chair Frank A. Barbieri Jr. said there is “no room” for anti-Semitism and called Holocaust education a “priority.” Palm Beach Post.

School construction: The Volusia County School Board has approved a plan to borrow $100 million to begin building schools faster than it could if it waits for money to come in from the extra half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2014. A year ago the board voted against borrowing $150 million, but reversed course last week after district officials said that waiting would cause delays. The district plans to pay off the loan, which will include $6 million in interest, in five years. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Teacher pay disputes: Orange County teachers begin voting this week on a contract agreement between the district and union that provides modest raises. The proposal has been widely criticized as inadequate because some teachers will see their take-home shrink by $100 or more a month since a hike in insurance premiums will dwarf the raise. Under the deal, all teachers would get a $500 pay raise and a $500 bonus. Teachers rated highly effective will get $1,525 more and effective ones will get $1,125 more. Orlando Sentinel. Teachers in Brevard County also are unhappy with the pay raise offered by the school board, and vote on it next month. The offer would provide a $650 bonus for all teachers, a $500 bonus for first-year teachers, a raise of $1,100 for highly effective teachers and $825 for effective ones. Florida Today.

Technology plan threatened: The future of the Lake County School District’s plan to put a Chromebook into the hands of all students in middle and high schools is being threatened by the state’s cut in funding for the digital classroom initiative. The money coming to the district has been reduced from about $1 million in the first year to just under $300,000 next year. District officials have planned to hand Chromebooks to middle school students for the 2020-2021 school year, but now say it’s unclear where the money will come from. Daily Commercial.

Security in schools: Schools throughout northwest Florida are spending millions of dollars this summer to put fencing up and more to comply with state school safety requirements, although some have to divert money from other projects such as roof repairs to do so. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Cops living at schools: The Broward County School District is re-evaluating whether to continue a 30-plus-years program that allows 27 law enforcement officers to live in mobile homes on the grounds of schools in exchange for providing after-hours security. The Resident on Campus Security program began in the 1980s as a way to reduce crime at schools. But a 2015 audit questioned its effectiveness, and some school board members are in favor of ending it. Sun Sentinel.

Fight over education duties: The U.S. Department of Education is fighting with the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee about the states’ responsibility to educate disabled migrant children. DOE says the states do not have that responsibility, while U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., says that position is not supported “by case law and the legislative history” of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Politico Florida.

Notable deaths: Pat Dunlap, a longtime football coach at Yulee High School in Nassau County, has died of lung cancer. WJXT.

Personnel moves: Tammie Tallie, the director of athletics for the Duval County School District, is named president of the Florida Athletic Coaches Association. She’s the first female president of the organization, which was founded in 1936. Orlando Sentinel.

Concussions concerns: A study of Florida high school women’s lacrosse players concludes that the sport is second only to football in the number of concussions suffered, and some Florida coaches think the state’s requirement that players wear helmets is a contributing factor. Jayson Saunders, the coach of the Naples High School lacrosse team, thinks that the helmets promote more aggressive play and looser officiating. WFTX.

Teacher arrested: A Polk County elementary school teacher is arrested and accused of domestic violence and assault. Carrington Latson, 32, is a teacher at Wendell Watson Elementary in Lakeland. Lakeland Ledger.

Opinions on schools: Telling private schools they can’t have state money if they reject gay kids should be easy for lawmakers. We hope more companies with a conscience will make the decision even easier by putting the state on notice that they’ll stop donating for K-12 scholarships if lawmakers fail to act. Orlando Sentinel. Vaping is a new epidemic among teens, and fighting it will take time, persistence and education. It’s good to see that Palm Beach County School District administrators are rolling up their sleeves for the battle ahead. Palm Beach Post. Officials from the Citrus County School District and the Sheriff’s Office need to put aside their differences and sign an agreement to protect our children in schools. Citrus County Chronicle. The number of kids who passed the Florida Standards Assessments in any of our schools is a function not of how well the teachers or administrators are doing, but how impoverished the students are. Gil Smart, TCPalm. Contrary to a mountain of evidence, critics continue to insist public education in Florida has gone off the rails, and school choice is to blame. Even in this era where facts matter less and less, this is rich. Patrick Gibbons, Tallahassee Democrat. The Duval County School Board must tread cautiously in diverging from the high standards expected of public school construction only for the sake of cheapness. A community’s investment in the quality of its school system mirrors the hopes and ambitions it has for the students who will come out of it. Nate Monroe, Florida Times-Union. Combine high demand and an expanded state voucher program and Glendale Christian School has a recipe for expansion in Indian River County. It won’t come without challenges on multiple fronts. Laurence Reisman, TCPalm. It’s well past time for the Florida legislature to recognize the need to protect children who encounter hazardous walking conditions between home and school. Rob Doss, Pensacola News Journal. Lake County school officials have selected a new principal and put together a plan for a struggling elementary school in Leesburg, but they need help from the community. Lauren Ritchie, Orlando Sentinel.

Student enrichment: Faaheem Proctor, a recent graduate of Palm Beach Gardens High School, won first place in the Elks Oratorical Contest, a state speech contest, and also finished second in the southeast United States. Palm Beach Post. The Educational Foundation of Lake County begins its year-long drive to raise money to provide needy students with food and school supplies. Daily Commercial. Students get practical experience operating a business through the Taste of Immokalee company, which sells sauces and salsas made from Collier County produce through Publix, other retail outlets and online. Business Observer. Twenty-one teachers from around the state will attend a at a University of Florida workshop for specialized training on teaching human evolution. Gainesville Sun.

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