Back to school giveaways, active shooter drills, free meals and more

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Active shooter drills: Florida Department of Law Enforcement practice how to respond to active school shooters without backup. FLDE denies the practice is a direct response to the Stoneman Douglas shooting where school police waited for backup as 17 students and staff where gunned down at the school. St. Augustine Record.

Student threat database: The Florida Department of Education launched a new database to collect information on student behavior, mental health and to assess threats. State assures database will not be used to label students and will not collect information on race or sexual orientation. The ACLU, and others, have been critical of the database, calling it a threat to student privacy. Tampa Bay Times.

Parent spending spree: Retail experts say this may be the biggest back-to-school weekend ever with an estimated $700 million spent in stores during this tax free “holiday” weekend. Tampa Bay Times. WVTJ.

Back to school: Local church fills 350 backpacks with school supplies for local low-income residents. WJAX. Jacksonville area barbershop gives away 100 backpacks filled with school supplies to parents in need. WJXT.

Principal reinstated: A Palm Beach principal is reinstated to his position after an investigation into grade changing winds down. The school’s assistant principal remains under investigation for altering student grades without permission of the teacher. Palm Beach Post.

Best and brightest: The Florida Board of Education met to define what it meant to be a “newly hired” teacher before $4,000 bonuses are awarded. Some wondered whether “newly hired” meant the teacher was a fresh new recruit or whether it might be a current teacher transferring to a new school. Tampa Bay Times.

Property taxes: All four school districts in the Tampa Bay area look to lower property tax rates as property values, and the school district’s budget, increase. Tampa Bay Times. Last year’s property tax increase in Palm Beach County will net the school district more than $200 million extra. Palm Beach Post.

Students of south Florida: South Florida students present at national tech conference, others recognized and awarded. Miami Herald.

Maintaining momentum: Pineview Elementary jumped from a “F” grade to a “C” and the principal plans to keep up the momentum to maintain the grade. Tallahassee Democrat.

Love for literacy: Read USA promotes literacy to low-income students and inspired one woman to return to the teaching profession. Jacksonville Times-Union.

Free meals: The Community Eligibility Provision provides free breakasts to students in St Johns regardless of income. Local principal says attendance has risen and so has learning and morale. St Augustine Record. Three out of every five students in Palm Beach County are receiving free or reduced priced meals through a Federal program. But rule changes may see enrollment drop. Palm Beach Post.

Opinions on schools: Peter Bowers says third grade retention is a policy designed to fail and a new literacy program for students in earlier grades should be implemented. Ocala Star Banner. Third-grade literacy is important to academic success in later grades and students in Broward County continues to make progress. Marcell Haywood and Jeff Watts, Sun Sentinel. Florida’s public schools spend more and educate more than they did in 1999 despite growing presence of school choice options including charter schools and scholarships for low-income students and students with special needs. The tension in the K-12 system has benefited disadvantaged students. Matthew Ladner, redefinED.

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