Charter terminated over lack of security, split verdict for sales tax hike and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

School’s charter terminated: The Broward County School Board votes 8-1 to close a charter school, and assume control of it, for failing to follow state law requiring it to have an armed guard when classes resumed last week. It’s the first time a state district has terminated a charter over school security. School officials and parents of students at Championship Academy of Distinction in Davie pleaded with board members Tuesday, saying the school had arranged for a city police officer to act as the guardian as of last Friday. But board members said that guard had not been properly trained, and they had no guarantee the school would have security in the future. “This is a milestone decision on a school district’s decision to hold charter schools accountable for school safety,” said Superintendent Robert Runcie. The school has 10 days to appeal the decision to the state. Sun Sentinel. WPLG. Politico Florida.

Sales tax hike requests: The Duval County School District’s request to put an increase of the sales tax on the ballot was rejected by one Jacksonville City Council committee on Tuesday but approved by another. The council’s finance committee voted 5-2 against the request, which would raise money to replace and repair schools, while the rules committee voted 4-3 in favor of it being placed on the Nov. 5 ballot in a special election. Members of both committees expressed concern about the school district’s lack of a detailed timeline for specific projects. The request now goes before the full city council Aug. 27. Florida Times-Union. WJXT. Florida Politics. The Pinellas County School District will ask voters to approve an extension of a special property tax for schools in the November 2020 election. The special tax has raised $477 million since it was first passed in 2004, and is used for teacher salary supplements, art, music and reading classes, and to update technology. Gradebook. Polk County School Board members are considering ways to raise money, including asking voters to raise property taxes and increasing impact fees on new construction. Lakeland Ledger.

Child-trafficking courses: The Florida Department of Education is proposing a rule that would require all K-12 students to receive instruction on preventing child trafficking. School districts would have to submit plans for teaching about trafficking, and face sanctions if they don’t. The Florida Board of Education will consider the proposal at its September meeting. News Service of Florida. Florida Politics.

Choice, teacher raises supported: Support for charter schools and higher teacher pay is increasing, according to the 13th annual education survey by the journal Education Next. Among the findings: 56 percent on Americans want higher teacher pay, up 20 percentage points since 2017; 48 percent of Americans support charter schools, up from 39 percent; 49 percent support vouchers, up from 37 percent; 58 percent support tax credit scholarships, up from 53 percent; and 62 percent think K-12 spending should increase, up by 8 percentage points. Education Next. Education Dive. The 74. Florida Phoenix. Education Week. Chalkbeat.

Charter schools: After five days of school, Hillsborough County is reporting a decline of 1,302 pre-K through 12th-grade students at traditional public schools, and an increase of 2,533 attending charter schools. That boosts the percentage of charter school students to 14.6 percent of the district. The count will be updated Sept. 8. Gradebook. Two Sarasota County YMCA fitness centers will remain open after the Dreamers Academy dual-language charter school and two other organizations intervened. WWSB.

Hotel downscaled: A Broward County School Board member switched reservations from a $480-a-night hotel room at a conference next month to a $249 room after being asked about her expenses by a reporter. Rosalind Osgood is attending the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C., Sept. 10-15. The change dropped the total cost for the trip from $3,000 to $1,900. She called the higher expense an “oversight.” Sun Sentinel.

Investigation expanded: The Sarasota County School Board votes 3-2 to expand a sexual harassment investigation to include the alleged victim and the teachers union. Superintendent Todd Bowden asked for the wider inquiry to determine if union officials colluded with the victim in accusing chief operating officer Jeff Maultsby of sexual harassment, and Bowden of ignoring her complaints. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Health care for schools: A company is now offering counseling and psychiatric health care via video systems for Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jackson and Liberty students who are still affected by the destruction caused by Hurricane Michael last year. Let’s Talk Interactive has opened 63 Telehealth kiosks and 63 Telehealth iPad portals in schools. WCTV. WTXL. Florida Politics.

Now free, a calming app: An app designed to calm students is now being offered for free to K-12 Florida teachers. The $60 app, Calm, teaches stress-reducing techniques and relaxation exercises. Sun Sentinel.

School for recovering addicts: High school students fighting addiction are getting help at the River Oak Center in Jacksonville, the only high school in the state that keeps student on track educationally while helping them with their recovery. Dan Renaud, the executive director, says the company is working to open similar schools in Orlando, West Palm Beach and Volusia and Pasco counties. WJAX.

Jewish school growth: In 2015, Hershorin Schiff Community Day School in Sarasota decided to widen its appeal to students of other faiths. Since then the pre-K through 8th grade school has grown from 67 students to 275. Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Community schools: The Hillsborough County School Board has approved the district’s plan to build more community schools, which integrate health and social services into a school’s educational mission. The district has two such schools now, with plans for four more. Gradebook.

Turnover at turnaround school: Last week’s departure of 12 employees at Evergreen Elementary School in Ocala wasn’t the first exodus of employees at the school, which is now being operated by the Jayne Elspermann LLC company under the state’s turnaround program for persistently struggling schools. Thirteen teachers transferred from the school over the summer, including nine whose students’ test scores didn’t improve enough under the state’s rules. Ocala Star-Banner.

Education podcasts: What will education in Florida look like in 2039? That’s the topic for discussion between Patricia Levesque, CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up For Students, which publishes this blog. redefinED.

School construction projects: The state has approved the demolition of buildings on the campuses of Metcalfe and Idylwild elementary schools in Alachua County as the first steps in rebuilding the schools. Eleven buildings will come down at Metcalfe and five at Idylwild. The work is being funded by the half-cent school facilities tax passed by voters last November. Gainesville Sun.

Shelters in a storm: Bay County School District employees will now run emergency shelters that are opened during severe weather, the county commission has decided. Schools are used as shelters, and commissioners thought it made sense for school employees to supervise their operation. Those employees will receive emergency management training. WJHG.

Board member resigning: Andy Dance announces that he’s resigning from the Flagler County School Board in November 2020 to run for a seat on the county commission. Dance was first elected to the board in 2008. Flagler Live.

Personnel moves: Will Messer, the Leon County School District’s risk management coordinator since Aug. 2, resigns under pressure. He says he doesn’t think the move had anything to do with his support of his friend, transportation director Manny Joanos, who was put on leave after problems with a new school bus software system last week. Tallahassee Democrat. Three new principals are appointed to lead schools in Hillsborough County, and four other principals have been transferred to different schools. Gradebook. Mark Kaplan has taken over as principal of Coral Glades High School in Broward County. Coral Springs Talk.

School board sued: The family of a Lee County football player who died from heat stroke during a summer workout has filed a federal lawsuit against the school board, Riverdale High School football coach James Delgado and Lee County Emergency Medical Services. Zachary Martin-Polsenberg, 16, died in 2017. His mother, Laura Giordano, alleges that they failed to provide for his safety and well-being. Fort Myers News-Press.

Fake post causes stir: A Facebook post alleging that Rickards High School in Tallahassee was not allowing students to wear clothes with American flags or Christianity references was fake, say school officials, and has since been deleted. Tallahassee Democrat.

Opinions on schools: High school football is back, and so are the risks of concussions. But only a few school districts are using football helmets with sensors that can measure how hard players get hit in the head. Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel. Convening a statewide grand jury to investigate school officials’ culpability in the Parkland school shooting was a waste of money and time, and does not make our schools safer. Bacardi Jackson, Sun Sentinel. Supporters of Palmetto High School say they’re tired of being neglected by the Manatee County School District, and are exploring the possibility of becoming a charter school. Chris Anderson, Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Student enrichment: Instead of sitting at traditional schools desks, students in Haley Freeman’s English class at Belleview High School in Marion County plop down on couches and chairs. “You feel more relaxed and less stressed,” says student Julie Conover. Ocala Star-Banner. Bay County students are starting to receive Chromebooks from the district to access digital textbooks, and for research and writing assignments. Panama City News Herald. Hundreds of Flagler County students receive free school supplies in the Flagler Back to School Bash. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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