Education budget details, civics education consultants, mental health and more

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Education budget details: The Florida Department of Education’s $22.3 billion budget request includes $174 million for capital projects at charter schools; $73 million more for K-12 scholarship programs, including $42 million more for Gardiner scholarships for disabled students; $40 million more for the Schools of Hope charter program; $25.4 million for technology upgrades for security at schools; $23 million more for Brights Futures scholarships; and $12.1 million to outsource services. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer several K-12 scholarship programs. Politico Florida. Gradebook.

Civics education: Several out-of-state groups that are financed by ideological and politically connected donors are among those chosen to consult with Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran in a review of the state’s civics teaching materials. Among the consulting groups are Hillsdale College, a Christian college in Michigan with ties to charter schools, and the Bill of Rights Institute, which was founded by the libertarian Koch family. Florida Phoenix.

Mental health courses: Most educators and experts agree that providing five hours of mental health instruction to all Florida K-12 students is a good idea, but they’re not sure how they’re going to structure the courses or if they can meet the December deadline to submit their plans to the state. Florida is just the third state to mandate such instruction.  Palm Beach Post.

Security in schools: The chairman of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission says the panel will look into contracts public school districts have signed with private companies to provide training for school guardians. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced the move after an investigation in Palm Beach County criticized the “shoddy” training given to charter school guards by a private company. News Service of Florida. The Flagler County School District has ended its contract with a company that was hired to review students’ social media posts for threats. “We didn’t think we were getting the results that we were expecting, and there were other avenues coming online with the state,” says district spokesman Jason Wheeler. The district had agreed to pay Social Sentinel $55,000 over three years, but ended the deal after one and has hired CrisisGo. Flagler Live.

School enrollment: Even though overall student enrollment in Bay County schools is down 12 percent less than a year after Hurricane Michael swept through the area, some schools are showing increases. The number of students has gone up at West Bay Elementary, Mosley High School and the Deane Bozeman School. Panama City News Herald.

Dual enrollment: Only 44 students have signed up for dual-enrollment classes under an agreement between school districts in Manatee and Sarasota counties and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. The new deal was signed in May after the districts ended their agreement with State College of Florida. More than 600 students took the dual-enrollment courses last year. Charlotte Sun.

Walkout planned: Students at a Manatee County charter school that was recently taken over by the district plan a walkout today to protest. The school board ended the contract with Lincoln Memorial Academy a month ago, after the school’s ongoing financial problems. School supporters have been critical of the move. Bradenton Herald.

Education podcasts: Hillsborough County teachers union employees talk about what they call being “voluntold” by their principals to do work, and the pressure they feel to comply. Gradebook.

New schools: St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, which offers students a chance to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, has opened a second location in Tarpon Springs. St. Petersburg College. Escambia County school officials say a $38 million elementary school will open in the fall of 2022 on the west side of the county. It will replace Pleasant Grove Elementary, and carry the same name. Pensacola News Journal.

Personnel moves: Daniella Hudzina is named the principal at Vineland Elementary School in Charlotte County. The school board will vote on the appointment next month. Charlotte Sun.

Homeless students: The Marion County School District is revising its Homeless & Needy Children Program to improve accounting, bookkeeping and accountability procedures. District officials say 2,176 students qualify for benefits through the program. That’s about 5 percent of the district’s enrollment. Ocala Star-Banner.

Pioneering kicker: Lake Region High School in Polk County has its first female football player. Issy Pita, a 16-year-old, handled kickoffs and after-point duties in last week’s preseason game against Fort Meade. Lakeland Ledger.

Teacher removed from class: A Duval County teacher has been removed from his classroom after criticizing students who don’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or national anthem. Daniel Adam Goodman, a First Coast High School science teacher, wrote on his classroom whiteboard that students who didn’t stand weren’t “revealing [their] maturity and wisdom. Actually, you are displaying the opposite (as some pampered arrogant celebrities and athletes tend to do).” Florida Times-Union.

Bullet pierces school window: A bullet was fired through the window of a St. Petersburg church preschool on Thursday afternoon. Eleven students, all 2 years, were in the room at Allendale United Methodist Church at the time, but none was injured. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA.

Student hit by car: Police are looking for a driver who hit a 4-year-old boy getting off a school bus in Pasco County with his pickup truck and then drove away. The boy is expected to recover. WTSP. WTVT.

Threats in schools: An 18-year-old student at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg is arrested and accused of threatening to shoot his classmates. Officers have petitioned for a court order to prevent the student from having access to guns or ammunition. Tampa Bay Times. A senior at Palmetto High School in Manatee County is under investigation for allegedly posting an online “manifesto” that might have been used to recruit students for an organization. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Bradenton Herald. A Nova High School student is arrested and accused of making threats against his Broward County school on social media. Sun Sentinel. WFOR. Miami Herald. A 12-year-old student at Burns Middle School in Tampa is arrested after allegedly making a threat on social media to shoot up her school. Tampa Bay Times.

Students escape kidnapping: A 12-year-old student who was kidnapped while walking home from school Wednesday in Boynton Beach escaped by jumping out of a moving pickup truck. The 26-year-old driver is accused of kidnapping a child under the age of 13, resisting arrest with violence and child neglect. Palm Beach Post. Sun Sentinel. A student at Seabreeze High School in Volusia County said a man tried to get her into his car. The girl, who was practicing with the cross-country team, told Daytona Beach police that she ran away to join some teammates and the man drove off. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Opinions on schools: Special education is a complex topic, dealing with dozens of laws, hundreds of unique needs and thousands of children across the state. The one-size-fits-all educational concept cannot be a solution. Parents of children with special needs must have a choice, even if you don’t like my choice. Donna Berman, Orlando Sentinel. Having more psychologists in schools and requiring suicide assessments are ways to cut down on the number of children being involuntarily committed under the Baker Act. Fort Myers News-Press.

Student enrichment: Eleven Alachua County students recorded perfect scores of 36 on the ACT and 1,600 on the SAT during the 2018-2019 school year. Gainesville Sun.

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