Lobbying against reinstatement, academic standards, district police and more

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Lobbying against ex-sheriff: Parents of students murdered in the 2018 Parkland school shooting held a press conference Monday to urge state senators to vote against reinstalling Scott Israel as Broward County sheriff. The senators meet in special session next week to consider a special master’s recommendation that Israel be reinstated; he had been removed from the job by Gov. Ron DeSantis for his department’s actions during the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “He should’ve resigned and should not be trying to get his job back,” said Max Schachter, whose son Alex was among the 17 people killed. Sun Sentinel. Miami Herald.

Academic standards: Florida should go back to the pre-Common Core academic standards, a teacher suggested at a Florida Department of Education town meeting  Monday in Palm Beach County that was held as part of a listening tour to discuss proposed revisions to the state academic standards. Others suggested streamlining algebra standards, placing an emphasis on social emotional learning and adding multisensory learning for dyslexic children. The meeting with the fourth of nine scheduled around the state through Oct. 23. WLRN. WPTV. WUSF. Florida Department of Education.

District’s police director: Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander is expected to be named director of school police for the Palm Beach County School District by the school board on Wednesday. The position is a new one, reporting to Police Chief Frank Kitzerow, to help manage the rapidly growing department. In 2017 the force had just under 100 officers, but it’s expected to grow to 240 by the end of the year. Alexander, who had been Boca’s police chief for 13 years, will be paid somewhere between $100,000 and $156,000 a year. Palm Beach Post.

Contract negotiations: The Alachua County School District and the teachers union have reached a tentative contract agreement that gives teachers a 2 percent raise, a step increase, and earmarks $300,000 for bonuses. The deal would also boost pay for support employees such as paraprofessionals, food service workers and custodians by 60 cents an hour. The deal still needs the approval of the union members and the school board. Gainesville Sun.

Naming schools: Two beloved, late educators and an area of the county are among the most popular suggestions for a name for the newest Hillsborough high school being built in the Balm area. Many residents nominated Dorothy York, an English teacher at Hillsborough and Blake high schools, and Carolyn Hill, who was principal at Just and Kenley elementary schools. Variations of the term SouthShore, the location of the school, were also popular. The school board is expected to make its choice today. The school opens next August. Gradebook. Gateway High School is far and away the choice for a name for a new high school in Lee County, according to more than 1,920 responses from the public. Gateway, which is what the area of county is called where the school is being built, was chosen by 815 respondents. Thomas Edison High School was second with 54 votes, followed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. High School with 41 votes. The school board will review the top four Thursday, with a final vote scheduled Nov. 5. The school is expected to open in 2021. Fort Myers News-Press.

Medical marijuana policy: The Pasco County School Board will be considering a update in the district’s “use of medications” policy to allow medical marijuana to be administered on campus under certain conditions. The board had no policy and had no plans to make one, but has been pushed by the state to create a policy before the end of the year. The policy would require a caregiver or parent to administer the drug on campuses, and the drug would have to be removed from campuses after it’s been administered. A public hearing is scheduled Oct. 29, followed by a board vote at its next meeting. Gradebook.

Human trafficking: Former workers in the sex industry say students will benefit from information about human trafficking that is presented in public schools, as is now required by a new state rule. State official agree. “I think it is going to be an eye-opener for our students,” said Valerie Ellery, the Florida Department of Education’s new human trafficking education specialist. “We are very grateful we are able to have this rule passed so we can start doing education.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The state is reviewing the Collier County School District’s human trafficking curriculum proposal for elementary and middle school students. WINK.

District’s SAT scores: Students who graduated from Volusia County high schools last year had a better average SAT score than seniors did the previous year, and also beat the state average. Volusia’s graduates averaged 1053, 5 points higher than the previous year and significantly better than the state average of 999. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Val-sal controversy: Next week’s Monroe County School Board meeting is expected to be dominated by the debate over a district proposal to do away with the selection of valedictorians and salutatorians at high schools. A committee studying the issue is recommending the district go to summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude recognition for weighted grade point averages of 4.0-4.5. Others say the competition to become a val or sal motivates students toward higher achievements. Key West Citizen.

Continuing education for teachers: Continuing education for teachers is vital to improve teachers and, in turn, student performance, several state education officials and superintendents told the Senate Education Committee at a hearing on Monday. “We have to find a way to expand best practices that are working,” said Pinellas County Superintendent Michael Grego. Walton County Superintendent Russell Hughes agreed, saying: “We have to do it because the end result is we want success in those classroom.” Florida Politics.

Superintendent search: The seven candidates for the Volusia County School District superintendent’s job have completed their homework assignments. School board members will evaluate their answers to three questions and choose which applicants to interview next month to replace interim Superintendent Tim Egnor. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Courtesy bus rides: Some students who live less than 2 miles from Hobe Sound Elementary School will be getting courtesy busing because of some construction-created hazardous walking conditions between their neighborhoods and the school. Martin County school officials would not say how many students were affected or what the busing would cost. TCPalm.

Personnel moves: Amy Envall has been named the chief counsel for the Orange County School Board. She replaces Diego Rodriguez, who was named general counsel for the Central Florida Expressway Authority. West Orange Observer.

Employee arrested: A former Duval County school bookkeeper has been arrested and accused of stealing more than $36,000 from Garden City Elementary School. District officers arrested Tramaine Jones, 36, last week after an investigation into the missing funds. Jones resigned about a month after the investigation began in June. Florida Times-Union. WJAX. WJXT.

Opinions on schools: Regardless of whether Gov. Ron DeSantis achieves all, some, or none of his stated goal of raising starting teacher pay to $47,500, he has already won. He is now an education governor. Mac Stipanovich, Tampa Bay Times. Shame on school choice for helping students in too many ways. Robert Holland, Townhall.com. The Sarasota County School District’s first ever professional day devoted to student’s social and emotional learning makes a case for teaching to the whole child. Carrie Seidman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Student enrichment: Several Lee County schools have created outdoor “sensory paths” on campus to help fidgety students and those with some sensory processing disorders take a “brain break” so they can better focus in classes. Fort Myers News-Press. The Brevard Schools Foundation is offering free hygiene products for low-income students through its Supply Zone for Teachers store, starting in November. Space Coast Daily.

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Jim Booth graduated from Mount Union College (in Alliance, Ohio, with a degree in political science and American studies) and began his career as a reporter at a small newspaper in Ohio. He and his family moved to St. Petersburg in 1978, and he held a variety of positions in the newsrooms of the St. Petersburg Evening Independent and the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) before retiring in 2013.