Bowden reaches deal to resign, help for charter schools, plastics use and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Bowden agrees to resign: Embattled Sarasota school Superintendent Todd Bowden has agreed to step down after reaching a settlement with the school board on the terms for his departure. Under the proposal, which has to be officially approved by the board at its next meeting Nov. 19, Bowden would continue to be paid through the end of the year, and receive 20 weeks of severance pay and $65,523 in legal fees. The deal was reached after board member Shirley Brown, a longtime Bowden supporter, told him she now supported his firing. Bowden has been under pressure since a report concluded that he didn’t properly handle a sexual harassment allegation against the district’s chief operations officer, Jeff Maultsby. “I’m fine with it,” board member Eric Robinson said of the deal. “I’m just glad for us to close this chapter and open up a new chapter with the school district.” Chief Operations Officer Jody Dumas will become the acting superintendent. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WWSB. WUSF. WTSP.

Help for charter schools: Proceeds from all future school tax hikes approved by voters would be shared equitably between charter and traditional public schools, if a proposal to add the language to the 2020 legislative tax law is approved. The change is being proposed by Rep. Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville, who also is pushing a bill that would allow Duval County voters to decide if the superintendent’s job should be changed from appointed to elected. Florida Politics.

Schools and plastics: Moves to ban the use of plastic straws, and limit other single-use plastics, have generally been resisted by Florida school districts, according to a conservation group that has been lobbying municipalities. In Martin County, for example, the school district says it generally supports limiting single-use plastics but has pushed back against a call from other government agencies to join a voluntary, nonbinding reduction. “We need to get a handle with facilities and through our food services to be able to say what products are used on campus and what kind of stuff are we talking about and obviously the impact to students,” said Superintendent Laurie Gaylord. TCPalm.

Fight against vaping: Manatee and Sarasota school officials say the number of students caught vaping at their schools has increased 700 percent in the past three years, and they’re aggressively fighting back with substance abuse education and outreach programs that detail the dangers of vaping. “Zero vaping in schools. … that’s the goal,” said George Schrier, the Manatee district’s director of student services. “That’s what’s going to happen. We’re not going to stop. We’ll continue with the educational process and preventative measures until we get that zero percent.” WWSB.

After-school program problems: A Miami-Dade County School District auditor has detailed problems in Jewish center-run after-school programs. The report says Chabad Chayil, near Aventura, misrepresented the programs to get access to public school facilities, operated without a license, couldn’t confirm that it had conducted background checks on employees, and that pressure was put on school administrators by a school board member’s aide to approve contracts with the center. Chabad Chayil has rejected the findings of the report, and blames the school district for paperwork problems and not stepping in if it thought there were problems. Miami Herald.

Rezoning battle: Pasco County parents who are fighting against a school rezoning proposal have gotten one concession from the district and are pressing for more. District officials have agreed to let rising juniors living in one Wesley Chapel subdivision to stay at Wiregrass High School to graduate. Now some parents want that grandfathering extended to lower grade levels. Gradebook.

Fight over preschool plan: Some residents in the Lake Norton neighborhood in Lakeland are campaigning to preserve the historic Deen House instead of allowing it to become a preschool. The homeowners are trying to get approval to turn the house into the Alta Schoolhouse. Lakeland Ledger.

‘LGBTQ mentality’ hit: A conference in Tallahassee today promises to offer ways that public schools can do more to “protect our kids from the dangers of the LGBTQ ideology.” Parent Power 2020, sponsored by the Marianna-based Freedom Speaks Coalition Inc., features state Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola, other members of the Legislature and Ann Bowden, the wife of former FSU football coach Bobby Bowden as speakers and guests. Tallahassee Democrat.

Students hurt in bus crash: Six Orange County elementary school students suffered minor injuries when their school bus was hit by a passing car Monday morning in Orlando. None of the injuries was believed to be serious. Orlando Sentinel. Associated Press.

Opinions on schools: A $200,000 audit into the operations of the Florida Virtual School reveals little that helps us understand what was going on behind the scenes at the virtual school, and how to prevent the collapse of leadership again. Orlando Sentinel. You can blame poor leadership for the Broward County School District’s disastrous school repairs program. Ryan Petty, Sun Sentinel. The demand for a windowless door was an early sign of the troubles ahead for the Sarasota County School District chief operations officer. Chris Anderson, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The good works of the Citrus County Education Foundation show that the power of partnership can be a beautiful thing. Citrus County Chronicle. The teacher salary situation in Florida is affecting the supply of teachers in nearly all subjects. But the situation in math and science subjects is particularly challenging because of the lucrative career options that individuals with strong math and science skills have in other sectors of the economy. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow. Help me understand why some conservatives think progressive education reformers are ruining the school choice movement. Catherine Durkin Robinson, redefinED.

Student enrichment: Students in the Weitz Construction Academy at Seminole Ridge High School in Loxahatchee are building a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house to donate to Habitat for Humanity. WPEC.

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