Scholarship eligibility changes considered, teacher pay hikes, suit against safety assistants and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Scholarship eligibility: Access to the Family Empowerment Scholarship would be improved for economically disadvantaged families under an amendment to S.B. 1220 that may be considered today by the Senate Education Committee. The amendment, proposed by committee chair Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, would expand eligibility by aligning the income requirements between the new scholarship. adopted last year and serving 18,000 students, and the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, which began in 2001 and helps 108,000 students. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer both scholarships. The committee also could consider S.B. 1246, which makes it easier for students who are home-schooled or attend private schools to take dual-enrollment courses. redefinED.

Teacher pay issues: Another potential hurdle has emerged for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to increase teacher pay. The chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee has recommended that the state’s reserves get the extra $400 million in revenue projected last week by the Revenue Estimating Conference. “I do think that the Legislature needs to get more aggressive in funding our reserves by taking advantage of the increase in state revenues just announced by the REC,” said State Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Fleming Island. DeSantis wants more than $900 million to raise starting teacher pay to $47,500 and revise the educator bonuses program. On Thursday, a House subcommittee targeted about $520 million in savings from other state programs and said about $462.2 million of that could be directed to raising teacher pay. Florida Politics.

Safety assistants suit killed: A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to prohibit Duval County schools from using armed school safety assistants for security. A group of parents and two nonprofit groups said allowing the assistants, who are not sworn law enforcement officers, to carry weapons in schools would violate the law and endanger children. The judge acknowledged that the state law authorizing the assistants could have been clearer, but ruled that an exemption was created by the new law and that exemption covered the assistants in their roles supporting school-sanctioned activities. An appeal is planned. WJXT.

Holocaust task force chair: Barbara Goldstein, the executive director of the Holocaust Education Resource Council, has been appointed to chair the education commissioner’s Task Force on Holocaust Education. In that role, she will advise the commissioner and coordinate Holocaust education activities. “As the daughter of two Holocaust survivors, Barbara is uniquely qualified to bring the important lessons of the Holocaust to Florida classrooms,” said Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. Tallahassee Democrat. Florida Department of Education.

Educator honored: Carrie Wilson, a school guidance counselor at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Math in Spring Hill, has been named the Hernando County School District’s teacher of the year. Hernando Sun.

School start times: The only bridge to get to or from Key West will be undergoing repairs starting in mid-April, and Monroe County school officials are considering later school start times in anticipation of widespread traffic delays. Any changes could begin as early as March 23, when students return from spring break. School board member Andy Griffiths said traffic already backs up for a mile into Key West on weekday mornings. “Of course, school starts right around that rush hour time. So what we want to do is try to make those early runs up the Keys and bring the buses back before the rush hour to do the Key West runs,” he said. WLRN. Key West Citizen.

Superintendent search: The Hillsborough County School Board is expected to select a new superintendent today. The finalists are Addison Davis, superintendent of the Clay County School District; Peter Licata, a regional superintendent for the Palm Beach County School District; and Don Haddad, superintendent of the St. Vrain Valley School District in Colorado.  Current Superintendent Jeff Eakins is retiring no later than June 30. WTPS. WTVT. Tampa Bay Times.

Graduation requirements: The Sarasota County School Board is considering making the graduation requirements for Pine View School students more difficult to “preserve the integrity” of the school’s reputation. If the changes are made, students will have to take more of the “rigorous” courses offered and reduce the number of core courses students can take through dual enrollment or online. “This will preserve the integrity and identity of gifted learning experiences for past, present and future students,” said principal Stephen Covert. “It provides a firm grounding in defining what we do as a school, the students we serve.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Graduation rates: Every high school in Lake County improved its graduation rate in 2019, according to the Florida Department of Education and district officials. The district is now just a tenth of a percentage point below the state average of 86.9 percent. Daily Commercial.

Nursing programs: Manatee County School District officials are lobbying the Legislature to allow the state’s technical colleges to offer associate degrees in nursing. They argue that a lack of spaces in the college and university system for would-be nurses could be solved by allowing technical schools to offer the courses. “The bottom line is, we need more nurses than we have slots,” said Manatee school board member Scott Hopes. ”… With this good bill they will have a pathway to stay in our public education system at one-fourth the cost of a private school and with higher pass rates on the nursing exam to continue their career.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School-related elections: State Rep. Bruce Antone, who is leaving his House seat after two terms because of term limits, said he is running for the District 5 seat on the Orange County School Board. He has no opponent yet. Current seat-holder Kathleen Gordon is also exiting because of term limits. Florida Politics.

Opinions on schools: As our nation seeks to expand educational opportunity, we are incredibly fortunate to have both the words and the example of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to study for guidance. Matthew Ladner, redefinED. National School Choice Week starts Sunday. Florida families will have much to celebrate next week, but there’s still much more to do. Matthew Ladner, redefinED.

Student enrichment: Forty-two Miami-Dade County high school seniors were awarded college scholarships from the annual 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, a program that provides mentoring to young men of color. Miami Herald. WPLG.

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