Trump’s budget pares spending on education, college consolidation proposal, education bills and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Trump education budget: The Trump administration is proposing a $4.8 trillion budget for the 2021 fiscal year that would cut billions in education spending. It scales down the Education Department and would combine the federal Charter Schools Program with 28 others to create a $19.4 billion block grant program that would “empower states and districts to decide how to best use federal funds to meet the needs of their students,” according to the budget document. “We know states will spend their money differently, and that’s okay,” said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “In fact, that’s what we hope they do. They know best how to serve their students.” Removed from the budget was funding for after-school programs for low-income students, for programs in rural schools and magnet schools, and for homeless and migrant students. “Chilling,” is what Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, called the proposal. “President Trump has consistently said that school choice is a priority for his administration, but this budget, if enacted, would leave families in need with fewer school options. So I think in many, in some ways, they are confirming some of the assertions made in the past, which is that their agenda is more about private school choice than it is about public school choice and this budget definitely confirms that.” Politico. The 74. Education Week. Chalkbeat.

College consolidation: The House Education Committee will consider a plan Wednesday to fold Sarasota’s New College into Florida State University and Lakeland’s Florida Polytechnic University into the University of Florida. The schools are the two newest and smallest in the state university system. “We have an obligation to taxpayers to generate degrees at the lowest possible cost. Unfortunately, degrees earned from Florida Poly and New College cost an order of magnitude more than they do at the other 10 universities,” said state Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida Politics.

Moment of silence: The House bill creating a moment of silence for students at the beginning of each school day was passed unanimously on Monday by the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee. Its next stop is the House Education Committee, and if it’s passed there it goes to the full House. A companion bill in the Senate also has just one committee left to clear before a full chamber vote. The moment of “silent reflection” would be for no less than one minute and no more than two, said the bill sponsor, state Rep. Kimberly Daniels, D-Jacksonville. News Service of Florida. Florida Politics. WFSU.

School board term limits: A bill that would ask Florida’s voters to approve a constitutional amendment to limit local school members to two consecutive terms in office was approved Monday by the Senate Education Committee on a 5-3 vote, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. It still must be approved by the Rules Committee, which killed it last year, before the full Senate considers it. The House companion bill has been cleared for a floor vote. Each bill must be collect 60 percent of the votes in each chamber to be placed before voters in November. At least 60 percent of voters would then have to approve it in order for it to enter the Florida Constitution. Gradebook. Florida Politics.

Compensating athletes: A “bill of rights” for college athletes was unanimously approved Monday by the Senate Education Committee, despite some misgivings expressed by some of the panel’s members. The bill, which was filed by Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Rockledge, is similar to a House bill that has one more committee to clear before being heard by the full House. The Senate bill has to clear two more committees. The measure allows college athletes to be compensated for the use of their “name, image, likeness or persona,” and would require schools to provide athletes with insurance, offer them life skills and financial training, and extend grants for up to one academic year after an athlete’s eligibility has ended and up to five years for athletes who are injured and can no longer play. News Service of Florida. WFSU.

Safety in schools: President Trump met with parents of the Parkland school shooting victims in Washington on Monday to unveil a federal website that makes best school safety practices easily available to all school districts. The clearinghouse, at schoolsafety.gov, provides tips for districts to protect schools, identify gaps in security, offers ways to deal with students’ mental health issues, and even how to apply for federal grants. “It’s the most significant action government has taken to educate schools … to prevent acts of targeted violence,” said Max Schachter, whose son Alex was among the 17 victims. One parent of a victim who was not invited to the meeting was Fred Guttenberg, who was ejected from the gallery for yelling at Trump during the State of the Union speech on Feb. 4. Sun Sentinel. Miami Herald. Associated Press. WLRN. WPLG.

Baker-Acted at age 6: A Duval County mother is demanding to know why her 6-year-old daughter was removed from Love Grove Elementary School in Jacksonville on Feb. 4 under the Baker Act and taken to a behavioral health center for observation. The girl, who has been diagnosed with ADHD and has a mood disorder, simply had a “temper tantrum,” said the mother, Martina Falk. A district spokeswoman said a review of the incident concluded that the school acted appropriately, and that the decision to invoke the Baker Act was made by a social worker. Florida Times-Union. WJXT.

Educators honored: Will Furiosi, a science teacher at Oviedo High School, has been named the Seminole County School District’s teacher of the year. . Orlando Sentinel. Tara Ward, a middle school English teacher at the preK-8 Apalachicola Bay Charter School, has been named the Franklin County School District’s teacher of the year. Oyster Radio. Finalists have been named for the Lake County School District’s rookie teacher of the year and school-related employee of the year awards. The winners will be announced April 15. Daily Commercial.

School decision due: The Florida Board of Education could decide Wednesday if a persistently struggling Pinellas County school can stay under the control of the district or must be turned over to a charter school company if it doesn’t receive a C grade from the state this summer. Lakewood Elementary School in St. Petersburg has not gotten a grade higher than D since 2012, was the lowest-performing elementary school in the state during the 2017-2018 school year and received an F last year. The district has partnered with an outside company to run the school the past two years, and is asking for one more year to turn its performance around. Gradebook.

Charter schools: A Broward County charter school that says it will be one of the most secure campuses in the state is scheduled to open next fall just three miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, site of the 2018 shooting in which 17 people died. Parkland Somerset Academy will have, among other things, a controlled entrance gate with a license plate reader, a 6-foot fence around the property and an 8-foot fence around the school, real-time surveillance cameras, a lobby with bullet-resistant glass, two bullet-resistant doors separating the front office from the classrooms, and two uniformed police officers. The school expects to have about 500 students in K-6 in August, and gradually grow to a K-8 for 1,280 students. Sun Sentinel. School officials from Manatee and Sarasota counties talk about charter schools at a League of Women Voters meeting. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School gets health clinic: Bradenton Southeast High School has become home to the first on-campus health clinic in the Manatee County School District, which hopes to open two more clinics. District officials partnered with MCR Health to provide treatment for illnesses ranging from the flu to diabetes, immunizations, sports physicals, wellness exams and screenings for dental, vision and hearing issues. A federal grant is paying for a coordinator and a social worker, and MCR renovated two portable classrooms and will provide medical staff. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Discipline overturned: An administrative law judge has recommended that a suspension be overturned for a Broward County teacher who made comments that could be considered insensitive but not malicious. “The undersigned recommends … that the district think long and hard about whether to base the suspension or termination of a teacher on a minor, unintentional transgression such as this,” wrote administrative law judge John G. Van Laningham. “Doing so would signal that small offenses justify high outrage and serious consequences, thereby encouraging students to report on their teachers for ever more trivial infractions.” Gradebook.

Students from Puerto Rico: The Volusia County School District has enrolled 33 students whose schools in Puerto Rico have been closed by an earthquake in January. About 80 percent of the island’s public schools closed after the 6.4-magnitude earthquake, which has been followed by a series of tremors. Volusia has some experience with this sort of migration; almost 150 students from the island enrolled in district schools after Hurricane Maria in 2017. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Choice complaints: A combination of a Pasco County School District error and parents not following directions on school choice enrollment has been causing confusion in the process. District officials said for the most part the problems have been fixed. Tampa Bay Times.

Administrator/author: Kevin Thompson, an assistant principal at South Lake High School in Groveland, will have his sixth suspense novel released Feb. 22. He began writing in 2010, and his first book, about an underwater Jurassic World, was published in 2012. Daily Commercial.

Employees and the law: A Polk County teacher has been arrested and accused of driving under the influence. Deputies said Jeff Gulden, 49, a teacher at Lakeland Kathleen High School, also was towing a camper that was later found to be stolen. Lakeland Ledger. WFLA.

Explicit videos sent: Sheriff’s deputies are trying to track down a mysterious Snapchat user who has been sending sexually explicit videos to Martin County middle school students since last weekend. WPTV.

Opinions on schools: A key question before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue is this: Would a favorable decision for the parents on the legality of tax credit scholarships mean states would violate the Constitution if they failed to directly fund both public and private schools? Leslie Hiner, redefinED. We already term limit our president, governor, cabinet, state legislature and countless local offices to eight years in office. Now is the time to adopt this same principle for school boards. Nicolas Tomboulides, Sun Sentinel.

Student enrichment: Special education students at the Doris A. Sanders Learning Center in Lakeland are learning to work a garden as a way to build self-reliance and learn skills they could use after they age out of the program. Lakeland Ledger.

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