Moment of silence: The final Senate committee has signed off on a bill creating a moment of silence every morning in every Florida public school. S.B. 946 was approved by the Senate Rules Committee in a 10-6 vote, and now goes before the full Senate. Its companion, H.B. 737, will be voted on today by the full House. State Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, the bill’s sponsor, said the moment, could help set a “different tone” for the school day. “Even a moment can change your perspective on a lot of things,” he said. The moment would be no less than a minute but no more than two, and teachers would not be permitted to tell students what to reflect on. News Service of Florida. Gradebook. Florida Politics.
School board term limits: A resolution asking voters to consider a cap of eight consecutive years for local school board members has been approved by the Senate Rules Committee, and now goes to the full Senate for a vote. Its prospects are uncertain, since it has to win the approval of 60 percent of the 40 members. All 17 members of the Democratic caucus oppose it, as well as at least one Republican. But if it is approved by the Senate, S.B. 1480 would be merged with a bill that has already cleared the House to put a constitutional amendment before voters in November, which would also have to get at least 60 percent of the votes to go into effect. News Service of Florida. Florida Politics. Gradebook.
Minimum arrest age: A state senator has amended a bill that would ban arrests of children under a certain age. Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Ocoee, originally set that limit in his bill at 12 years old, but dropped it to age 10 to line up with laws in other states. “I think the senators that wanted to support it felt more comfortable that we be in line with the rest of the country,” said Bracy. “I think we’re in a good position to hopefully pass this amendment.” The bill will be heard today in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Orlando Sentinel. WOFL. Records obtained about the arrest of a 6-year-old girl from the Lucious & Emma Nixon Academy in Orlando last September disclosed that several officers questioned the necessity of making the arrest. But officer Dennis Turner insisted he had no choice and took the girl to booking in restraints. “I don’t want to do this, I have to,” Turner said to another officer. The arrest caused a national uproar, leading to the charges being dropped and Turner being fired. Orlando Sentinel.
Parental rights bill: A proposal that would create a bill of rights for parents to opt their children out of certain instructional topics failed to get out of the Senate Rules Committee on Monday. The committee adjourned in the middle of debate when it ran up to the committee’s scheduled end time, which may have killed the bill’s chances in the Senate since the committee has no more scheduled meetings this session. State Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, claimed that the timeout was intentional. “I think there’s not a will to do it this year,” she said. “I don’t think they want to publicly admit that because it’s called ‘parental rights.’ ” Tampa Bay Times. Florida Politics.
Coronavirus fears: Florida school districts continue to refine and announce their plans to deal with a potential coronavirus outbreak, including extra cleaning care in schools and giving students hints about healthy habits. Sun Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Times-Union. Tallahassee Democrat. Lakeland Ledger. Pensacola News Journal. TCPalm. WPTV. Panama City News Herald. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Charlotte Sun. WUSF. WWSB. WWSB. WTXL. WCTV. WPLG. WKMG. WINK. WMBB. WJHG. The CDC has confirmed that two people in Florida have the coronavirus, and Gov. Ron DeSantis predicts there will be more cases. Both victims are quarantined and in stable condition, according to state health officials. DeSantis and other officials said the risk of contracting the virus remains low, but called on anyone who has traveled to a high-risk country to isolate themselves and notify health officials. More than 180 people in Florida are being monitored, and results of eight tests are pending. Associated Press. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Sun Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. Florida Politics. Florida Phoenix. Questions and answers about the coronavirus. Florida Department of Health. Palm Beach Post. WLRN. WFLA. WTVT. Tampa Bay Times. WFTX. Six things schools can do to respond. Education Week. A student at the Sarasota Military Academy and his mother have been quarantined because they came into contact with the Manatee County woman who has the coronavirus. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida Politics. Tampa Bay Times. Bradenton Herald.
Board of education: The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee has narrowly voted in favor of the appointment of Ryan Petty to the Florida Board of Education. Petty’s 14-year-old daughter Alaina was among the 17 people killed during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018. Petty served on the state panel that investigated the response to the shootings and made recommendations to improve school safety. He also ran for a seat on the Broward County School Board in 2018 but lost. That loss, coupled with several controversial statements he’s made about school officials, African-Americans, Jews, Muslims, gays, liberals and unions, prompted three committee members to vote against the appointment, which now moves on for a vote by the full Senate. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Florida Politics. Sun Sentinel.
Security in schools: Teachers and students in Florida schools have several ways to report threats. But are there too many options? “What you don’t want is a half-dozen systems in place and confusion where people don’t know where to go,” said school security expert Ken Trump. “When there is a school threat that poses a risk to the safety of children, we want less ambiguity and uncertainty and not have confusing systems so that people just give up and don’t report at all.” WFTS.
Electing a superintendent: A bill that would have asked Duval County voters to decide whether to have an elected or appointed superintendent is stuck in Senate and House committees, and opponents said it appears to be dead for this legislative session. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn March 13. The bill was proposed by state Rep. Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville, and supported by the county’s legislative delegation. But it was opposed by the school board, and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry recently reversed his backing of the bill. Florida Times-Union.
Housing for teachers: An analysis comparing median teacher income to median rental costs in all 67 Florida counties shows that most teachers around the state are spending 33 percent or more on housing. Experts said any housing that costs more than 30 percent of a person’s income is considered unaffordable. No district pays starting teachers enough to get under that 30 percent threshold, and things don’t improve much even as teachers earn more with experience. Only three districts — Escambia, Leon and Putnam — have a median salary that meets the state’s relatively high cost of living, according to the analysis. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
New school: Construction on an elementary school in Viera that opens in August is on schedule to be completed as expected in June. The school, which has yet to be named, will open as a K-6 school with no more than 600 students but with plans to eventually expand to 970. The opening will help ease overcrowding at nearby nearby Quest and Manatee elementaries. Florida Today.
School programs: The Cambridge International program has long been associated with middle and high schools, but now it’s being introduced into several Pasco County elementary schools over the new few years. The advanced specialty program is being eased in at Northwest, Gulfside, Gulf Trace and Sunray as well as Hudson Middle and Hudson High. “There’s so much with the standards that we have to teach,” said Sheri Gregory, a 1st-grade teacher at San Antonio Elementary, which already has Cambridge. “With Cambridge we take it above and beyond that.” Tampa Bay Times. U.S. Army officials were in Ocala last weekend to discuss the Marion County School District’s plans to begin a Military Choice Academy at the Marion Technical Institute next fall. The district is trying to accommodate the students who were displaced when the Marion Military Academy closed in December. Ocala Star-Banner.
Charter school renewal: Hernando County School Board members have approved a three-year contract renewal for the BEST Academy charter school in Brooksville. A district administrator had recommended a two-year renewal, but the board noted the school’s improvement to a B grade from the state in adding a third year. Tampa Bay Times.
Student procrastination: Florida students rank second in the nation for procrastinating on their homework at least some of the time, trailing just Louisiana, according to a survey by the educational technology company Brainly. About 15 percent of Florida students between the ages of 14 and 18 admitted they procrastinate “all the time.” The top cause for the pause in work? Students say they’d just rather be doing something else. This week is “National Procrastination Week.” Sun Sentinel.
Board faces lawsuit: Several parents said they will sue the Clay County School District after their children were sickened Feb. 7 when they unknowingly consumed food laced with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. A student brought the food to Oakleaf Junior High School in Jacksonville and shared it. The teacher and several students later said they felt sick, and tested positive for THC. The district’s policy states that “foods prepared outside the Food and Nutrition Services cafeterias may not be served to the students within the school meals program.” WTLV.
Teacher suspensions proposed: The Broward County School Board will consider a proposal to suspend two teachers who heard students talking about a threat a boy made against the Whiddon-Rogers Education Center, an alternative school in Fort Lauderdale for students with academic problems, but did not report it. Social studies teacher Kenneth Miller and science teacher N’Kenge Rawls each face a one-day suspension. If the board approves the suspension today, both teachers said they will appeal. Sun Sentinel.
Employees and the law: The director of professional development for the Martin County School District was arrested and accused of driving under the influence. Matthew Wlodarczyk, 49, was arrested Saturday night in Stuart. TCPalm.
Opinions on schools: The sales tax referendum for Duval County’s schools is long overdue. Florida Times-Union. To continue combating the dangers of vaping and ensuring the health and well-being of citizens across the state, Florida lawmakers must take a stand by establishing stricter penalties for those caught selling tobacco products to underage customers and making smoking cessation education a top priority particularly for middle and high school students. Melissa Rubio, Orlando Sentinel. How can we make sure that parents have the information they need to make the best course selection decisions for their children? Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.