Schools closed until April 15, testing and school grades canceled, graduations, teacher pay and more

School closings extended: Florida’s K-12 schools will be closed at least until April 15, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday. He also said that the required end-of-the-year K-12 state assessment tests for students will be scrapped, that graduation requirements will be re-evaluated to allow for the absence of those test scores, and that school grades will not be issued by the state this summer. Most of the state’s districts are on spring break this week, and last Friday DeSantis extended that by a week so that most students would be out of school until March 30. Now those students, and others whose forced time off ends Friday because they had different spring breaks, will be getting instruction online or through paper assignments delivered to their homes, perhaps by school bus drivers, until schools reopen. Earlier on Tuesday, DeSantis ordered state universities to send students home for the rest of the school year, to conduct classes online and to cancel commencement ceremoniesPolitico Florida. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Florida Phoenix. Florida Politics. Tampa Bay Times. WTVT. WPLG. WSVN. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. Sun Sentinel. WPTV. Florida Times-Union. WJAX. Pensacola News Journal. Naples Daily News. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Tallahassee Democrat. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Flagler Live. Northwest Florida Daily News. Panama City News Herald. WFSU. School districts are preparing for remote learning, and some are struggling. Florida Department of Education. Tampa Bay Times. Northwest Florida Daily News. WJXT. Citrus County Chronicle. USA Today. WSVN. Parents of children with special needs worry about them being adversely affected with learning going online. The 74. What does a day without school look like in America? Chalkbeat. Ways to explain a pandemic to children. Tampa Bay Times.

More coronavirus concerns: More on the coronavirus outbreak in Florida and the United States: President Trump said an emergency stimulus package of as much as $1 trillion or more is being prepared that would include sending checks of up to $1,000 to eligible Americans by the end of April and earmarking another $3 billion for early childhood education programs and K-12 schools; drive-through testing for the virus expands; more districts and other organizations announce their schedules to continue feeding low-income students while schools are closed; and more. Florida Department of Agriculture. Tallahassee Democrat. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lakeland Ledger. WKMG. Fort Myers News-Press. WINK. Naples Daily News. Flagler Live. St. Augustine Record. Daily Commercial. Florida Phoenix. Palm Beach Post. WPTV. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Times-Union. Lakeland Ledger. WTVT. WFTS. Students are scrambling to reschedule after date changes are announced for the SAT, ACT and AP. TCPalm. Questions and answers about the coronavirus, and a glossaryFlorida Department of HealthFlorida Department of Education. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Here are some tips and websites parents can use to keep the learning going while schools are closed. Naples Daily News. Lakeland Ledger. TCPalm. WFLA. WFTS. WTVJ. The Sarasota County School District has postponed public meetings that were scheduled to collect community input into the selection of a new school superintendent. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. School custodians are on the front line of the coronavirus fight. Bradenton Herald.

About those teacher raises: The Legislature’s $93.2 billion budget, which will voted on Thursday, includes $500 million for teacher raises. That’s a lot of money, but it’s about $400 million less than Gov. DeSantis asked for. Critics contended, and even key supporters acknowledged, that it isn’t enough. Starting teachers will get $400 million as the Legislature tried to meet DeSantis’ request for a beginning salary of $47,500. Veteran teachers will have to share $100 million, and for many that could mean no raise at all or perhaps a bump of 1-2 percent. “It’s not exactly what we were looking for,” said Andrew Spar, the vice president of the Florida Education Association teachers union. Still, “the Legislature did heed our concerns. … It’s better than what the governor proposed. But clearly there is a lot of work to do.” Gradebook. Florida Politics. Which teachers will be eligible for raises, how much might they get, and more questions and answers about the state’s plans to raise teacher pay. Gradebook. If the state budget is approved Thursday, the Miami-Dade County School District will receive $60,560,108 of the $500 million allocated for teacher raises, followed by Broward at $47,321,078, Hillsborough at $38,640,324, Orange at $37,397,779, and Palm Beach at $35,844,881, according to the Florida Education Finance Program. News Service of Florida.

Contract negotiations: Most teachers in the Palm Beach County School District will get raises of 3.25 percent after the district and the teachers union reached a contract agreement this week. About 90 percent of the district’s 11,000 teachers are rated highly effective and would get the full 3.25 percent. Those rated effective would get 2.5 percent. Starting salaries would remain at $41,000 a year under the deal, which would cost the district $24.6 million this year. If the contract is ratified by the union members and approved by the school board, the raises will be retroactive to the beginning of the school year. This deal is independent of the Legislature’s proposal to raise teacher pay. Palm Beach Post.

School tax shift renewed: Monroe County voters overwhelmingly renewed a school funding initiative that allows the district to move money from the building fund to operations, which can be used for increasing teacher salaries and classroom needs. The “flexible funding” plan has been approved by voters five times, and it has helped the district maintain its position of offering the highest starting teacher pay in the state. Miami Herald. Key West Citizen.

District’s swing school: Alachua County School Board members have agreed to temporarily house students from schools under renovation for the next three years at the Westwood Middle School campus. Portable classrooms will be set up on Westwood’s property to accommodate 600 Howard Bishop Middle School students during the 2020-2021 school year. The following year Westwood students would move to the portables while their school is renovated, and in 2022-2023 Littlewood Elementary students would use the portables. The decision to make Westwood the “swing school” had been delayed in December when parents complained, but after further study board members decided it was the best option. Gainesville Sun.

Regional rankings: Students in Hernando and Pasco counties performed well against their peers from Hillsborough and Pinellas in state assessment tests and final exams, according to the Tampa Bay Partnership’s annual State of the Region report. But the Tampa Bay region, which also includes Sarasota, Manatee, Polk and Citrus counties, compared unfavorably with 19 other peer U.S. communities, said Dave Sobush, director of policy and research for the partnership. The group measures the regions’ competitiveness in building an economy. Tampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools: With implications in markets, government policies, and international trade, the teaching of high school economics bridges the sciences and arts to relate to business, social sciences of politics and history, and liberal arts. Jason Means, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. It’s time for the Florida High School Athletic Association to lead and cancel the spring sports season. Jon Santucci, TCPalm. Some educators worry that online learning will be inequitable. But no learning at all is worse. Robin Lake, The 74.

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