School reopening reimagined, virus cost to schools, superintendent leaving, timing of tax votes and more

Reimagining reopenings: A blend of in-person and online classes is likely to be the model for Manatee County students when schools resume in August, Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said Tuesday. “In my opinion, I don’t know how we can adhere to any social distancing or those requirements established by the CDC with 100 percent of students on campus,” she said. She expects to produce a detailed proposal in a few weeks that would be released to the public for feedback. Bradenton Herald. The Duval County School Board will spend $300,000 to provide reusable masks for every student, teacher and school employee next fall, and also is considering physical barriers and staggered school days. Board members are asking parents their preferences on what they want to see next fall. The survey will give parents several choices, such as delaying the start of the school year, resuming traditional schooling, continuing online education, using some combination of the two, and more. Florida Times-Union. WJXT. Orange County school officials are also conducting a survey to get the thoughts of parents about what they’d prefer next fall. Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said that while the state “will probably largely guide what we’ll be able to do,” the input will be valuable for the district. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. Both the Escambia and Santa Rosa school districts expect a return to classrooms in the fall, and are starting to work on the details. WEAR. Seven distance learning priorities to consider before reopening schools. KQED.

The coronavirus cost: American schools need to spend about $41 billion next year on remote learning to extend the school year to make up for days lost when schools were closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, and expand food services for the expected surge in the number of low-income students, according to an analysis by Michael Griffith of the Learning Policy Institute. This comes at a time when school budgets are expected to be cut up to 30 percent. Education Week. An interactive tool estimates how much more money states will have to spend next year and projected revenue losses in the coming years. Education Week. Another report, this one from the Albert Shanker Institute, looks at the aftermath of school funding during the 2008 recession to suggest that low-income schools will bear the brunt of budget cutbacks because of the coronavirus. T.H.E Journal.

Superintendent retiring: Polk County school Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd announced she is retiring next February, and cited her increasingly contentious relationship with the school board as a factor in her decision. Byrd took the job in 2016 and has led the district to improvement in its grade from the state from C to B, its graduation rate to 88 percent, and in eliminating F-rated schools. But she also blamed some board members who “have either acted or attempted to act in ways that materially blur the respective roles and responsibilities of the school board (policy and budget) and superintendent (operations). Morever, the willful and increasing overreach has been unprecedented in my 32 years of experience in education, including 13 years in senior leadership positions,” and added that “disharmony has become a major roadblock” to success. Lakeland Ledger. WFTS.

Tax votes timing: Indian River County commissioners won’t reconsider their decision to place the renewal of a half-mill property tax for schools on the November ballot. The school board wanted it to go to voters on the Aug. 18 primary ballot, but commissioners voted to put it on the November ballot because the turnout would be higher. Board members voted Tuesday to ask a court to decide which agency has the authority to decide when a tax issue is placed on a ballot. Superintendent David Moore said the district is asking “for a decision as it relates to the interpretation of statute. This is a question in which we are on different sides of a statute and how it’s being interpreted.” TCPalm. The Sarasota County School Board narrowly decided to keep a request for the renewal of its extra property tax for schools on the ballot next March instead of moving it to this November. Two members of the board had pushed for the change, citing the expense of a special election and lower voter turnout. Sarasota County Herald-Tribune.

These graduations won’t drag: Graduating seniors from seven Alachua County high schools will drive down the quarter-mile dragstrip at the Gainesville Raceway next month, get out of their cars and then walk across a stage to get their diplomas. The graduation ceremonies are June 8-10. “We’re happy we can help the Class of 2020 have a graduation ceremony,” said track manager Mike Yurick. “We hope it will be a memorable experience for them.” Two Flagler County high schools will have similar experiences at Daytona International Speedway. Gainesville Sun. WCJB. WJAX. Mount Dora High School in Lake County will hold its graduation ceremonies in the parking lot of Renninger’s Flea Market. Spectators can drive up and park and watch seniors cross a stage to receive their diplomas. Meanwhile, a petition is circulating to restore traditional graduation ceremonies. WOFL. WESH. Lee County school officials announce the schedule for their virtual graduations. WINK.

More on the coronavirus: The Leon County School District and the sheriff’s office are investigating the hacking into the remote-learning accounts of several students at the preK-8 Fort Braden School. Inappropriate comments were posted during student group chats with teachers. Tallahassee Democrat. Putnam County School Board members have extended emergency powers for Superintendent Rick Surrency through the next scheduled board meeting June 16. Palatka Daily News. Brevard County school officials said they’re canceling school camps and child-care at schools for the summer. Space Coast Daily. The mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, is proposing that Internet access be treated like a utility and be piped into every home in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. The school district would then pay $16 a month per home for the service. The 74.

AP testing problems: After 10,000 or more U.S. students had technical problems taking or submitting their Advanced Placement exams last week, the College Board has added an extra layer of protection for those who are taking them this week. Students who have problems submitting their answers this week will be immediately notified that the delivery failed and be issued an email address to send their work to instead. That option is not available to the students who had problems last week, and they’ll have to retake the test next month. Florida Phoenix. Los Angeles Times.

Education podcasts: Florida Virtual School president and CEO Louis Algaze talks about the online school’s rapid expansion and the role it might play in the future. redefinED.

Personnel moves: Mark Dorsett, a maintenance manager who has worked in the Broward County School District since 1986, has been named the executive director of the district’s maintenance department. Sun Sentinel.

Teacher on Jeopardy!: Amanda Baltimore, a 7th-grade science teacher at DeLaura Middle School in Brevard County, will compete in the Jeopardy! teachers tournament. The tournament was filmed in February, and the broadcasts begin May 25. The annual tournament has 15 K-12 teachers competing for a $100,000 grand prize and a position in the next Tournament of Champions. WKMG.

Opinions on schools: Dear President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis: What started out as parental involvement has gone overboard. Parents who aren’t teachers shouldn’t be forced to become teachers. Do something about it. You have at least two solutions: Pay parents a stipend, or hire hundreds to thousands of additional teachers for states across the country. Diane Rado, Florida Phoenix. Legislators should patch the financial hole created by the coronavirus by withdrawing the tax refunds given to large corporations instead of taking the $500 million it approved for teacher raises. Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel. The Broward County School District’s self-serving investigation into the Parkland shooting overlooked inexcusable failures by school administrators. Tony Montalto, Sun Sentinel.

Student enrichment: Fifty-four students among the 542 nominated from public, charter and private schools in Palm Beach and Martin counties will win awards at tonight’s Pathfinder Scholarship Awards virtual ceremony. Palm Beach Post.

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