Unions’ recommendations to reopen K-12 schools and universities, home SAT testing canceled and more

Reopening K-12 schools: Major changes are needed in the K-12 school system before students return to classes in the fall, the Florida Education Association said Tuesday in a report. Among the recommendations listed by the state’s largest teachers union are physical distancing in classes and on buses, personal protection equipment and sanitizer being made available for students and staff, ongoing remote learning for some classes and students, staggered school schedules, fewer students in classrooms, more health testing and screening, more electronic devices for students, and more remedial instruction for struggling students. The union also is proposing that state testing, teacher evaluations and school letter grades be suspended. The FEA had asked the state for a role in creating recommendations for the reopening, but when the state didn’t respond it decided to set up its own committees. The unsolicited advice will be sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and the Florida Department of Education for consideration as they prepare the state’s back-to-school plan. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. WLRN. Gradebook. Florida Politics. USA Today. Bay News 9. WJXT. WPEC. Florida Phoenix. WFSU. WKMG. Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna withdrew from the FEA task force Monday, saying he felt uncomfortable supporting the group’s recommendations without further study. He was the only superintendent in the group. Tallahassee Democrat. WCTV. Staggered schedules, half-full school buses and continued online learning from home could be part of the Sarasota County School District’s plan for the next school year. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. St. Johns County Superintendent Tim Forson said the next school year will very likely start with a blend of in-person and online learning. WJXT. Martin County School District officials said staggered scheduling, social distancing and a continuation of at least some online learning for older students are among the measures being considered for reopening schools. TCPalm. Santa Rosa and Okaloosa school districts are asking parents for input on how to reopen schools safely. WEAR.

Reopening universities: The United Faculty of Florida (UFF) is reportedly considering recommending to Gov. DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran that on-campus housing at some of the state’s universities be limited to freshmen, seniors and graduate students when schools reopen in the fall. Sophomores and juniors could also be pushed into online learning only at some schools under the plan that’s been developed for the state’s consideration. Karen Morian, the union’s president, said the recommendations aren’t final and would only apply to some schools “in order to cut down how many students need to be on campus.” UFF’s recommendations will be announced today. Florida Phoenix.

Home SAT test withdrawn: The College Board has canceled its plans to offer students in-home SAT tests this fall, and is asking colleges and universities to not penalize students who don’t submit scores with their applications. Board officials said in-home tests “would require three hours of uninterrupted, video-quality Internet for each student, which can’t be guaranteed for all.” The board will still offer in-person tests, but with limited seating capacity that is quickly filling up. Politico Florida. Washington Post. EdSurge. Los Angeles Times. SAT and ACT test cancellations have northeast Florida students worried about how they’ll qualify for Bright Futures scholarships. Florida Times-Union.

District budgets: Sales tax collections were down 26 percent in March and 24 percent in April in St. Johns County, said the school district’s chief financial officer Michael Degutis. “If that continues to have that kind of decline in May, June and July, that surely is going to have an impact on how schools are funded for next year,” Degutis told the school board Tuesday. He said he’s advised school administrators about the possibility of having to make cutbacks similar to the ones made during the 2008 recession. WJXT. Lee County school officials are building budgets for the next school year under the assumption that the district will lose between $20.5 million and $50.5 million in funding from the state. Fort Myers News-Press.

Online learning survey: A survey of about 60 U.S. school districts, including Miami-Dade’s and Broward’s, that serve 2.8 million students suggests that online learning has taken its toll on the quality of education. Students are getting less than half the instruction, fewer than half the districts took attendance, and a third of the districts have stopped providing services to students with special needs. Reuters.

More on the coronavirus: Athletes and band members will start returning to Okaloosa County schools next Monday, Superintendent Marcus Chambers has announced. The plan calls for groups to be limited to 10 or fewer people, with health screenings and temperature checks and enhanced cleaning protocols. Northwest Florida Daily News. WEAR. Some private schools in southwest Florida have resumed workouts for student-athletes. Naples Daily News. The Broward County School District announced it will continue its food distribution program through the summer. WFOR.

Plan to buy devices approved: A proposal to spend $10.5 million plan to buy electronic devices for every student in the Leon County School District has been approved by the school board. The district will spend $2.6 million a year for the next four years to buy 32,000 Chromebook laptops that students can use for their school work, in classrooms or at home or through online classes. WTXL. WCTV.

Bay schools get reimbursed: The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved an $11 million payment to the Bay County School District for expenses for damages caused by Hurricane Michael in 2018. The money reimburses the district for repairs made to Jinks Middle School, Springfield Elementary and Tyndall Elementary, and for damaged contents such as desks, chairs and cabinets at Merritt Brown Middle. FEMA had previously approved $50.7 million for the district. WMBB.

School impact fees: Since an educational impact fee on new housing went into effect May 4, Santa Rosa County has not collected a penny for the school district. Developers rushed to get their building permits in the week before, with 357 new home submissions, according to county officials. Since then, no applications have gotten far enough along to require a fee. The impact fees for builders are $5,000 for single-family houses, $4,000 for mobile homes and $2,750 for multi-family units, which builders said will be passed on to buyers. Pensacola News Journal.

Superintendent search: A citizens advisory committee has tentatively narrowed the field of applicants for the Sarasota County School District superintendent’s job from 31 to 11. The top five candidates are all high-ranking leaders from Florida school districts. The committee will continue its research and meet again June 9 to further refine the list that it will recommend to the school board. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Superintendent demotes opponent: Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning has demoted and transferred one of his challengers in the upcoming election. David LaRoche has been the principal at Hudson High School for 12 years, but is becoming the assistant principal at Mitchell High School. “While I try to avoid commenting on the performance of any specific employees, I will say that the current principal is not supportive of the direction that the school board and I are going with our schools,” said Browning. Hudson High is part of a planned overhaul for schools in the northwest part of the county that includes new magnet programs and schools and additional services. Tampa Bay Times.

School board elections: One person has announced a challenge to incumbent Dave Miner for his District 3 seat on the Manatee County School Board, while another has withdrawn from the race. Longtime educator Christine Dawson announced her candidacy this week, while Shaun Lehoe said he was withdrawing. Other candidates are Scott Boyes and Mary Foreman. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Teacher loses on Jeopardy!: Amanda Baltimore, a 7th-grade science teacher at at DeLaura Middle School in Brevard County, lost in the semifinals Tuesday in the Jeopardy! tournament for teachers. She won her first match last week to advance to the semifinals. Jeopardy!

Employees and the law: An employee at Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg has been arrested and accused of sexually assaulting a child at a private boarding school in Pennsylvania where he worked. Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials said Marc Spera, 57, assaulted the child at least 10 times between 2008 and 2010. WFLA.

Arrest in school arson: A juvenile has been arrested and accused of setting fire to a shed at Blake High School in Tampa last month, causing $11,000 in damages. The shed held equipment for the school’s football team. The boy is accused of second-degree arson and burglary. Tampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools: A future-ready educational infrastructure will include a blended core program, a distanced onsite strategy, an updated remote program and an online program. Tom Vander Ark, redefinED.

Student enrichment: Eastside High School is one of 32 U.S. schools, and the only one from Florida, still competing in the National Science Bowl Championship. The finals, which are being held virtually, are Saturday. WGFL.

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