Elections for superintendents, school board upsets, tax initiatives, plus academic redshirting and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Around the state: Tuesday was election day in races for superintendents, school board seats and a variety of tax initiatives. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts and private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: Lucia Baez-Geller, Christi Fraga and Luisa Santos have been elected to the school board. Baez-Geller defeated Russ Rywell for the District 3 seat with about 61 percent of the vote, while Fraga got more than 55 percent of the vote to beat Mara Zapata in District 5. In District 9, Santos edged Dennis Moss by a 52-48 percent margin. Miami Herald. WLRN. WFOR. Supervisor of Elections. At least one private school has chosen to cancel classes today because it’s concerned about the potential for violence following the presidential election. “We have no specific reason to be concerned for our school community, but we believe in taking the necessary precautions when it comes to safety — especially during these times,” said Miami Country Day School spokeswoman Paula Montoya. Miami Herald.

Broward: Debra Hixon has won the at-large seat on the school board, defeating Jim Holness by a 67.3-32.7 percent margin. Hixon is the widow of Chris Hixon, the athletic director who died in the 2018 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Sun Sentinel. WPLG. WTVJ. Supervisor of Elections.

Hillsborough: Four school board seats were decided Tuesday. In District 1, Nadia Combs defeated incumbent Steve Cona with almost 64 percent of the vote. In District 3, Jessica Vaughn beat Mitch Thrower with 61 percent of the vote. In District 5, Henry Washington turned out incumbent Tamara Shamburger with more than 55 percent support, and in District 7 incumbent Lynn Gray edged Sally Harris, 54-46 percent. Florida Politics. Supervisor of Elections. District officials are proposing to hire consultants to advise them on slowing the spread of the coronavirus by improving air purification and surface decontamination. Payment terms are being worked out, and the work is expected to start next week. Tampa Bay Times.

Orange: Pam Gould and Vicki-Elaine Felder were elected to the school board. Gould won the District 4 seat, 59.3-40.7 percent over Prince Brown, while Felder defeated Michael Scott by a margin of 60.8-39.2 percent. Orlando Sentinel. An Orlando private school company should be barred from the state’s vouchers programs because it employed an administrator who couldn’t pass a background screening, an administrative law judge recommended on Tuesday. The recommendation now goes to the Department of Education for action. News Service of Florida. The school district reported 40 cases of the coronavirus in Monday, the highest single-day total since schools reopened. Twenty-one of the cases were students, 16 were employees and three were vendors or visitors. WKMG. A state investigation has concluded that the school district violated state law by not revising a special education student’s individual education plan when it switched from in-person to remote learning, and must take corrective action. Joy Parnes, who filed the complaint, said her daughter was not getting services such as occupational therapy and that teachers were unable to check the girl’s work. WOFL.

Palm Beach: The district’s coronavirus dashboard reported 319 confirmed coronavirus cases since schools reopened, but school officials said the real numbers are much higher because of the lag time as health officials conduct contact tracing. Boca News Now.

Duval: More than 67 percent of voters approved a half-cent sales tax that will be used to repair and replace aging school buildings. The tax will be in place for 15 years and is expected to raise about $1.9 billion. Florida Times-Union. WOKV. Supervisor of Elections.

Pinellas: About 80 percent of voters approved the renewal of a special tax of 50 cents on every $1,000 of taxable value for schools. The tax was first approved in 2004. The $50 million or so it raises every year is used for teacher raises, technology and to support arts education and reading programs. In the school board races, Laura Hine beat Stephanie Meyer for the District 1 seat with about 56 percent of the vote, while Caprice Edmond won the District 7 seat over Karl Nurse with almost 57 percent of the vote. Tampa Bay Times. Supervisor of Elections.

Lee: School board incumbents Melisa Giovannelli and Chris Patricca have been re-elected. Giovannelli defeated John McCullers in the District 2 race with almost 65 percent of the vote, and Patricca defeated Jacqueline Perez for the District 3 seat with about 55 percent. Fort Myers News-Press. Supervisor of Elections.

Pasco: Kurt Browning decisively won re-election as school superintendent over Cynthia Thompson with nearly 65 percent of the vote. Pasco is the largest district in the United States to still elect its superintendent. Tampa Bay Times. WTSP. School board members joined other education officials around the state in lobbying the University of South Florida to reverse its decision to stop offering undergraduate degrees in education. Nearly a third of the district’s annual hires are typically USF graduates. Tampa Bay Times.

Brevard: Voters overwhelmingly approved a renewal of the half-cent sales surtax to fund repairs to schools. The margin was 68.47 percent to 31.53 percent to renew the tax until 2026. It first passed in 2014, and has generated about $265 million. Nearly half of it has been used to repair and replace school air-conditioning systems. Florida Today. Supervisor of Elections.

Osceola: Julius Melendez defeated Kerly Santos for the District 2 school board seat with almost 60 percent of the vote. Supervisor of Elections.

Volusia: District 2 school board incumbent Ida Wright lost her runoff election against Anita Burnette, who got nearly 60 percent of the vote. Wright had been a board member since 2013. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Supervisor of Elections.

Manatee: District 3 school board incumbent Dave Miner lost to Mary Foreman in the runoff, 59-41 percent. Miner had been on the board since 2012. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Supervisor of Elections. Four new coronavirus cases were reported in district schools, and 30 people were ordered to quarantine. Affected schools are Daughtrey Elementary School, Manatee Technical College, Stewart Elementary and Sugg Middle. Bradenton Herald.

Lake: Mollie Cunningham has been elected to the District 4 seat on the school board with about 57 percent of the vote, defeating Betsy Farner. Both finished ahead of incumbent Sandy Gamble in the August primary. Supervisor of Elections. Orlando Sentinel.

Marion: Allison Campbell has edged Lori Conrad to win the District 1 seat on the school board, by a 53.5-46.5 percent margin. Ocala Star-Banner. Supervisor of Elections.

St. Lucie: Jennifer Richardson upset District 4 school board incumbent Kathryn Hensley, 52.7-47.3 percent. In District 2, Jack Kelly defeated James Monds by a margin of about 53-47 percent. TCPalm. Supervisor of Elections.

Escambia: At least 10 Pensacola Catholic High School students tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday, and school officials have switched to online-only learning for at least the rest of the week. Pensacola News Journal. WEAR.

Clay: Superintendent David Broskie won nearly 97 percent of the vote to retain his job, beating Tyler Groves, who wasn’t on the ballot but was running as a write-in candidate. In the District 2 school board race, Beth Clark won 57 percent of the vote to defeat District 2 incumbent Carol Studdard. Voters also approved a renewal of a half-cent sales tax surcharge, by a 56-44 percent margin. WJXT. WOKV. Supervisor of Elections.

Leon: Superintendent Rocky Hanna was re-elected over Pam Hightower by a 60-40 percent vote, and county residents also approved the creation of a Children’s Services Council with a property tax increase to provide $8 million a year to fund it. Tallahassee Democrat. WFSU. WTXL. Supervisor of Elections.

Okaloosa: About 55 percent of county voters have approved an extra half-cent in the sales tax to raise money for the school district’s capital needs. The tax will be in place for 10 years, and is projected to raise $256 million to help repair school roofs, build classrooms to eliminate the use of portables, and upgrade the school bus fleet. Northwest Florida Daily News. Supervisor of Elections. The number of coronavirus cases in the school district increased by 134 from Oct. 19-25, and now stands at 375 since schools reopened. Students represent 290 of those positive cases. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Alachua: Nearly 79 percent of voters have approved the renewal of a 1-mill tax for school district operating expenses through June 30, 2025. It’s the fourth time the tax has been approved since 2008. The funds generated have been used for school nurses, arts and music programs, library services, school counselors, career programs and to update technology. Gainesville Sun. Supervisor of Elections.

Hernando: About 62 percent of voters approved a local-option property tax increase to improve staff pay, and improve school safety, mental health services, technology and career education programs. Tampa Bay Times. Supervisor of Elections.

Citrus: Incumbent Virginia Bryant won nearly 60 percent of the vote to defeat Danielle Doty for the District 2 school board race. Bryant has won six terms and has been on the board nearly 20 years. Citrus County Chronicle. Supervisor of Elections.

Putnam: Rick Surrency has been re-elected superintendent of schools, with 72 percent of the vote to defeat Pamela Brown. Supervisor of Elections.

Columbia: The school district will be sending all students back to schools for the second semester, and will no longer offer the virtual learning program Columbia Homeroom. Superintendent Alex Carswell Jr. said the emergency order allowing districts to offer options to in-person learning expires in December, and that students learning remotely should consider returning before the start of the second semester if they are struggling. WJXT.

Hendry: Michael Swindle has been elected superintendent of schools by defeating Gwendolyn Patrick-Griffiths, 66-34 percent. Supervisor of Elections.

Jackson: Steve Benton Sr. received almost 57 percent of the vote to defeat incumbent Larry Moore in the school superintendent’s race. Moore was elected in 2016. Supervisor of Elections.

Suwannee: Norman Crawford edged Monica Ford-Davis to win the District 2 seat on the school board. Crawford received 52.13 percent of the vote. Supervisor of Elections.

Levy: Chris Cowart has been elected school superintendent, defeating Jerry Lawrence by a margin of 75.5-24.5 percent. Supervisor of Elections.

Gadsden: Elijah Key overwhelmed Richard Burns in the race for the school superintendent’s job, 77.7-22.3 percent. In the District 1 school board race, Cathy Johnson defeated Audrey Lewis by a margin of 60.4-39.6 percent. Supervisor of Elections.

Hardee: Incumbent Mildred Smith defeated Dick Daggett for the District 2 school board seat with slightly more than 60 percent of the vote. Supervisor of Elections.

DeSoto: Bobby Bennett was narrowly elected school superintendent over Adrian Cline, 53.4-46.6 percent. Supervisor of Elections.

Bradford: Incumbent school Superintendent Stacey Shuford Creighton, first elected in 2016, was upset Tuesday by Will Hartley by about 7 percentage points. Supervisor of Elections.

Madison: Shirley Joseph was elected school superintendent, defeating Ivory Thomas by a margin of 56.9-43.1 percent. Supervisor of Elections.

Union: Mike Ripplinger won the school superintendent’s race over David Harris, 69.4-30.6 percent. Supervisor of Elections.

Dixie: Cheryl Pridgeon was elected to the District 1 school board seat on Tuesday, defeating Samantha Sanders 56.5-43.5 percent. Supervisor of Elections.

Gulf: Marvin Davis slipped past Deborah Crosby to win the District 4 school board seat, winning more than 53 percent of the vote. Supervisor of Elections.

Glades: Alice Barfield was elected school superintendent over Jamie Brown, 56-44 percent. Voters also approved a request to allow the district to use up to 1 mill of property taxes for operating expenses instead of capital projects. Supervisor of Elections.

Hamilton: Lee Wetherington-Zamora outran three other candidates to be elected school superintendent, winning 52.6 percent of the vote. Supervisor of Elections.

Franklin: Steve Lanier won more than 74 percent of the vote to oust incumbent school Superintendent Traci Yoder. Supervisor of Elections.

Liberty: School board member Kyle Peddie has been elected school superintendent, defeating J. Aaron Day with 59.6 percent of the vote. Voters also narrowly rejected a district request for a half-cent sales tax surcharge for the next 10 years. The district said it needed the money to repair schools or build new ones, upgrade technology and provide some money for charter schools. Supervisor of Elections.

Lafayette: Robert Edwards has been re-elected school superintendent, beating William Shows by 66.7-33.3 percent. Supervisor of Elections.

Jefferson: Eydie Tricquet received a plurality of votes, 44.67 percent, to win the superintendent’s race. LaClarence Mays was the runnerup with 39 percent, and incumbent Marianne Arbulu collected 16.34 percent. Supervisor of Elections.

Colleges and universities: Joseph Joyner, the president of Flagler College and former superintendent of the St. Johns County School District, is stepping down after three years. Joyner, 66, said he will retire June 30 because it was “time to watch my grandkids grow up.” St. Augustine Record.

More on the coronavirus: A record 61,000 children in the United States tested positive for the coronavirus last week, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The total number of children testing positive since the pandemic began in March is 853,000. Scripps Media.

Academic redshirting: Holding a child back from starting school at the usual age has increasingly become an option for parents whose children are struggling. But the practice, called academic redshirting, is causing heartburn for school districts because it adds to a decline in enrollment, which means less funding from the state. redefinED.

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