Principal pens personalized notes to grads, pandemic’s toll, Supreme Court ruling and more

Camille Knox

In the Legislature: Florida’s 11th graders could take a national college entrance exam for free – either the SAT or ACT – starting in the 2021-2022 school year, if Gov. Ron DeSantis approves the legislation. The Florida Legislature approved the effort this spring, and lawmakers sent the bill to DeSantis recently for consideration. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Manny Diaz, requires that public school districts select either the SAT or ACT to administer the tests to their 11th graders. Florida Phoenix.

Around the state: Principal gives personalized notes to graduates, one county is pushing for student vaccinations, some parents are considering retention requests for students, one school district is searching for a new superintendent, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of former NCAA student-athletes, and the pandemic has taken a toll on the state’s children. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: A former Broward schools superintendent who stepped down after a grand jury report years ago wants to again lead the district. Jim Notter submitted his resume, cover letter and references on Friday for the job of interim superintendent. Notter wants to replace Robert Runcie, who agreed to resign in August after an indictment on a felony perjury charge. South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Palm Beach: A coalition of community, health and technology groups have created a project in an effort to bring digital access to everyone in the area. During the pandemic, many residents lacked fundamental digital access. So county organizations held discussions on the issue, and the county commission developed workgroups to advise county government with the focus of ensuring that all students could participate in remote learning. Now, 40 local foundations are working together to improve digital access in the area. Since the project began, over 73,000 Chromebooks have been distributed to students. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Meanwhile, as area school districts are on summer break, some parents are considering if their kids are prepared for the next grade level. Parents or guardians can request that their K-5 public school student “be retained for the 2021-2022 school year” in their current grade level, “provided that such request is made for academic reasons,” according to a new Florida law. The law requires parents to submit, in writing, a retention request to the school principal “that specifies the academic reason for the retention.” WPTV.

Lee: The Lee County School Board has begun the process of looking for a new school superintendent. Five search firms are being interviewed. Those include: Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, GR Recruiting, Ray & Associates, McPherson & Jacobson and the Florida School Boards Association.    WINK News.

Volusia: If a proposed policy change goes through, the days of requiring students to wear solid-colored polo shirts in Volusia County schools could end. The county school board will vote today on whether to advertise policy changes that would switch the district back to a dress code instead of a uniform requirement. A second vote will be required to adopt the policy. The current policy restricts clothing options to solid-colored collared shirts, solid-colored bottoms and close-toed shoes.   Daytona Beach News-Journal. Volusia and Flagler school districts will begin offering enrichment programs for its students to assist with learning loss from the coronavirus pandemic. Volusia officials are predicting more than 9,000 students will be participating in summer courses this year. The district hopes to target students in its highest need schools with face-to-face learning opportunities. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Pasco: The Florida Department of Health in Pasco and Pasco County schools have launched a vaccination push this week for students aged 12 and older. Vaccinated students do not have to quarantine or get tested for COVID-19 if they are exposed to someone who has it, unless they show symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Pasco County has seen only around 2,000 children aged 12 and older get vaccinated by early June, according to the state Department of Health. There are more than 70,000 students enrolled in the Pasco County School District. Bay News 9.

St. Lucie: A local teen has received a ballet scholarship to an academy in Monaco. Ella Justi will spend the next school year at the Princess Grace Academy on the French Riviera. TCPalm.

Citrus: Members of Citrus High School’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) attended the 93rd annual Florida FFA State Convention and Expo in Orlando. Citrus County Chronicle.  Summer Arts at Lecanto School of the Arts (SALSA) camp has been held for Citrus County’s children. SALSA is sponsored by Lecanto High School and hosted by Lecanto Middle School. Citrus County Chronicle.

Flagler: Principal Jeff Reaves prepared a final farewell to every Matanzas High School graduate. From March until graduation on June 2, Reaves looked through emails, transcripts and used his own memory to write a note for each of the 459 graduating seniors. The notes were left on the graduate’s seats so they could read them before receiving their diplomas on stage. Daytona Beach News-Journal.  News4Jax. USA Today.

Critical race theory: A new rule imposed by the state Board of Education limits what materials and concepts can be used in discussing race in America, specifically critical race theory, leading some educators to wonder what is and is not forbidden to be taught in schools. Some teachers are worried about crossing a line during instruction about slavery and segregation. Florida Phoenix.

Pandemic’s toll: A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation has shed light on the toll that the coronavirus pandemic took on Florida’s children. The annual Kids Count report looks at factors such as income levels, education, and access to health care. The report found that 18 % of the state’s children live in poverty, and that the coronavirus pandemic could push that figure to 25 %.  WUSF. America’s public school system lost about 1.3 million students this year, according to an Education Week analysis of state data. Education Week.

College and university news: Florida A&M University is sharing $19 million in grants for scholarships from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Robert Taylor, dean of the FAMU College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, said the grant will help recruit top students to the program. Tallahassee DemocratFlorida Southern College will extend its roots into the Lake Morton neighborhood by fall. Lakeland commissioners approved a conditional use permit on Monday allowing FSC to use the former St. Joseph’s Academy grounds to expand its nursing program. The hope is for the building to be ready by fall for classes. Lakeland Ledger. The Supreme Court on Monday said the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) can’t strictly limit certain benefits for student-athletes as a means of protecting their amateur status. NPR. CBS News. Fox4.

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