Reading scores released, rules for student-athlete pay, new FSU president, face mask rules axed and more

Camille Knox

Around the state: Florida State University has a new president, Seminole County Public Schools drops mask rules, safety chief resigns in Broward, new curriculum could come to Indian River, a middle school in Manatee has a new name, rules have been set for student-athlete pay, and Florida Standards Assessment data has been released statewide. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: The Broward schools safety chief who was passed over this month as interim superintendent is resigning. Brian Katz was hired in 2019 to oversee safety and security after the school shooting in Parkland. His last day will be July 30, according to a letter Superintendent Robert Runcie sent to the school board. South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Hillsborough: Richard Corcoran, Florida education commissioner, issued a strong response to the Hillsborough County School Board’s decision to deny contract renewals to four charter schools. In a letter to school officials, he urged them to reverse their decision or explain legal reasons for their denials, saying they violated state law, and threatened to withhold state funding from the district. He set a deadline of Tuesday for the district to respond. Tampa Bay Times.

Brevard: A pared-down COVID-19 mitigation plan for the 2021-2022 school year was announced after heated debate over a mandatory mask policy at Brevard Public Schools. Florida Today.

Seminole: Face masks will no longer be required in Seminole County’s public schools after a decision by the school board late Tuesday to end the mandate put in place to curb coronavirus. The board voted unanimously to repeal the face coverings requirement it adopted almost a year ago. The decision is effective immediately, so no masks are required on campuses or school buses.  Orlando Sentinel.

Manatee: The school district began accepting nominations to rename the middle school located at 305 17th St. E. in Palmetto. Ideas were offered by more than 120 people, with nearly 60 suggesting Lincoln Memorial Middle School. With a unanimous 4-0 vote, the school board approved the name. Bradenton Herald.

Bay: The facility department at Bay District Schools is planning for the future using the name “Vision 2030” to prepare for substantial growth in the county. WMBB.

Indian River: The School Board on Tuesday conditionally approved a new K-5 English Language curriculum. In a 4-1 vote, the board adopted Amplify, contingent on approval by the Florida Board of Education by July 6. The district will move forward with curriculum from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt if it isn’t approved by that date. TC Palm.

Florida Standards Assessment:  The Florida Department of Education released the first batch of reading scores from standardized state tests. Overall, 54 % of third grade students across Palm Beach County scored “satisfactory,” which is a level 3 or above, on the spring Florida Standards Assessment exams, according to data from the state Department of Education.  Palm Beach Post. Florida Phoenix. Third grade Language Arts test results dropped, and while Duval County students showed decreases in the percentage of students who passed, the dip was smaller than the state average. The Florida Times-Union. In Manatee, there was a decline in third grade students who scored “satisfactory” or better. Bradenton Herald. In Leon County, third grade reading scores dropped 7 %. Tallahassee Democrat. Reading scores are also down in Polk County, where 53 % of third graders failed to read at or above grade level. Lakeland Ledger.

University news: Richard McCullough has been named the 16th president of Florida State University after  confirmation from the Florida Board of Governors. McCullough was selected after a search that began last October. McCullough, the vice provost for research at Harvard University and former vice president for research at Carnegie Mellon University, will earn a base salary of $700,000 per year. Tampa Bay Times. The Associated Press. Tallahassee Democrat. WFSU. The University of South Florida College of Nursing is working to boost enrollment as a shortage of nurses looms. USF’s College of Nursing hopes to boost the number of graduates by about 24 % over the next few years by increasing admissions to its accelerated and traditional programs, and plans to phase out an online program that allows working nurses with associates degrees to complete their bachelor’s degrees. Tampa Bay Times. Daytona State College is moving forward this year with raises. The college’s Board of Trustees approved raises of between 2 % and 4 % for more than 600 employees. The pay bump is part of a $86.6 million operating budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Daytona Beach News-Journal. The state university system’s Board of Governors has set rules for student-athlete pay and student disciplinary proceedings. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a measure last year that will permit student-athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses. The regulations approved this week will help carry out the law, which goes into effect on July 1. WLRN. Tampa Bay Times.

Supreme Court ruling: In a landmark ruling Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that a school district violated a student’s free speech after she used explicit language regarding the school’s cheerleading squad on Snapchat. In an 8 to 1 decision, the court ruled in favor of the cheerleader. ABC Action News. Fox 4. But the ruling could change the way one Tampa Bay area school district deals with students’ comments off-campus. In Pasco County, the school board last year amended its student code of conduct to include potential punishments for students on teams or clubs who, while wearing school gear, make derogatory comments online. Tampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools:  A few key takeaways as families reflect on a challenging school year: Most kids do better with in-person learning, and families rely on schools for so much more than classroom instruction.  Mary Chance, Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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