Archive | Florida schools roundup

Florida schools roundup: New ESSA plan, report cards going digital and more

Revised ESSA plan: The Florida Department of Education submits its revised plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The state is asking the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver to limit state testing to either math or science every year for middle school students, instead of both, and wants to offer state tests in a language other than English only when 5 percent or more of middle school students speaks that language. In Florida, the plan says, that would be only Spanish. The state also wants to change the way it deals with migrant and homeless children, how it handles out-of-field teachers, and details how it will use demographic subgroups to determine what schools need additional attention. Gradebook. Politico Florida.

Digital report cards: Report cards for Lake County School District students will no longer be mailed to homes, school officials say. Instead, parents and students will have to look up grades online through the already-in-place Skyward Family Access portal. The switch is expected to save the district $35,000 a year. Parents can still get a paper copy by going to their child’s school and asking for one to be printed. Orlando Sentinel. Daily Commercial.

School security: A 16-member commission reviewing the Parkland school shooting meets for the first time today in Coconut Creek. The panel will look into law enforcement’s response and confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz’s background, and make recommendations to prevent future attacks. News Service of Florida. Miami Herald. Manatee County is unlikely to contribute to pay for armed security at the county’s schools, county officials are telling the school board. The county has split the costs in the past. School board member Charlie Kennedy says he hopes the county’s decision is negotiable. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Clay County School Board members want to put a resource officer in every school, which will cost $5 million, and are asking the county for more financial help. Clay Sheriff Darryl Daniels is frustrated by the delays in making a decision, and warns that time is running out to hire and train officers for schools. WJAX. Polk County School Board members are expected to vote today on a plan to hire at least 85 armed safety officers for county schools. WFLA. The first of three town hall meetings about using the school marshal program in Brevard County schools is tonight. The school board says putting a resource officer in every school is too expensive, and wants to consider arming school personnel even though Superintendent Desmond Blackburn and Sheriff Wayne Ivey are recommending against it. Florida Today. At least 31 students have been killed and 53 wounded in school shootings this year in the United States. The 74.

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Florida schools roundup: Shooting, walkouts, turnarounds and more

School shooting. A 19-year-old injured one victim during a shooting at an Ocala high school. He faces terrorism charges. Washington Post. Associated Press. Ocala Star-BannerStudents at Forest High plan a rally in response. Ocala Star-Banner.

Student walkouts. Students across Florida, and across the nation, marked the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre with marches against gun violence. Orlando Sentinel. Sun-Sentinel. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Today. Naples Daily News. WFSU. Among their demands: A ban on assault weapons. Bradenton Herald. After Manatee County bars protests, students find other ways to voice their views. Bradenton Herald. Meanwhile, a conservative student hosted a Second-Amendment forum. Sun-Sentinel.

School safety. Hundreds of Alachua County parents sign up for active-shooter training. Gainesville Sun. Clay and St. Johns County schools struggle with resource officer funding. St. Augustine RecordFlorida Times-Union. Student fighting appears to be on the rise in Duval County. Florida Times-Union. A Fort Myers High School bomb threat is deemed not credible. Fort Myers News-Press. Protesters vow consequences at the polls for Brevard County School Board members who support arming employees through the state’s new school marshall program. Florida Today. School board members are undeterred. Florida Today. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: ‘Hope’ upheld, students protest and more

Schools of Hope. A Tallahassee judge has released a written decision explaining why he upheld Florida’s Schools of Hope law on all counts. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida.

School safety. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High students plan to join their peers nationwide in protests marking the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School mass shooting. Miami Herald. Tampa Bay Times. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Some districts won’t penalize students who participate in walkouts. WFSU. A statewide panel investigating the MSD shooting will convene for its first meeting in Parkland next week. Politico Florida. A Panhandle superintendent explains his district’s deliberations over post-Parkland security measures. Teachers in his district support the idea of arming school staff. Gradebook. Pay raises could be on the chopping block as districts look for ways to fund increased security. Palm Beach Post. Palm Beach County schools speed up long-planned facilities-hardening projects to assuage fearful parents. Sun-Sentinel. Pinellas schools could adopt a “Know the Signs” violence-prevention curriculum developed by Sandy Hook families. Tampa Bay Times. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune fields reader questions on school security.

Survivors honored. Time Magazine counts five Parkland students among its 100 Most Influential People in 2018. In an accompanying essay, Barack Obama calls the young people “heroes.” Miami Herald.

Charter schools. Legacy Charter School in Brevard County faced imminent closure for, among other things, not having certified teachers, not have appropriate curriculum materials and being in a state of financial emergency. Florida Today.

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Florida schools roundup: Tax hikes, security for schools, budgets and more

Sales tax hikes: The Martin County School Board is asking residents to approve two tax hikes. In August, voters will be asked to approve a half-mill property tax increase to boost teacher pay and development and pay for school security and extra mental-health services. The tax would raise about $11.2 million a year for four years. In November, voters will consider a seven-year, half-cent sales tax increase that would generate about $112 million for school construction and upgrades. TCPalm. Okaloosa County School Board member Dewey Destin wants to district to reconsider a ballot initiative to increase the sales tax by a half-cent to raise money for schools. If approved, the tax hike would raise about $17 million a year for the district, which could spend it only for capital projects such as construction and upgrades. Northwest Florida Daily News.

School security forces: Brevard County School Board members brush off a protest against arming school employees, and the advice of the superintendent and county sheriff, and say they will proceed with gathering information on the state’s marshal program. Board members say they’d prefer to have school resource officers, but the district doesn’t have the money and they aren’t interested in tapping reserves or raising taxes. Three town hall meetings are scheduled to discuss the best way to protect schools, and the board will decide next month whether to approve the marshals program. Florida Today. Switching to an internal police department will save the Sarasota County School District up to $1.5 million in the 2018-2019 school year, officials say. There is some question whether the district can put together a department of two administrators, a detective, two sergeants and 24 deputies before the next school year begins Aug. 13. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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Florida schools roundup: School security plans, budget blues and more

School security: The Sarasota County School Board approves a plan to create an internal school security department over the next two years. The plan, which would cost the district $3.1 million, calls for hiring 30 officers and placing them in elementary schools for the 2018-2019 school year, and adding 26 more the following year and putting them in middle and high schools. Superintendent Todd Bowden proposes negotiating with local law enforcement agencies to provide coverage in middle and high schools for 2018-2019, which could cost as much as another $2.5 million. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Both the Duval and Pasco school districts are considering plans to place safety “assistants” in elementary schools as a less-costly alternative to using sworn school resource officers. These assistants would receive less training and be paid less than SROs, and work only when schools are in session. Florida Times-UnionWJCT. WJXT. Gradebook. The Volusia County School Board is asking the county council for $2 million to help put a resource officer in every school. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Putnam County School Board members delay a decision on arming school employees until May 1 to wait for a recommendation from a school advisory committee. WJXT. Students are among about 50 people protesting against Brevard County School Board members who want to consider arming school employees. Florida Today. Broward County school officials are hosting the first of several school safety forums tonight. WLRN.

Budget problems: The Duval County School Board is facing a $62 million deficit in its $1.7 billion budget for next year, districts officials say. Last year the district dipped into its reserves to cover a $23 million deficit. Interim Superintendent Patricia Willis says overspending, higher costs for security, transportation, raises and money to charter schools are contributing to the deficit, and she’s asking department heads to look for 5 percent savings in their budgets. Florida Times-Union. Broward County school officials say they’re facing a budget deficit of nearly $15 million for the next school year, and are considering asking voters for an additional half-mill in property taxes so teachers can get raises. If approved by the school board, the tax measure would go on the November ballot. Officials estimate it would raise $93 million a year over its four-year life. Sun-Sentinel. Lake County School Superintendent Diane Kornegay is proposing to trim $2.1 million from the district’s budget by eliminating non-teaching positions in administration and support services. Daily Commercial.

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Florida schools roundup: Education amendment, funding request and more

Education amendment: A proposed constitutional amendment that bundles three education issues will appear on the November ballot. The Constitution Revision Commission, in a 27-10 vote, approves Proposal 6003, which calls for eight-year term limits on school board members, gives the authority to approve charter schools to an entity other than local school boards, and requires civics to be taught in public schools. It was one of eight amendments approved on Monday. Another education proposal, which would have allowed “high-performing” public school districts to apply for an exemption from following some state laws and regulations, as charter schools can now, was rejected by the CRC. There will be 13 amendment proposals on the ballot. Each must be approved by 60 percent of voters to take effect. Miami Herald. News Service of FloridaGradebook. redefinED. Orlando SentinelAssociated Press. Politico Florida.

Education funding: The state’s school superintendents say that if legislators are going to be called for a special session on gambling, they should also reconsider funding for education. The Florida Association of District School Superintendents wants the Legislature to increase the base allocation by $152 per student, which would cost the state about $300 million. It also wants to be able to use money from the program that calls for arming school employees to instead hire school resource officers. A previous request by the group for a special session to take another look at education funding was denied. Gradebook. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: School removing teachers, amendments and more

All teachers to be removed: Every teacher at a struggling Hernando County elementary school will be removed at the end of the school year, school officials said at a meeting Friday. Administrators decided to give Moton Elementary School a “fresh start” after it has received D grades from the state the past two years. District spokesperson Karen Jordan says without the move, the state would have taken over the school. Veteran teachers will be transferred, while newer teachers will have to apply for other open jobs in the district. Tampa Bay Times.

Education amendments: The Constitution Revision Commission will consider 12 ballot proposals this week. Two of them address K-12 education. Proposal 6003 would place an eight-year term limit on school board members, allow an alternative process for approving public and charter schools, and require civics education in public schools. Proposal 6008 would allow “high-performing” school districts exemptions from following some laws that apply to districts. The commission must send its ballot proposals to the secretary of state by May 10. News Service of Florida. redefinED. The proposal to bundle three education proposals into a single amendment for voters to consider in November is drawing criticism from education leaders around the state. Gradebook.

Charter schools’ troubles: Even as the Eagle Arts Academy charter school missed making a payroll for its teachers, it continued to pay another company owned by school founder Gregory Blount for the use of the school name, logo, website and data-processing system, according to school records. The company has been paid at least $42,000 since last June by the Wellington school. Palm Beach Post. Eagle Arts Academy teachers got a full paycheck Friday, though they remain concerned about the checks they’re due at the end of the month. District officials say they’ll close the school within the next 90 days unless it can balance its budget and pay more than $700,000 in back rent. Palm Beach Post. The Brevard County School Board will decide Tuesday whether to close the Legacy Academy Charter School in Port St. John. District officials say the 200-student K-6 school is in a financial emergency, employs noncertified teachers and operates without basic instructional materials. Florida Today. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: ‘Safety specialists,’ budgets, testing and more

Security in schools: The Polk County School District and Sheriff Grady Judd are working on a plan to have an armed “safety specialist” in all county elementary schools this fall. The district is finalizing a job description, but the specialists will fall between a sworn school resource officer and an armed school employee. As many as 90 will be hired, and the school district will pay for them. Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd says the pay will be “significantly less” than what resource officers and teachers make. Judd says the specialists’ job is to be a “visual deterrent to an active shooter, and be trained to suppress the active shooter threat” if necessary. Lakeland Ledger. WKMG. WFLA. Manatee and Sarasota school districts are struggling to find funding to comply with the state law to have an officer in every school by fall. Law enforcement authorities in both counties contend that since the school districts are getting some money from the state, they should be responsible for the full costs of school security. WWSB.

Budget ‘crisis’: Volusia County School Board members say the district is in “crisis mode” after the preliminary budget shows a deficit of $4.2 million. School officials blame a small increase in funding from the state, an underfunded state mandate on school security and proposed 1 percent teacher raises for the deficit. “I’m a little alarmed by it and very cautious about what we must do,” says board chairwoman Linda Cuthbert, who noted that decisions need to be made soon. “It’s certainly going to be a difficult budget cycle,” says Deb Muller, chief financial officer for the district. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Testing cautions: National Assessment of Educational Progress testing results have positive news about Florida, and particularly several three large school districts. But they also show there’s work to be done, especially in 8th-grade math and in closing the achievement gap between racial and ethnic groups. redefinED. Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says her top goal is to close the academic achievement gap between students of different racial and economic backgrounds. She says part of the problem is chronic teacher absenteeism. “I can tell you … with our most vulnerable students that we have our teachers that are less motivated and less capable. We’ve got to make that shift and we’ve got to help them become better or help them find another profession,” Stewart said in a speaking appearance in Sarasota. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Continue Reading →