Archive | Magnet schools

Florida schools roundup: Graduation options, suit, schools of hope and more

Graduation path options: A Florida legislator files a bill that would offer alternative paths to a high school degree for those students who earn enough credits to graduate but don’t pass the state algebra 1 and language arts tests. State Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Beverly Hills, wants those students to be able to use an industry-recognized certification or a portfolio of school work to earn a standard diploma. Gradebook.

H.B. 7069 lawsuit: When 13 state school districts filed suit against the state’s new education law, H.B. 7069, the largest district in the state was conspicuous by its absence. Miami-Dade County school officials have strongly criticized the law, but decided not to join the suit. Instead, school board members will lobby legislators to amend the law to address their concerns. “We made a very clear determination that ongoing dialogue, ongoing collaboration — until it was determined that it has been exhausted — is prudent,” says board member Steve Gallon. If the options are exhausted, Gallon says, the board will take another look at joining the lawsuit. WLRN.

Schools of hope: Two Bay County schools that were named “schools of hope” by the state Board of Education this week have different plans for the extra money they will receive. Springfield Elementary will spend its $903,424 grant on mental health services and counseling, and classroom support for teachers. Lucille Moore Elementary officials plan to use their $1,022,048 grant to boost parental involvement and engagement in students’ education, among other things. Eleven schools of hope were designated by the state. Each receives an extra $2,000 per student to provide provide such additional services as tutoring, counseling, more teacher coaches and salary supplements for teachers to run student clubs. Panama City News Herald. WJHG.

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Florida schools roundup: Scholarship oversight, tests, charter ban and more

Scholarship oversight: Florida’s school scholarship programs serve about 140,000 students and redirect almost $1 billion a year to private schools, but state regulation of those schools is so weak that many employ teachers who aren’t college graduates, falsify safety records but continue to stay in business, and fail to educate students without suffering the consequences public schools face, according to a newspaper’s investigation. The number of students using tax credit, Gardiner or McKay scholarships has more than tripled in the past decade. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the tax credit and Gardiner scholarship programs. Orlando Sentinel.

Testing the tests: The Florida Department of Education hires a company to evaluate whether the SAT and ACT tests can replace the state’s 10th-grade language arts Florida Standards Assessments and algebra I end-of-course exams. The Legislature required the review as part of the new education law, H.B. 7069. The assessment is expected to be finished in time for Education Commissioner Pam Stewart to make a recommendation on the substitution by Jan. 1. Meanwhile, Stewart says the department won’t decide on whether to delay the spring assessments testing window until after the hurricane season is over. Gradebook.

Charters schools: For the first time, the 50 or so charter schools in Palm Beach County were banned from this year’s “Showcase of Schools,” an event to show parents some of the most popular programs offered in county schools. School Superintendent Robert Avossa says the charter movement is “about spurring competition. So if that’s the case, why would you invite the competition to your event?” The incident is the latest in the escalating fight between district officials and charter schools. Palm Beach Post. The Florida Commission on Ethics rules that charter schools are not public agencies, but instead are more similar to business entities. Politico Florida.

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Florida schools roundup: Waiting for aid, blaming the abused, displaced and more

Still waiting for aid: Thirteen years after Hurricane Ivan hit Florida, the Escambia County School District is still waiting to hear about claims it filed with FEMA. The district’s not alone. A review of claims shows that dozens are still pending from Ivan, Katrina and other storms that have affected the state and its schools since 1999. The majority are from 2004 and 2005, when eight hurricanes hit the state from multiple directions. Associated Press.

Blaming the abused: A review of abuse cases filed against the Palm Beach County School Board in the past few years has a common denominator: In its defense, the school district has always fully or partly blamed the abuse victims. In one case the victim was 6 years old. In another, 7. In three others, the children were 9. The strategy of assigning the person who brought the suit at least part of the blame has been used by Conroy Simberg, a Hollywood law firm that represents the district to try to reduce the damages the district has to pay, not to assign blame to the victims, says Dale Friedman, an attorney with Conroy Simberg. Several board members say the tactic is outrageous and want to ban it. The board will vote this week on a proposed settlement of more than $3.5 million for four abuse victims. Sun-Sentinel.

Displaced students: Florida school districts are asking both the federal and state governments for aid to accommodate the thousands of students displaced by hurricanes and expected to enroll in state K-12 schools. But they are pessimistic. Orange County Public Schools spokesman Scott Howat says the odds of getting additional state money are zero unless the Legislature intervenes. The state says districts must see an enrollment influx of at least 5 percent to qualify, and individual schools must see a 25 percent growth. Nearly 30,000 people have arrived just from Puerto Rico, according to a spokesperson in Gov. Rick Scott’s office. The 74. Education Week. NPR. Associated Press. Orlando Sentinel.

Free meals extended: Lee, Collier and Monroe counties will continue to offer free meals at schools through Nov. 30. The free meals began after Hurricane Irma swept through the state. The three districts have 191 schools and 138,000 students. Fort Myers News-Press.

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Florida schools roundup: Rules waived, extra funding, class times and more

State rules waived: Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Education Commissioner Pam Stewart waive rules to allow students displaced by Hurricane Maria to enter schools in the state. Schools may now accept students who don’t have documentation and hire teachers who don’t have the paperwork proving they are certified. Stewart also waived the residency and student record rules for college students. Orlando SentinelGradebook. News Service of Florida. Sun-SentinelSunshine State News. Capitolist. Naples Herald. WMFE. WKMG. Only a fraction of the schools in Puerto Rico have reopened. Education Week.

Funding for arrivals: Florida school districts have been urged to accept any and all students displaced by the hurricane, but the Department of Education has not guaranteed it would provide extra dollars for those students. The DOE says the only districts that will get supplemental funding are those that see an enrollment increase by 5 percent or more, or schools with an enrollment bump of 25 percent or more. Legislators who urged the state to welcome displaced students are now lobbying state officials to cover all students. Miami Herald. Palm Beach Post.

Class time variations: When it came time to make up days lost to hurricanes, school officials quickly discovered a wide variation in classroom instruction time from district to district and even school to school within districts. That happens because, while every school has a minimum amount of instruction time required by the state, it also has discretion to set daily schedules that can lead to significant differences in classroom time. Some school officials say the discrepancy is no big deal, while others worry that some students are being shortchanged. Tampa Bay Times.

School marketing: Many for-profit schools in Florida and other states are offering rewards to students who persuade other students to enroll or who endorse the school on social media. The promotions often coincide with the time the states count enrollment to determine how much money each school receives. ProPublica.

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Magnet, charter schools again lead Fla. National Blue Ribbon honors

This year, 12 Florida schools won National Blue Ribbon School designations from the federal government.

This year’s winners have one of two things in common. They’re either schools of choice (charter, magnet or magnet-like, private), or they’re part of the Brevard County school district.

We’re a bit late to the news. We missed the announcement when it came last week. But it’s worth noting because it continues a familiar pattern from previous years. Magnet and charter schools are over-represented among Florida’s award-winning schools.

The annual federal awards come in two categories: Schools that excel closing achievement gaps for disadvantaged students, and those with high overall student achievement.

Florida has more schools in both categories than it in the past several years. Once again, there several Miami-Dade charters on the list. There are also multiple charters (Doral and Somerset) operated by the management company Academica. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Guns at schools, staffing, enrollment and more

Guns at schools: The Lee County School Board postpones a discussion about allowing licensed gun owners to keep firearms locked in their cars at schools. All firearms are currently banned from school property, but board member Steven Teuber is proposing the change in policy. Fort Myers News-Press.

School staffing: Lake County School Superintendent Diane Kornegay says the district’s schools have 65 more teachers than they need, and it’s costing the district $4.5 million. She will reassess the situation after Labor Day, when school enrollment starts to stabilize. Some teachers will be shifted to meet class-size requirements, but district spokeswoman Sherri Owens says layoffs have not been discussed. Daily Commercial.

School enrollment: Enrollment in Palm Beach County charter schools has dropped for the first time in a decade. Charter schools have an enrollment of 19,803, down 939 from last year. Charters still make up more than 10 percent of the district’s 193,973 students. Palm Beach Post.

Call for choice: Leon County School Board member Rosanne Wood is calling for an expansion of school choice in the district. She wants school officials to set up a task force on magnet schools and choice. Wood writes on her website: “Americans love choice; walk through the cereal or toothpaste isle at any store if you’re not convinced. All parents want the very best for their children. Many are willing to make sacrifices of money and convenience to enroll their child in what they perceive as the best available school.” redefinED.

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Florida schools roundup: More join H.B. 7069 suit, bills, guns at school and more

H.B. 7069 lawsuit: The Orange County and Polk County school boards unanimously agree to join other districts in suing the state over the new education law, H.B. 7069. Members of both boards believe provisions governing charter schools are unconstitutional. At least 10 school districts have agreed to join the suit and are contributing money for legal fees. Orlando Sentinel. Lakeland Ledger. Daytona Beach News-Journal. WJHG. Rapidly growing central Florida school districts are unhappy that they now have to share money collected locally for capital projects. The growth of charter schools could reduce the need for districts to build new schools, but that’s a tradeoff that still doesn’t seem fair to the districts. “They (charter schools) are coming and relieving us with overcrowding and growth,” says Lake County School Board chairman Marc Dodd. “We wouldn’t need to solve the problem if we had the funding to build those schools. They are coming to solve a problem the state created.” redefinED.

Education bills: Two bills are introduced in the Legislature that would affect school board members. Sen. Gregory Steube, R-Sarasota, files a bill that would limit school board members to a pair of four-year terms. The other, filed by Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, would allow two school board members to meet privately, without public notice, “so long as no official acts are taken and any public business is not discussed.” Gradebook. Steube also files a bill that would change eligibility for student transportation to schools. Right now, no student who lives within 2 miles of his or her school is eligible for busing unless he or she can prove the walking route is hazardous. Steube’s bill would shrink that distance to 1.5 miles. Gradebook.

Guns at schools: The Lee County School Board will consider a proposal to allow anyone to bring guns to school as long as the owner is legally allowed to have the weapon and keeps it in a locked case in a vehicle while on campus. The board may vote as soon as Sept. 5. “It’s just letting honest people do honest things in a prudent manner,” says board member Steven Teuber. “In my mind, I don’t believe it puts our district any farther in harm’s way in any way.” Alecs Dean, a firearms consultant, says the proposal would violate federal law, which bans firearms within 1,000 of a school. Fort Myers News-Press. WINK.

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Florida schools roundup: Infrastructure spending, funding, reading gap and more

School infrastructure: The Florida Department of Education releases the total funds districts will receive from the state in the Public Education Capital Outlay. The state is spreading $50 million among the districts for school construction and maintenance. Districts must apply to the state for release of their shares, and must have the projects under contract by January 2020 or risk losing the money. Gradebook. The Hillsborough County School District spends less on building maintenance and operations than any school district in Florida, according to state records. The district has had ongoing problems with air-conditioning, and is facing significant infrastructure needs. Tampa Bay Times.

Funding formula: The Volusia County School Board is expected tonight to approve a resolution urging legislators to change the district cost differential portion of the state’s K-12 education funding formula. The DCD provides extra money to about a dozen districts that have a higher cost of living. Volusia and more than 50 other districts contend they’ve lost millions since the formula was initiated in 2004. “I’m hoping that other districts … would join us in our fight to get what the Legislature appropriated,” says board member Carl Persis. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Gender reading gap: A group of Pinellas County school principals create a “gender equity self-reflection” rubric for teachers to try to close the elementary school reading gap between girls and boys. Girls outperformed boys by 4 to 9 percentage points in the 2017 state assessment tests for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. “It was noticeable enough that we wanted to address it,” says Sutherland Elementary School principal Kristy Cantu. Tampa Bay Times.

Solar eclipse: Students around the state get an astronomy lesson during Monday’s solar eclipse. Miami Herald. Sun-Sentinel. Palm Beach PostFort Myers News-Press. Naples Daily NewsTampa Bay TimesTampa Bay TimesGradebook. WFTS. Lakeland Ledger. Bradenton Herald. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Tallahassee Democrat. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Panama City News Herald. WJAX. WPTV.

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