K-12 funding concerns: Chief state economist Amy Baker tells House Appropriations Committee members that the three-year financial outlook for the state won’t cover expected budget growth in education and other critical areas. She suggests that the Legislature’s decisions on state spending and setting local property tax rates for K-12 education are the key for balancing spending, and is urging lawmakers to be cautious about spending projected surpluses. Gradebook.
School security law: Members of the Senate Education Committee say they expect to tweak the school safety act passed last spring, both to clarify the law and make it more manageable. Several speakers say they oppose any changes that would allow willing teachers to carry guns into schools, as recommended by the state panel that investigated the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last Feb. 14. Politico Florida. Gradebook. The director of the state’s Office of Safe Schools, Damien Kelly, urges more fencing and single points of entry and better security systems for schools during testimony before the committee. Florida Politics.
School tax hikes: Palm Beach County school leaders are considering giving charter schools a portion of the $150 million a year that would be generated if voters approve a property tax hike in November. Language that specifically excluded charter schools has been removed from the proposal, which the school board will consider today. The decision to cut charters in was made after legal action was threatened if they were excluded. Palm Beach Post. The Hillsborough County School Board agrees to ask voters to increase the sales tax to raise money for capital expenses. The request now goes to the state, which has to perform a financial audit. Superintendent Jeff Eakins also said he was looking into asking voters for a property tax hike, which could be used for teacher salaries and programs. Tampa Bay Times. Lake County commissioners approve a special school safety tax, which will be on the Aug. 28 ballot. Money generated would help pay for resource officers in all schools. Orlando Sentinel.
Science textbooks approved: The Collier County School Board approves the use of new science textbooks that were challenged by evolution and climate change skeptics. The vote was 3-2, with Erika Donalds and Kelly Lichter voting against using the recommended textbooks. Four people had lodged complaints against 220 items in 18 textbooks, alleging that they treat evolution and climate change as fact rather than theory. The new books will cost the district $1.7 million and will be handed out to students in August. Naples Daily News.