Top superintendent: The Orange County School District’s Barbara Jenkins is named the state’s superintendent of the year at the Florida Association of District School Superintendents and Florida School Board Association conference. Jenkins became superintendent of the Orange school district in 2012. The district won the 2014 Broad Prize for Urban Education and the Governor’s Sterling Award in 2014 and 2015 for performance and efficiency. Orlando Sentinel.
School choice tool: A new state website is now available that allows parents to compare schools to find the best matches for their children. Floridastudentsachieve.org is a project from the Department of Education to make performance data about schools easily available online. The launch comes as districts are preparing to deal with a new state law that allows students to enroll in any school with a space for them. redefinED. Orlando Sentinel. WFSU. WTXL.
School recess bill: The chairman of the House education committee says he is open to considering a bill that would require daily recess in elementary schools, even though he opposed a similar bill last year. Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami, did not like a provision in last year’s bill that said recess could not be withheld for punitive reasons. The new bill filed by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, does not include that requirement. Miami Herald.
Immigrants and tuition: State Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, files a bill that would cut off in-state college tuition rates for undocumented students. The measure giving in-state resident rates to those students who attended a Florida high school for at least three years before graduating passed the Legislature in 2014. Miami Herald. Tampa Bay Times. Politico Florida.
Florida Prepaid: The Florida Prepaid College Board removes the minimum contribution level for a Florida 529 Savings Plan. Starting in May, a 529 account can be opened at any amount, and with no application fees. Gradebook.
Spending cuts: The Hillsborough County School District is limiting all discretionary spending in the central administration office and requiring schools to get waivers from area superintendents to make purchases. The freeze is prompted by higher than expected enrollment and school starting earlier next year. The district will also soon begin negotiations with its unions. Tampa Bay Times. The St. Johns County School Board discusses the challenges with state funding for the fast-growing district. St. Augustine Record.
More testing: The Duval County School Board is considering adding more testing for high school and middle school students. The district wants to include the ACT and PSAT national exams to give students more opportunities for scholarships. The district would pay for the tests. Florida Times-Union.
Payment errors: Teachers tee off at Manatee County School District officials and their union at a meeting to discuss how 174 teachers were mistakenly overpaid. A district error led to experienced teachers new to the district making more money than teachers already working in the district with the same type of degrees and experience. Those 174 teachers’ pay will be adjusted accordingly, and for some it will mean a pay cut of almost $3,000. “On so many levels, I’m trying not to feel betrayed,” said Deb Peterson, a teacher at Tara Elementary. “That’s enough for me to consider looking to find another place to work.” Bradenton Herald.
Girls football: Girls who participate in the Jupiter High School Powder Puff tackle football game reject the school district’s suggestion to instead play flag football or kickball, and say they will look for an alternate site. The district prohibited the game, citing concerns about injuries. Palm Beach Post.
Computer coding: A bill allowing Florida students to take computer coding to satisfy foreign language requirements has been weakened in the Florida Senate, which will vote on the measure today. The bill now says public schools may offer coding classes in place of foreign languages, but do not have to. Orlando Sentinel. Miami Herald. Politico Florida.
Teacher bonuses: Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, says the Senate is working on a package of its own priorities for teacher bonuses. Any differences in the bill with the House version will have to be negotiated. Politico Florida.
Alternative testing: A bill that would allow the use of alternatives to the Florida Standards Assessments, such as the ACT or SAT, is still awaiting a Senate committee hearing. And there is no companion bill in the House. Sunshine State News.
LGBT policy killed: The Brevard County School Board declines to adopt a proposed non-discrimination and equal employment policy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the schools. Florida Today.