Education and politics: Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis unveils his education goals for the state that include more school choice, more support for career and technical training, incentives for teacher retention, an increase in the cap for tax credit scholarships, an end to Common Core, an emphasis on civics education and a requirement that 80 percent of education funding go into the classroom. Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum touts his plan to raise corporate income taxes to increase education spending by $1 billion, including starting salaries of $50,000 for teachers and $100 million for construction, and vows to end “the voucherizing of the education system.” News Service of Florida. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Florida Politics. GateHouse. Florida Phoenix. Education Week. Associated Press. WFSU. Tallahassee Democrat. Politico Florida. WUSF.
Achievement gap: The Pinellas County School District improves in five of six categories in its plan to close the achievement gap between black and white students by 2027, according to a report from the minority achievement office. Still, no progress was made between the groups in state English and math exams results, with the gap steady at 33 percent. “It’s good; it’s not great,” minority achievement officer Lewis Brinson tells the school board. “But good is acceptable and encouraging that we will become great … if we continue to keep the focus.” Gradebook. Alachua County School Board members approve an equity plan to close the achievement gap between white and black students, over the objections of some community members who say it needs more accountability and inclusion. The plan has been developed over the past year by Valerie Freeman, director of equity for the school system, who says commitment to the plan is necessary even as changes can be made later. Gainesville Sun.
Financial issues: The Duval County School District again spent more than it took in last year, according to an annual report on the state of its finances. That spending – for unexpected expenses, climbing costs, underutilized schools and more – cut into the district’s net financial position by 15.7 percent last year, and the general fund balance is now 21 percent less than it was a year ago. Florida Times-Union. The Leon County School Board is expected to vote tonight on a proposed $545.8 million budget that includes raises for teachers and a boost in the minimum wage paid from $9.50 an hour to $11. Tallahassee Democrat.
School overcrowding: Even with about 22,000 open seats in Palm Beach County schools, there’s a space crunch at select schools. Schools in more desirable neighborhoods are jammed, and schools in low-income areas have seats to spare. District officials are trying to convince the state to let them build new schools to relieve the overcrowding at the crowded schools, saying moving students from them to half-empty ones would require so much busing that it would be unhealthy for students, unwelcome to their parents and unaffordable for the school system. Palm Beach Post. Here’s what one Palm Beach County school is doing to weed out students who falsify addresses to attend. Sun-Sentinel.
Trump at Tampa school: President Trump talks about workforce development during a roundtable discussion at Tampa Bay Technical High School on Tuesday. Trump said the just-signed Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act would give states the freedom to issue up to $1 billion in grants to help students in high school career and technical programs and at community colleges and technical schools. “Now more than 11 million students and workers will have greater access to better training and more jobs,” Trump said. “When we invest in our workers, we are investing in our people.” WFTS. WFLA. WTSP. Tampa Bay Times. Education Week. PBS. YouTube. Washington Post.
Budget decisions: Polk County School Board members approve a budget of $890 million, almost $63 million higher than last year’s. School officials attribute the hike to the additional 3,150 students it expects this year. Lakeland Ledger. The Sarasota County School Board approves an $828 million budget, about $40 million more than last year’s, but is cutting its reserves back to 7.68 percent, the lowest percentage since 2002. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The Broward County School Board approves a budget that includes $15 million in cuts in staffing and fuel costs. Sun-Sentinel. Northeast High School in Oakland Park will be renovated at a cost of $41.2 million, the Broward school board decides. When the project was approved in 2014, it was expected to cost $14.2 million. Sun-Sentinel. Pasco County School Board members are unhappy that the proposed budget does not include money for raises, and are challenging themselves and school officials to come up with ideas to find money for them. Gradebook.
Lead found in schools: Twenty-one of 50 Hillsborough County schools tested in the past year have lead in their water, according to district officials. Plumbing components that could have caused the contamination have been replaced. “We will continue testing the drinking water sources in our schools for lead until we have checked all 270 facilities in our district,” parents and staff have been told in an email from the district. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA.
Trump at Tampa school: President Trump holds a roundtable talk about career and technical education at Tampa Bay Tech later this afternoon, and some current and former students will demonstrate before the visit. “This is not an anti-Trump protest, but an event where people can gather to speak up about what they believe deserves change,” says Parisa Akbarpour, an event organizer and a graduate of Sickles High School. After the roundtable, Trump will hold a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Tampa Bay Times. WFTS.
Back-to-school tax holiday: Florida’s back-to-school tax holiday is this weekend, starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday and ending at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Sales taxes will be waived on clothes, shoes and some accessories selling for $60 or less, and most school supplies up to $15. Not included this year are computers and other electronics. The Florida Department of Revenue has a full list what’s tax-free. News Service of Florida. Bradenton Herald. WESH. TCPalm. WJXT. WKMG. Pensacola News Journal. WPLG.
Charter shutdown urged: Palm Beach County Superintendent Donald Fennoy is recommending the school board approve the immediate closing of the Eagle Arts Academy charter school. Fennoy says the school’s “fiscal mismanagement and deteriorating financial condition have reached such a critical point that there now exists an immediate and serious danger to the health, safety and welfare of students.” Gregory Blount, executive director of the school, sent a message to parents Monday saying it would be “difficult” to open the school and suggested they put their children in other area charter schools. Palm Beach Post.
Reading test results: More on how 3rd-graders performed on the Florida Standards Assessments language arts testing in districts around the state. Test results are a major factor in determining if students are promoted to the 4th grade. Miami Herald. Sun-Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. Gradebook. WUSF. Florida Today. Space Coast Daily. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Daily Commercial. Lakeland Ledger. Chipley Bugle. WMBB. State testing went smoothly for Sarasota County students, district officials say. More than 76,000 tests were taken this year. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Bargaining suit challenge: Officials of teachers unions around Florida say they will file suit against a new law that requires more than half of eligible teachers to be dues-paying members of a union or the union should be decertified. Teachers argue the law, which takes effect July 1, is unconstitutional because it defies a provision added to the constitution in 1968 after a teachers strike, and discriminatory because it targets only them. WLRN. Teachers talk about union membership and how they think it’s affected their paychecks and classrooms. WLRN.
School security: The Brevard County School District begins advertising to fill 28 school security specialist positions for the 2018-2019 school year. The pay is listed at $25,444 to $37,915 for the 10-month position, with benefits pushing the value of the package to about $40,400. The specialists, who will carry concealed weapons, will work at elementary schools that don’t already have a resource officer. Florida Today. Orlando Sentinel. WOFL. The executive director of the School Safety Advocacy Council says he has concerns about the Sarasota County School District’s ability to hire and train a police department by August, and has pulled out of a consulting role with the district. “We only lend our name and our expertise to processes that we have confidence are going to be 100 percent successful,” says Curt Lavarello. “At this point, I don’t have that feeling that this is on the path to success, from what I’ve heard.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune.