School shooting report: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission approves a 458-page final report that calls on the state to arm willing teachers, provide more money to add school resource officers and harden school buildings and campuses, and streamline communications between schools and law enforcement agencies, among the dozens of recommendations. The report now goes to Gov. Rick Scott, Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis and Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. Sun Sentinel. Miami Herald. Associated Press. News Service of Florida. Gradebook. WJCT. WTVJ. WTLV. Capitolist. Florida Politics. DeSantis says he’ll decide soon whether to suspend Broward Sheriff Scott Israel for the agency’s failures during the shooting at the Parkland school Feb. 14. Sun Sentinel.
Education and Legislature: State Rep. Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, the chair of the PreK-12 Appropriations committee and vice chair of the education committee, says the Legislature is likely to tweak the significant education bills passed in 2017 and 2018, but probably won’t have any single bill that “will dramatically change the education system, as we’ve done the past few years.” Gradebook.
Bright Futures: The number of students in Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarship program is forecast to grow by 5.7 percent this year, by 3,223 to 99,483, with the projected costs rising from $545 million to $583 million, according to state economists. Students who qualify for the Bright Futures’ “academic scholars” program receive 100 percent of tuition and fees at state universities and colleges and $300 for books. Students must have a 3.5 grade point average and score at least a 1290 on the SAT or 29 on the ACT and complete 100 hours of community service to qualify for the program. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida.
Shooting panel report: The state’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission is expected to issue a draft report this week that details its findings and recommendations. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the panel, says the initial recommendations are going to be practical, quick and cost-effective things to improve security in schools. “Physical site security will be a robust area for discussion because I believe there are immediate things that are absolutely essential to do that are low or no cost and don’t require any substantial law or regulation that will greatly enhance the safety of the campuses,” he says. Sun-Sentinel. Associated Press.
Education amendments: Two Florida school officials are offering amendments to the state constitution that would provide more public financial support for schools other than traditional public schools. Marva Johnson, a member of the Florida Board of Education and Florida Constitution Revision Commission, is urging changes that would allow public money to be used for private schools “in the event that a student’s right to an education that meets his or her individual needs and learning differences.” Erika Donalds, a member of the Collier County School Board and the commission, is proposing an amendment allowing the Legislature to make a provision for “other educational services that benefit the children and families of this state that are in addition to the system of free public schools.” If the amendments are approved for the ballot, they would need the support of 60 percent of voters to go into effect. Tampa Bay Times. redefinED. News Service of Florida.
District’s book ban: The superintendent of the Dixie County School District has issued a ban on instructional materials that contain “profanity, cursing or inappropriate subject matter.” Mike Thomas issued the ban after a parent complained about sexual references in the book A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest Gaines, but Thomas denies any connection between the complaint and the ban. Thomas says a committee will be formed to review instructional materials. Gainesville Sun.
Educators honored: Five finalists are chosen for Orange County teacher of the year. They are: Kenneth Boyd, music teacher at West Orange High School; Cindi Brasch, a teacher for the “hospital homebound”; Kyle Dencker, computer science teacher at Timber Creek High School; Bernie Hendricks, band director at Ocoee High School; and Sandy Mercer, a teacher for disabled students at Lake Silver Elementary School. The winner will be announced in December. Orlando Sentinel. Larissa Bennett, counselor at Virgil Mills Elementary School in Palmetto, is named school counselor of the year by the Florida School Counselor Association. Bradenton Herald. WWSB.
Religious schools and vouchers: Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions this week could have implications for the constitutionality of vouchers for religious institutions. Monday, the court ruled that Missouri could not exclude private religious schools from a playground grant program. Tuesday, the court ordered the Colorado Supreme Court to reconsider a decision that the state’s Blaine Amendment prohibits public funding of religious institutions. redefinED. Education Week. Associated Press.
Voucher studies: Long-term studies in Louisiana and Indiana show that former public school students who keep private school vouchers for several years eventually catch up and sometimes pass their peers in reading and math tests. Earlier, shorter-term studies have shown that those students tend to lag behind their public school peers. redefinED.
Immunizations upheld: Parochial schools can require students to get immunizations to be admitted, the First District Court of Appeal rules. A parent filed the appeal after the Holy Spirit School in Jacksonville refused to admit his child without immunizations. News Service of Florida.
Teaching bonuses: The Manatee School for the Arts is offering bonuses of up to $3,000 fill two 6th-grade math teaching positions, plus higher than expected salaries. The district has sent recruitment letters to the most highly rated math teachers in school districts around the state. Bradenton Herald.