Sandy Hook Promise
Federal scholarship proposal: A $5 billion-a-year federal tax credit scholarship program is proposed by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. If approved by Congress, the program would offer federal tax credits for corporations that contribute to groups that give students scholarships to private schools. Similar tax credit scholarship program exist in 18 states, including Florida. Step Up For Students (SUFS), which hosts this blog, helps administer the Florida program. The 74. Florida Politics. WLRN. Education Week. Since Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his intention to eliminate the 13,000-families waiting list for Florida Tax Credit Scholarships, SUFS is receiving about 800 applications a day. redefinED.
Legislative session preview: Education funding, the expansion of school choice and security in the state’s schools are among the top 10 issues to watch in the 60-day legislative session that begins Tuesday. News Service of Florida. State Rep. Kim Daniels, D-Jacksonville, will miss the opening of the session to make an appearance on the 700 Club, a religious program on the Christian Broadcasting Network. Florida Politics.
Arming school employees: More than a third of the 24 Florida school districts that chose to hire armed guardians for their schools are having trouble recruiting applicants, according to a review conducted by a newspaper and University of Florida student journalists. And some are having trouble with the ones they have hired. Those problems have led many to miss the state deadline to have the guards in place in schools. Tampa Bay Times. School districts had money to spend on school security and few guidelines on how to spend it, and some chose travel, banners and clothing over training supplies, weapons and salaries. Tampa Bay Times. Students at Booker Middle School in Sarasota County get training in the “see something, say something” warning program developed by the Sandy Hook Promise organization. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The St. Lucie County School District now has a deputy and single points of entry in all schools. TCPalm.
Taxes for capital projects: A bill is filed that would allow local school boards to raise their capital tax rates to as much as 2 mills per $1,000 assessed property value with a supermajority vote. Almost 10 years ago, the Legislature capped those rates at 1.5 mills, and several attempts to push the limit back up have failed. The bill filed by State Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, is intended to help districts pay for long-deferred maintenance. Gradebook. Work is expected to begin soon on repairing or replacing air-conditioning systems at Hillsborough County schools with sales tax money approved by voters in November. The tax could generate up to $150 million a year. Gradebook.
School security: The Broward County School Board and the county have been awarded $1.2 million in grants from the Department of Justice to improve threat assessments and reporting, crisis interventions, training and mental health services. The grants were part of the $70 million awarded to U.S. school districts, law enforcement agencies and cities under the federal STOP School Violence Act. Education Week. The Pinellas County School District is emphasizing the personal side of school security by encouraging students to care for one another and recognize when a classmate is troubled. The strategy was developed by the Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit founded by family members of students killed in the 2012 school shooting in Connecticut. Tampa Bay Times. The Osceola County School District is the latest to ban backpacks from after-school sporting events. School officials also say all bags would be subject to a search, and metal detecting wands could be used. Orlando Sentinel.
Legislative meetings: Florida Senate and House leaders say legislative committees will meet during the weeks of Dec. 11, Jan. 7, Jan. 22, Feb. 4, Feb. 11 and Feb. 19. No education bills have been filed yet, but it’s expected to again be a key and sometimes contentious issue. The 60-day legislative session begins March 5. Gradebook.
School violence: The Miami-Dade School District becomes the first in the country to implement the Sandy Hook Promise in all its schools. It’s a violence-protection program started by parents who lost children in the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre in 2012. It emphasizes social inclusion by reaching out to isolated students, and trains students and staff to see warning signs. Miami Herald.
Superintendent’s job: The chairwoman of the Duval County School Board member asks School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to resign or face termination at a meeting Friday, according to Vitti. He says he won’t quit. Chairwoman Ashley Smith Juarez has accused Vitti of not being truthful with the board. She also has criticized the district’s performance on state exams, and says Vitti’s goals for improving those scores are not aggressive enough. Florida Times-Union.
CPR training: Orange County students are now being required to take CPR training before graduating. The training will be provided during a physical education course or another required course. Orlando Sentinel.
Impact fees: A Lake County commissioner urges the school board to waive part of the school impact fees on builders. Leslie Campione wants the board to reduce the fees on homes built within two miles of existing schools in established neighborhoods. Doing so could cost the school district about $1 million a year. Orlando Sentinel. Daily Commercial.