Flagler principal dies of coronavirus complications, vaccination plans, DOE slams Sarasota, and more
Tax vote scuttled: Brevard County School Board members don’t think voters will approve a property tax increase to pay for school security and employee pay raises, so they’ve decided not to ask. They say there’s not enough time to educate voters, and they worry that putting the referendum on the ballot will jeopardize the renewal of the half-cent sales tax surcharge. So now the board will be looking at layoffs and cutting expenses and programs. Pennie Zuercher, the district’s chief financial officer, estimated the budget deficit will be about $5.3 million. Florida Today.
FSA test results: More reports on how school districts around the state, and some struggling schools in particular, did in the Florida Standards Assessments testing for reading and math for grades 3-12, science for 5th- and 8th-graders and end-of-course exams in biology, civics and U.S. history. Testing results are part of the formula used to assign grades to individual schools and districts. Miami Herald. Florida Times-Union. WUSF. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. WJCT. WSNN. Bradenton Herald. Bradenton Times. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Island Reporter. WBBH. Naples Daily News. Flagler Live. Ocala Star-Banner. Northwest Florida Daily News. Vero News. WJHG. Lakeland Ledger. Charlotte Sun. Walton Sun. Highlands News-Sun. Marco Eagle. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Panama City News Herald. WLRN. Bridge to Tomorrow. WMBB.
School security: Miami-Dade school officials are asking city and county officials for help in putting school resource officers in schools that do not already have officers. The district has its own police force, and its officers cover all middle and high schools. But that leaves about 240 schools uncovered. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho plans to use $4 million from the state to hire 40 to 50 officers for the district force, and is offering $4 million to be distributed among the county and 34 municipalities. WLRN. WFOR. Jupiter Police Chief Frank J. Kitzerow Jr. is chosen to become police chief of the Palm Beach County School District. Kitzerow, 61, has been chief in Jupiter since 2004. The school board is expected to approve the appointment at its Wednesday meeting. Palm Beach Post. Sun-Sentinel. The St. Johns County School Board authorizes Superintendent Tim Forson to negotiate and contract with law enforcement agencies to provide armed security at any district school not already covered by deputies from the sheriff’s office. St. Augustine Record. The Palm Beach and Martin county school districts have bought workplace violence insurance in case any of their schools are attacked by anyone with a weapon. WPTV.
Education bill: The Florida legislative session moves into its final three weeks, with a series of education issues to be decided. The Senate is reviewing the House education bill, and among the proposals being considered is replacing the House bill with the Senate version. Both bills would establish a Hope Scholarship for students who are victims of bullying or violence, though they disagree on how to pay for the program, and force teachers unions to disband if paying membership falls below 50 percent of the employees represented. Higher education issues, such as permanently funding an increase in Bright Futures scholarships, also will be addressed. News Service of Florida. redefinED. Gradebook. WUSF. Miami New Times. Gatehouse Media. WLRN. About 150 Tampa Bay area teachers protest against H.B. 7055 just down the street from House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s Land O’Lakes office. Gradebook.
Political pressure: Marjory Stoneman Douglas students plan a march on the capital Wednesday to demand action on gun safety, just one of several rallies planned. Florida legislators say they will consider laws enacting an age limit to buy an assault rifle and add a three-day waiting period for all rifle purchases. Gov. Rick Scott has organized three meetings today to discuss school safety improvements and ways to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illnesses. Miami Herald. Associated Press. Politico Florida. News Service of Florida. Orlando Sentinel. Sunshine State News. Florida Politics. WLRN. Legislation pushed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will be considered once legislators strip out a provision allowing people to get a concealed carry permit without a thorough background check. Politico Florida. President Donald Trump says he would support an improvement in putting criminal offenses and other data into the national instant background check system. Sun-Sentinel. Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie has spent much of the past five days acting as a tour guide for state and national politicians to the tragic shooting in Parkland, with the bullet casings and pools of blood still on the floors. “We’ve given them detailed tours and explanations of what has happened so they become sensitized to the tragedy and we can get the support we need,” Runcie says. “We only have one opportunity to make sure they understand what was inflicted on our community.” Miami Herald.
Cruz’s rifles, appearance: Accused school shooter Nikolas Cruz had purchased 10 rifles in the year leading up to the killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland last week. CNN. Cruz made his first appearance in a Broward circuit court Monday, but said nothing. The appearance was to discuss a sealed defense document that reportedly involved access of defense lawyers to Cruz. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. WKMG. NBC News. Sun-Sentinel. The Florida Department of Children and Families will release 22 pages from a 2016 report compiled after caseworkers visited Cruz. The DCF got approval for the unusual move from a Broward County judge, which was necessary because Florida law prohibits the release of DCF files without a court order. Miami Herald.
Opening addresses: The governor, speaker of the House and president of the Senate all outline their goals for the 2018 legislative session, which began Tuesday. Gov. Rick Scott makes a pitch for his $87.4 billion budget, which includes raising more money for K-12 spending by allowing rising property values to boost tax revenues. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Sunshine State News. Palm Beach Post. Politico Florida. Associated Press. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, takes direct aim at Scott’s property tax plan, saying the House won’t allow taxes to go up directly or indirectly. “We have taken this moral high ground, and we will not give it up,” he says. Corcoran also vows to protect bullied students by offering them state scholarships to switch schools. Gradebook. Sunshine State News. WFSU. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Politico Florida. WLRN. Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, says he wants to expand Bright Futures scholarships for college students and K-12 school choice, address the opioid crisis and crack down on sexual harassment. Tampa Bay Times. Sunshine State News.
School choice bills: There are at least 10 school choice-related bills to watch as the Legislature begins its 60-day session. Among them are the scholarships for bullied students, an easing of state requirements for homeschooled children, expansion of a personalized learning program, and more access for special-needs students to use the state’s McKay Scholarships. redefinED.
Homeschool bill moving: The House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee unanimously approves a bill that would limit the authority local school districts exercise on homeschooled students, and increase those students’ access to dual enrollment and career education courses. The bill now heads to the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee. redefinED. Gradebook. Politico Florida.
A call for reform: Legislators and local school officials are calling for better oversight of private schools that get millions of dollars from the state’s three scholarship programs. A series in the Orlando Sentinel last week detailed how some of those schools hired uncertified teachers with criminal backgrounds and submitted falsified fire reports for years without the state taking action against them. State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, remains a supporter of the tax credit, Gardiner and McKay scholarships, but agrees that “there’s some place between no regulation and over-regulation.” Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the tax credit and Gardiner scholarship programs. Orlando Sentinel.
Teacher pay: Gov. Rick Scott has pushed for higher teacher pay in the past, but now is saying that the decision is out of his hands. “The way our system is set up in our state those decisions are made at the local level,” Scott said during a discussion with teachers. “What I tell everybody is, ‘You have to be active with your school board members, your superintendents.’ ” Associated Press. Scott did say that his budget proposal will include $63 million for teachers to help buy classroom supplies, an increase of $18 million over last year. That would bump the $250 a year teachers receive for supplies to $350. WTLV.
‘Schools of hope’: The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter school network is working on establishing a “school of hope” in the Liberty City area of Miami. The tentative agreement calls for the Miami-Dade County School Board to provide KIPP Miami with a facility, and KIPP would receive a state grant to help disadvantaged students and share its training programs with the district. The “schools of hope” program was set up by the Legislature to offer financial incentives so charter companies could move into neighborhoods with persistently struggling schools. KIPP is the nation’s largest nonprofit charter school network. redefinED.