Archive | Virtual Education

Florida schools roundup: H.B. 7069 lawsuits, raises, top teachers and more

Suit dismissal denied: A Leon County circuit judge denies the state’s request to dismiss a Palm Beach County School Board lawsuit against a portion of the education law, H.B. 7069. The district says the law is unconstitutional because it infringes on the rights of local school boards by requiring them to share local property tax money with charter schools. The state says the Palm Beach board’s “claims are based on erroneous interpretations of the Florida Constitution” and contends the state has the authority to supervise the public school system. News Service of Florida. Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court is transferring another case, this one brought by nine school districts alleging that H.B. 7069 violates the constitutional single-subject rule for laws. The case will now be heard in a Leon County circuit court. The education bill began as a six-page proposal but expanded to 274 pages and dozens of subjects in the final days of the 2017 legislative session. Gradebook. Florida Politics. redefinEDPolitico Florida.

Pay raises coming: The Broward County School Board approves a pay raise proposal for teachers. Most teachers will get a raise of at least 2.5 percent, while ones rated as “highly effective” will get up to 3.6 percent. The raises are retroactive to July, and will appear in teachers’ paychecks in January. The deal, which was approved by 91 percent of the teachers who voted, will cost the district $24.3 million. Sun-Sentinel.

Teachers honored: Chasey Niebrugge, an exceptional student education teacher at River Hall Elementary in Alva, is chosen as the Lee County School District’s teacher of the year. WBBH. Fort Myers News-Press. Four finalists are chosen for the St. Johns County School District’s teacher of the year award. They are: Amy Grimm, 1st grade, Julington Creek Elementary; Kathleen Hunting, 2nd grade, Osceola Elementary; Chassity Johnson, 8th grade math, Sebastian Middle; and Jonathan Higgins, psychology, Pedro Menendez High. The winner will be announced Jan. 24. St. Augustine Record. Joseph Underwood, who teaches television production at Miami Senior High School, is one of 50 teachers in the world chosen as finalists for the 2018 Global Teacher Prize awarded by the Varkey Foundation. The winner receives $100,000 a year for 10 years.

Continue Reading →

Hundreds displaced by hurricanes sign up for Florida virtual courses

Hundreds of students displaced by this fall’s hurricanes have signed up for classes with Florida’s statewide public virtual school.

Florida Virtual School offered its services to students displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria this fall. So far, spokeswoman Tania Clow said 337 students have signed up for classes using its dedicated hurricane relief “schoolhouse.”

The majority — 219 — live in Puerto Rico. Nearly a third of the island remains without power. Schools have struggled to reopen. They rely on generators, and their schedules remain out of whack. Thousands of students have fled to the mainland. States as far away as Pennsylvania have begun clammoring for aid.

Another of the 110 students are based in Florida, with a handful in the U.S. Virgin Islands and other states.

Florida Virtual School functions like a statewide school district, and is funded through the same pool of money as other public schools. It also offers classes around the world. Like its hurricane relief efforts, those classes rely on separate revenue sources.

The number of students signed up for virtual classes pales in comparison to the thousands Florida’s brick-and-mortar schools have begun to absorb. State lawmakers are expected to grapple with funding public education for those students when their annual session convenes in January.

Florida schools roundup: Net neutrality and schools, term limits and more

Net neutrality and schools: Critics of the federal government’s rule to end net neutrality say teachers and students could be adversely affected. The new rules would allow Internet providers to charge more, and to give priority and bandwidth to people paying a premium and to streaming video services that are owned by those companies. That could put educational users in a cue waiting for service. Some critics also worry that some companies could suppress or de-emphasize certain viewpoints. Telecommunications company officials say those worries are overstated. The 74.

School board term limits: There’s already a proposed constitutional amendment creating school board term limits that is working its way through the Constitution Revision Commission. Now, a Florida lawmaker has filed a bill that would also set term limits of two four-year terms for members and would have to be approved by voters. The bill was filed by Rep. Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville, and it’s identical to a bill filed in the Senate by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota. The legislative session starts Jan. 9. News Service of Florida.

Schools of Hope rules: The proposed rules for potential Schools of Hope operators are now posted on the Florida Department of Education website. The biggest change allows the state to bypass the proposed benchmarks and instead use the attainment of one of three “measurable criteria” standards to name a company a “hope operator.” Gradebook.

Continue Reading →

Florida schools roundup: Scholarship reforms, Bright Futures bill and more

Scholarship reforms: School choice advocates recommend a series of reforms at a House education subcommittee hearing Wednesday called to discuss concerns about oversight of private K-12 schools that receive money from one of the state’s scholarship programs. Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up For Students, which helps administer two of the programs and hosts this blog, says the state should eliminate the cap on inspections of those private schools, have fire and inspection reports submitted directly to the state, and demand those schools adopt stronger financial reporting requirements. Orlando SentinelredefinED.

Bright Futures: The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approves a bill that would permanently expand Bright Futures scholarships. S.B. 4 would fully fund Bright Futures scholarships for about 41,000 students who have a grade point average of at least a 3.5 as well as a score of 1,290 on the SAT or a 29 on the ACT, and provide 75 percent funding to Medallion scholars. It now goes to the Senate floor. Sunshine State News. Meanwhile, a House committee approves a “Sunshine scholarship” proposal that would cover tuition and fees for students entering the Florida College System whose family income is less than $50,000. Politico Florida.

Virtual teachers’ union: Administrators of the Florida Virtual School are fighting back against a drive to unionize the school’s teachers. “We believe that a union is not needed here at FLVS and that bringing a union into our school can drastically affect our relationship with you,” CEO Jodi Marshall wrote in an email to the staff. “That is why we intend to oppose the union by every legal means available to us.” Gradebook.

Continue Reading →

Florida schools roundup: Graduation options, suit, schools of hope and more

Graduation path options: A Florida legislator files a bill that would offer alternative paths to a high school degree for those students who earn enough credits to graduate but don’t pass the state algebra 1 and language arts tests. State Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Beverly Hills, wants those students to be able to use an industry-recognized certification or a portfolio of school work to earn a standard diploma. Gradebook.

H.B. 7069 lawsuit: When 13 state school districts filed suit against the state’s new education law, H.B. 7069, the largest district in the state was conspicuous by its absence. Miami-Dade County school officials have strongly criticized the law, but decided not to join the suit. Instead, school board members will lobby legislators to amend the law to address their concerns. “We made a very clear determination that ongoing dialogue, ongoing collaboration — until it was determined that it has been exhausted — is prudent,” says board member Steve Gallon. If the options are exhausted, Gallon says, the board will take another look at joining the lawsuit. WLRN.

Schools of hope: Two Bay County schools that were named “schools of hope” by the state Board of Education this week have different plans for the extra money they will receive. Springfield Elementary will spend its $903,424 grant on mental health services and counseling, and classroom support for teachers. Lucille Moore Elementary officials plan to use their $1,022,048 grant to boost parental involvement and engagement in students’ education, among other things. Eleven schools of hope were designated by the state. Each receives an extra $2,000 per student to provide provide such additional services as tutoring, counseling, more teacher coaches and salary supplements for teachers to run student clubs. Panama City News Herald. WJHG.

Continue Reading →

Florida schools roundup: Hope Scholarship, enrollment counts and more

‘Hope Scholarship’: Bullied and abused public school students could be eligible next year for a new school choice program being proposed by Florida House Republicans. Under the program, dubbed the “Hope Scholarship,” those students could apply for a transfer to a different public school or for a state scholarship to attend a private school. Nearly 47,000 incidents of bullying, hazing or abuse are reported each year in Florida schools, and most involve violence. The legislation has not yet been written, but House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, says the scholarship could be set up like the tax credit scholarship program, which provides scholarships for more than 100,000 low-income students to attend private schools. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer that program. Miami Herald. Orlando SentinelredefinED. News Service of FloridaGradebook. Politico Florida. Sunshine State News. WUSF.

Enrollment uncertainty: Legislators say the effects of the hurricane season are causing uncertainty in estimating K-12 enrollment for the next school year. Officials were working off an estimate of an additional 26,764 students for the 2018-2019 school year, but that was before several hurricanes swept through the islands and displaced thousands. “If you have more students (than the estimate), you spread it thinner,” says Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, talking about the school funding formula. “If you have less students, you don’t get the money.” So far, 12 districts and 19 charter schools are asking the state to delay the usual timetable for counting school enrollment, which is typically this week. If the requests are approved, the counts would have to be done no later than the week of Dec. 11-15. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Almost 150 Puerto Rican students displaced by Hurricane Maria already have registered to attend schools in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Manatee and Polk counties. About 440 have signed up in Orange and Osceola counties. Hundreds, if not thousands more, are expected. WMNF.

Local education agencies: Two charter school companies in Florida are applying to the state to be designated as local education agencies, which would allow them to directly receive federal funding for teacher training, supporting low-income students or helping children with special needs, and gives also them greater control over how they use the money. Somerset Academy, which recently took over the Jefferson County School District, and the United Cerebral Palsy schools, which serve special needs students in central Florida, want to join two other state charter school networks in getting the designation. redefinED.

Continue Reading →

Florida schools roundup: Virtual school, dropouts, charter schools and more

Virtual school outreach: More than 20,000 Puerto Rican students displaced by Hurricane Maria will be offered free access to course offered by the Florida Virtual School, whether they’re at home or in Florida. “I am glad that Florida Virtual School has stepped up to help these families as they rebuild their lives,” says Gov. Rick Scott. “The state of Florida will continue to do all we can to help them during this challenging time.” The state is also encouraging all 67 school districts to accept displaced students. Many districts are already see enrollment of students from Puerto Rico and other areas hard-hit by the hurricane. WJHG. WFLA. WESH. WQAMMiami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. WWSB. WPLG. WUSF.

Dropout dollars: For-profit dropout recovery schools in Florida, Ohio and Illinois are aggressively recruiting at-risk students and counting them as enrolled even after they stop attending school in order to keep collecting public money, according to a review of public records and state auditors. Dropout recovery schools are enrolling an increasing number of struggling students who are offloaded by traditional high schools that want to keep test scores and graduation rates up. ProPublica.

Charter conversion: The Florida Department of Education has begun a process that could lead to the transfer of control of the Madison County Central School to a charter company. The state has informed the district it must reassign some teachers and form a community assessment team by Oct. 18. By Nov. 15, the school board would be presented three options: close the school, bring in an approved charter company to take over the school, or hire a charter company that is managed by the district. Superintendent Karen Pickles says the district-managed charter plan is the only acceptable option. Madison County Carrier.

Charter application: The Marion County School Board will vote Tuesday on a charter school application from Charter Schools USA. The for-profit charter company wants to build the Southeast Marion Charter School, which would start at K-6 with 615 students but add a grade in each of the first two years to top out at K-8 and 745 students. The company plans to build the school with state funds. If it fails, the property would be owned by Charter Schools USA. Ocala Star-Banner.

Continue Reading →

Florida Virtual School steps into breach after Irma

Some communities – especially in Southwest Florida and the Keys – could take time to recover from the damage of Hurricane Irma. Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Most Florida public schools have reopened after recovering from Hurricane Irma. But some — especially in the Keys and the southwestern part of the state — won’t be back until next week at the earliest. And some individual families could face disruption and hardship long after local schools are up and running.

The statewide public virtual school has stepped into the breach. Gov. Rick Scott reminded people of the option in a statement yesterday.

“As families across the state continue to recover from Hurricane Irma, we must make sure our students have access to every resource they need to remain successful in school,” he said. Continue Reading →