Archive | Virtual Education

Florida schools roundup: Homework ban, Newpoint indictment and more

District homework ban: Marion County School Superintendent Heidi Maier is banning daily homework for the district’s 20,000 elementary school students. Instead, school officials are asking parents to read with their children for 20 minutes every night. Maier says the decision is based on research by Richard Allington, a University of Tennessee professor who found that reading to a child has more positive effects on children than homework. Ocala Star Banner.

Charter company charged: Newpoint Education Partners, a charter school management company, is indicted by a grand jury in Escambia County for alleged fraudulent billing of charter schools for computers, furniture and curriculum services, and concealing it by laundering the money through multiple bank accounts. Earlier this year the founder of Newpoint, Marcus May, and an associate were charged with fraud and racketeering in connection with the operation of 15 charter schools in Escambia, Bay, Broward, Duval, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. WJXT, Associated PressWFLA. Pensacola News Journal.

Safety for exchange students: Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is calling on the federal government to tighten screening of potential hosts for foreign exchange students. A host parent, the husband of a district administrator, was arrested recently in Cutler Bay on charges of molesting an exchange student. He then killed himself. Miami HeraldWSVN.

Foreign languages: About 21 percent of Florida K-12 students studied a foreign language during the 2014-2015 school year, according to a report from the American Councils for International Education. The national average is 19.66 percent. More than 80 percent of the Florida students take Spanish, and about 10 percent take French. Education Week. Continue Reading →

Florida schools roundup: District lawsuit to target H.B. 7069, charters and more

District to sue state: The Broward County School Board votes to pursue a lawsuit against the state over H.B. 7069, saying the law improperly forces districts to share property tax revenue with charter schools and strips local boards of the authority to approve or deny charter applications. The Miami-Dade, Orange and Pinellas districts are considering joining the suit, says the Broward board’s attorney, Barbara Myrick. The board set aside $25,000 to begin work on the suit, which will argue that some provisions of the bill are unconstitutional. Myrick couldn’t say when the suit will be filed, but there’s a six-month window to file a suit under the single-subject clause. Sun Sentinel. Miami HeraldTampa Bay Times. News Service of FloridaThe Capitolist. WSVN.

Change talk ‘premature’: Many politicians and educators are already pushing for the Legislature to revise H.B. 7069, the broad education bill signed into law last month and effective since July 1. But Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, who chairs the House’s pre-K-12 education budget committee, says any talk of change is “way too premature. Making adjustments going forward — we first have to see what happens instead of jumping the gun.” The primary complaint about the bill is the money it sets aside for charter schools. Miami Herald. Levy County School Board members add their voices to those complaining about the education bill. Board members say it excessively favors charter schools, restricts local decision-making and doesn’t adequately fund public education. Cedar Key Beacon.

School traffic safety: Traffic studies urge the Flagler County School District to encourage bus riding and discourage parents driving their children to and from school. The traffic endangers students and causes congestion, according to the studies of each of the county’s elementary and middle schools. The studies were sponsored by the Transportation Planning Organization, which is made up of elected officials from all local governments. Flagler Live. Continue Reading →

Florida schools roundup: Capital for charter schools, a hack attack and more

Charter schools: Florida charter schools could get an extra $96.3 million from school districts that will now have to share the tax money they collect for capital projects, according to Florida House estimates. That’s nearly 7 percent of the money school districts could have after debt service is subtracted, as H.B. 7069 stipulates. The $96.3 million is a maximum  estimate, says Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah. Charter schools need to meet certain academic and financial standards and have been operating for two or more years to be eligible for the money. Miami-Dade and Broward will be among the districts hardest hit in sheer dollars, but tiny Sumter and Franklin counties will have the highest percentages of shared dollars, at 33 and 24 percent, respectively. Miami Herald. Manatee and Sarasota counties are two of the counties that will have share higher percentages of their capital funding with charter schools under the new education law. Sarasota is third in the state at 13.54 percent, and Manatee is 11th at 9.26 percent. Manatee School Superintendent Diana Greene says the district will continue with plans to build three new schools, but the law could have an impact on smaller projects. Bradenton Herald. Wayman Academy of the Arts is one of five charter schools in Duval County to earn an A grade  from the state this year. The school, which draws its students from a poor neighborhood in Jacksonville, now has received every possible grade from the state in its 17-year existence. Florida Times-Union.

District hacked: The St. Lucie County School District’s Twitter account was hacked last week, and several racially charged messages were posted and stayed online for more than nine hours before being removed. The cyberattack was just one of several against school districts around the United States, according to St. Lucie School Superintendent Wayne Gent. School officials are unhappy with the difficulty they had contacting Twitter and its response time. “It took way too long,” Gent said. “It should’ve been done immediately.” TCPalm.

Fighting failure: As the 2016-2017 school year began, another first year of a rebuilding process began at Fairmount Park Elementary School. It had a new principal, new and inexperienced teachers, and a history of failure. Fairmount is located in a poor St. Petersburg neighborhood and in 2014, was one of five city elementary schools labeled a “failure factory.” But this year it had a plan, and better resources, and hope. Tampa Bay Times. Continue Reading →

Florida schools roundup: Education bills signed, politics, hiring freeze and more

Bills signed: Seven education bills are among the 29 that Gov. Rick Scott signs into law. They are: H.B. 3A, which boosts per-pupil spending in K-12 schools by $100 a year; H.B. 15, which expands Gardiner scholarship eligibility and funding for students with special needs; H.B. 989, which allows any resident to challenge textbooks and materials used in school; H.B. 1109, which allows private school students to participate in some public school extracurricular activities; H.B. 1239, which hikes the penalties for injury-accidents resulting from a school bus passing violation; H.B. 899, which relates to transitional educational programs; and H.B. 781, which revises rules on school grades for feeder schools. News Service of Florida. Associated PressGradebook. WCTVPolitico Florida. Last week Scott signed H.B. 749, which allows charter school and Florida Virtual School employees to be eligible for state employee adoption benefits. Palm Beach Post.

Educational politics: How much of a factor will the recently enacted education bill, H.B. 7069, be in next year’s elections? The architect of the bill, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, thinks the answer is a lot. Corcoran, who is widely thought to be a candidate for governor, recently tweeted: “The bill is virtually 100% public school funding. It will be an issue in 2018. A referendum on who cares more about low income education!” And U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat who is expecting a challenge from Republican Gov. Rick Scott, bashed Scott’s signing of the bill in a recent letter asking for support. Gradebook.

Hiring freeze lifted: The less-than-1-month-old Hillsborough County School District hiring freeze has been lifted for teachers. It remains in effect for all non-classroom personnel except school bus drivers. Gradebook. Continue Reading →

HB 7069 lifts Florida’s last remaining virtual education restrictions

Gov. Rick Scott signed a major education bill last week that, in addition to equalizing funding for Florida charter schools, also removes the state’s last remaining restrictions on virtual education eligibility for elementary school students.

HB 7069 also eliminates geographic boundaries for virtual education and creates statewide open enrollment for virtual charter schools.

Florida Virtual School functions like a statewide school district, enrolling students in online classes full and part-time.

Under existing laws, students in second through fifth grades can’t enroll in virtual courses part-time. Children in middle and high school can only take certain part-time courses if they were enrolled in public schools the previous years. Continue Reading →

Florida schools roundup: Schools of hope compromise, budget and more

Schools of hope: A compromise on the “schools of hope” bill is drawing support from previously opposed Democratic lawmakers. The $200 million measure was introduced by the House to offer incentives to highly regarded charter school companies to open schools in areas where traditional public schools are persistently low performing. While details of the compromise are not known, some Democrats involved in the process say it’s a mixture of the original House bill and a Senate suggestion that more money be made available to public schools before charters are recruited. “I think we’re 80 percent there” on a final compromise, says House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes. Miami HeraldPolitico FloridaWFSU. Teachers and education activists protest the legislation at a news conference in Tampa. “Diverting $200 million in our taxpayer money away from our children’s public schools to unaccountable private companies is a terrible plan,” said Michelle Prieto, coordinator for the group Mi Familia Vota. Florida Politics.

Budget agreement: Senate and House leaders announce a deal on an $83 billion budget that blends the educational priorities of both chambers. Details are being worked out in conference committee. Associated PressPolitico Florida. Public school leaders make a last-minute push for more K-12 funding. Politico Florida.

Virtual open enrollment: The House passes a bill allowing Florida students to attend any virtual charter school in the state that is authorized by a school district. Right now, students can only attend the virtual school in the district in which they live. Many consider the bill as the natural extension of the state’s new open enrollment law, which allows any student to attend any public school that has space available. redefinED. Continue Reading →

Bills would create open enrollment for Florida virtual charter schools

Florida students might soon be able to attend virtual charter schools authorized by any school district in the state, no matter where they live.

The potential change has moved through the Legislature with ease, though it remains unresolved as the annual lawmaking session approaches its May 5 end date.

A bill that passed the House this week on an overwhelming 115-1 vote would extend the state’s public-school open enrollment law to virtual charters.

The open-enrollment law, passed last year, allows parents to transport their children to any public school in the state that has room for them.

But separate laws govern virtual charters and district-controlled virtual instruction programs, which are local virtual schools run by private online learning companies. Continue Reading →

Florida schools roundup: Education bill, autonomy for schools and more

Education bill: The Florida House Education Committee passes H.B. 733, the nearly all-inclusive education bill that would cut standardized testing and make significant changes to the state’s K-12 education system. The bill does not include mandatory recess time for elementary students, which is in the Senate’s proposal. Miami Herald. Sunshine State News. Florida Politics. Included in a 76-page amendment to the bill are several provisions to help charter and virtual schools. redefinED. The feud between House and Senate leaders over the state budget continues, though several still think they can reach an agreement before the session is scheduled to end May 5. News Service of Florida. Sunshine State News.

Autonomy for schools: A bill passed by the House would broaden autonomy for principals from a pilot program in seven districts to the highest-performing 20 percent of all public schools. Under the pilot program, principals at low-performing schools have greater control over hiring and would be freed from some state regulations. redefinED.

Teacher contracts: Two special state magistrates have issued different interpretations to districts about whether they can negotiate contract renewal guarantees for teachers who are rated highly effective or effective. In both cases, the districts told the teachers unions a 2011 law did not allow guaranteed teacher contracts. Unions in St. Johns and Pasco counties wouldn’t agree to a contract without that guarantee. In St. Johns, a magistrate agreed with the teachers union. In Pasco, a magistrate sided with the district. Gradebook.

High school rankings: Pine View School in Osprey is rated the top high school in the state in the latest U.S. News & World Report’s rankings. Design and Architecture Senior High in Miami is second, International Studies Charter High School in Miami third, International Studies Preparatory Academy in Coral Gables fourth, and Westshore Junior/Senior High School in Melbourne fifth. U.S. News & World Report. Miami HeraldNaples Daily News. South Florida Business Journal. Continue Reading →