SCHOOL SECURITY: Hillsborough's school police chief steps down as the district embarks upon an ambitious plan to expand the department.
AGREEMENT REACHED: The Hillsborough School Board votes to pay $500,000 to the family of a girl with autism who drowned behind her school after walking away from class.
INSPIRATION: The Patel Conservatory hires a music therapist to instruct students with special needs.
TEACHER EVALUATIONS: Florida's evaluation model holds almost no one accountable and should be replaced, the Times editorializes. • Another year of nearly all Florida teachers being rated as effective or better leads to questions of whether the system is flawed, the Florida Times-Union reports. • The state needs evaluations that inform people rather than confusing them, the Bradenton Herald editorializes.
SMALL SAMPLE: Alachua officials note that none of their students took the PISA tests that are being used to compare students internationally, the Gainesville Sun reports.
HIGH TECH: A private middle/high school becomes Brevard's first campus to fully move from paper to tablet technology for all students, Florida Today reports. …Full Story
MacDill Air Force Base
Col. Scott V. DeThomas
And the decision on
is --- we still don’t know.
school district staff has been working on recommendations for this year's batch of charter school applications.
These approvals are on the agenda for Tuesday’s School Board meeting:
· Village of
Campus, School II
· Lutz Preparatory Middle School; and
Virtual Academy at
There is no recommendation for
, just a note that says “Supplemental Materials Pending.”
The MacDill project has received unusual attention from both the local base commander, Col. Scott DeThomas; and Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. Both appeared before the
Bay Times editorial board in November, DeThomas saying the school is needed for military families and Elia countering that the district can meet their needs.
would run the school, serving 875 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. …Full Story
The Times reported in October that University Preparatory Academy, the new charter school in Midtown St. Petersburg, had failed to enact several key provisions of its charter.
Of note, University Prep did not have a local advisory board, which was supposed to help choose the school's principal. Cheri Shannon, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit behind University Prep, instead became the principal. Meanwhile, dozens of children were withdrawing from the school and returning to struggling Pinellas neighborhood schools.
Now, University Prep has organized its local board. Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up for Students, the nonprofit that administers school vouchers, is serving as chairman (he's also the guy behind bringing Shannon to Pinellas and, specifically, the former site of Southside Fundamental Middle).
Tuthill said the local board has met for seven hours over the past two weeks, interviewing 13 candidates by phone for the principal position. …Full Story
Seminole Middle School is expected to get a new principal next week.
Wendy Bryan, principal of Frontier Elementary, has been appointed to the position by superintendent Mike Grego. The position was open after Grego promoted Thomas Lechner to head of technology last month. District officials say the position was advertised for a week and 12 applicants applied. Five of those were interviewed.
The School Board will vote on the appointment Tuesday during its regular board meeting. Board members are expected to sign off on administrative appointments unless the appointee is unqualified. If approved, Bryan will move to the position Dec. 11.
She has been in education since 1991, working as a substitute teacher, a classroom teacher, a behavior intervention specialist, assistant principal and principal. She has spent her career in Pinellas.
Bryan earned a bachelor's degree in English education, a master's degree in special education and a certificate in education leadership, all from the University of South Florida.Full Story
Dade City community members sought to honor longtime school administrator Tom Rulison, who died in June, by dedicating and renaming the Centennial Middle School gym after him. Rulison was Centennial's first principal, serving there until his 2009 retirement.
The naming appeared clear for approval, until School Board member Cynthia Armstrong raised a question about the wording of the action item. She wanted to know why the proposal stated the dedication would be for "a period of time to be specified by the board."
Did the board have to set an expiration date for the name Thomas E. Rulison Gymnasium, Armstrong wondered. Would it be left to future boards to determine whether they want to change the name again?
She noted that district policy for namings and dedications only directed that tributes be approved by the board, and did not say anything about time frames. Without clear answers, superintendent Kurt Browning asked for more time to research the issue, saying the vote could wait. The board then voted to table the item until its Dec. 17 meeting, where it expected to convey the honor on Mr. Rulison.Full Story
Pasco school district officials had high hopes that selling ads on websites and other property could generate a steady stream of needed revenue for schools and programs.
A study committee doused that idea Tuesday, reporting to the School Board that, in the words of superintendent Kurt Browning, the juice isn't worth the squeeze.
"The district is not where it needs to be to make this viable," assistant superintendent Ray Gadd told the board.
The committee looked at the advertising efforts of districts in Florida and Arizona, and discovered that Pasco County does not have some of the assets that the others rely upon, such as a large metro area, schools with enrollments over 3,000, and major attractions in the vicinity. The other districts also dedicated six or more staff members to the work, and even so ran into roadblocks that led to declining revenue over time, said Nicole Westmoreland, a food services manager who led the study.
At its height, Orange County generated $2.27 per student before expenses, or $420,000 in that year. Pasco's collection would be less than half that amount, if all other factors were identical, which officials made clear they are not. …Full Story
TOP MARKS: Nearly all Florida teachers receive "effective" or "highly effective" ratings in their latest evaluations, raising questions about the changes to the system. More from the Ocala Star-Banner, Sun-Sentinel, Naples Daily News
HANDS OFF: A Pasco mom sees swift action as she demands that her daughter's school put an end to "slap ass Fridays."
SEARCH TEAM: The Flagler district creates an advisory panel to help guide its superintendent search, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.
PRIVATE SUPPORT: The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida launches an ambitious fund raising effort to support public schools, Florida Trend reports.
BIG HIT: The financially struggling Manatee school district could see its general fund balance shrink by $7.2 million as the result of a state audit, the Bradenton Herald reports. More from the Herald-Tribune.
QUESTIONABLE LOAN: Miami-Dade auditors investigate how a local charter school could provide public money to an unaccredited private college, the Miami Herald reports.
DECORATIONS DOWNSIDE: More than 100 students at a Volusia elementary school can't use their classrooms after a Christmas tree fire, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. …Full Story
The Florida Department of Education and the Florida Education Association have each asked the First District Court of Appeal to rehear a case concerning whether teacher value-added model ratings are public record.
The court ordered the records be released after a lawsuit by the Florida Times-Union newspaper seeking the information.
The union and the department have challenged the ruling, saying the data should be kept private. From the DOE's filing: …Full Story
Florida's evaluation model for teachers hasn't been popular since it was first implemented in the 2011/12 school year, with teachers complaining that it's unfair and potentially inaccurate.
So far, however, the results aren't that different from past years in which most educators were rated satisfactory.
For the 2012/13 school year, 97.9 percent of teachers who were evaluated statewide were in the top two categories, effective and highly effective. Less than 1 percent of teachers - or 306 - fell into the lowest category, unsatisfactory, according to initial results released Tuesday afternoon by the state Department of Education.
The latest results actually are better than the 2011/12 school year. For the 2012/13 school year, 32.3 percent of teachers statewide were in the top category, while 65.6 percent were in the second tier. The year before, 21.9 percent of classroom teachers were highly effective, while 74.6 percent were effective. …Full Story
The University of South Florida is enjoying more prestige for research gains made in the past year.
The university moved up to number 43 for research spending in the federal government's rankings of public and private colleges nationwide. That's a boost of 10 spots from last year, aided by the university’s new research spending record of $413.6 million. Out of all public institutions, USF came in 27th in total research expenditures, up from 33rd place last year.
USF has been successful in securing private research grants and contracts in an era when public funding for higher education has dwindled, and a year when the country has experienced both federal sequestration and a government shutdown. Private and corporate-funded grants and contracts now make up about 45 percent of USF’s research totals, officials said. …Full Story
Just a friendly reminder that the Ties and Tennis Shoes 5K is scheduled for Saturday at Tropicana Field.
The annual race raises money for the Take Stock in Children scholarship program. The event is organized by the Pinellas Education Foundation and is preceded by a gala, also at the Trop. The finish line for the 5K is on the turf of the Trop, with finisher photos on Ray Vision. The event includes a 5K, a one-mile fun run and a kids dash.
Registration is available online now and also on the morning of the event. It's $25 to run the 5K.
Pinellas County school superintendent Mike Grego has organized a team for the event among school employees. Full Story
The percentage of high school graduates who are ready for college when they get there is increasing statewide, and in most Tampa Bay counties, according to data released by the state Department of Education.
Hillsborough showed the best results, with 72.5 percent ready for college in 2012, up from 70.7 percent in 2011.
Statewide, the percentage rose to 66.4 percent from 64.7 percent. Increases were reported in Hernando County, to 63.7 from 63.2; and in Pasco, to 68.1 from 66.7. College readiness decrease in Pinellas County, where 70.1 percent were ready in 2012, down from 70.9 percent in 2011.
These numbers are based on Common Placement Tests that are administered to students who attend college in Florida.
“This is great news in a district that is focused on college and career readiness,’’ said Hillsborough School Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. “For a high school diploma to be meaningful, you should be able to get into college and be ready to do college-level work. More and more of our students are achieving that goal.”
The tests measure reading, writing and math abilities. They do not include those who attend private or out-of-state colleges.Full Story
For the first time, states had the option to break out of the national PISA score report for individual results. Florida was one of three states to pay the $600,000 to participate.
The results show Florida high schoolers lagging behind their peers internationally and within the United States in math, reading and science as measured on this international test. A sampling of about 2,000 Florida students took the exams.
Among the outcomes:
• 30 percent of Florida students scored Level 2 or lower in math, while 6 percent scored Level 5 or above. That compares similarly to the results of Croatia (30 percent at the low end, 7 percent at the high end). Among all nations tested, 23 percent of students scored Level 2 or lower, and 13 percent at Level 5 or higher.
• 21 percent of Florida students scored Level 2 or lower in science, while 5 percent scored Level 5 or higher. That compares similarly to Sweden (22 percent and 6 percent), and lower than the overall outcomes (18 percent and 8 percent). …Full Story
RARE BREED: Palm Harbor University High senior Aadith Moorthy aims for perfection in school and just about always finds it.
RULE REVISION: The Hillsborough School Board begins rewriting its athletics transfer policy.
ANOTHER GO: Hernando School Board member Dianne Bonfield will seek reelection.
BELOW AVERAGE: Florida high school students score below their peers internationally in the PISA test of math, science and reading, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. More on the background of PISA from State Impact Florida.
MORE TOLERANCE: Broward schools join a growing number of large districts changing their discipline policies away from zero-tolerance, the NY Times reports.
NOT READY: Miami-Dade officials say they're unprepared to implement new tests aimed at evaluating teacher performance, NBC-Miami reports. • The Florida Department of Education releases combined teacher evaluation scores on Tuesday, the Bradenton Herald reports.
EARLY EDUCATION: Florida's voluntary prekindergarten program faces growing class sizes as funding remains static, WFTV reports. …Full Story
Gov. Rick Scott, who pressed lawmakers to fund raises for all teachers this year, is again urging school districts to come through with the contract deals to make the raises reality.
Scott, facing a potentially tough reelection bid, sent a letter to superintendents Monday offering assistance to any district that is struggling to complete negotiations on the added pay, with the end of the first semester near. Hernando teachers and district officials remain at odds over the money, along with 24 other districts that don't have agreements finished or awaiting a vote.
"We understand the local negotiation process that every district must go through in order to finalize teacher pay raise amounts, but we urge any district that has not yet reached a final agreement to contact Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart so we can offer any assistance possible to expedite this district-level process, Scott wrote. He continued: …Full Story