Education commissioner Pam Stewart has repeated the Governor's Office contention that her department may release $60 million in classroom technology funding despite the governor's veto of a study lawmakers had attached to the money.
The governor's staff argued the veto simply deleted the connection between the analysis and the money. Stewart took the same position:
"In sum, section 7 of the implementing bill that amended s. 1011.62(12)(g) F.S., to require the Department to contract with a third-party entity to conduct an assessment of digital readiness, implemented the proviso language attached to Specific Appropriation 130 that was vetoed. Therefore, the portions of the implementing bill pertaining to this vetoed appropriation and proviso language are void. All of the remaining requirements that are not dependent on the independent digital readiness assessment remain in effect."
The Land O'Lakes High School unified soccer team, representing the USA, defeated China 2-1 on Friday to claim the bronze medal at the World Special Olympics in Los Angeles. Needless to say, the players were excited.
Andy Dunn, the district's videographer, was there.
Pasco school district officials an evaluation system in which fewer teachers attain a "highly effective" rating. United School Employees of Pasco leaders aim to keep that score open to as many teachers as possible.
They expect to land somewhere in between.
Early in the week, the union took a step toward the district's position, acknowledging a teacher should have at least one "innovating" mark on an evaluation to be considered "highly effective." On Thursday, district negotiators edged slightly closer to the union view, cutting their proposal for the percentage of "innovating" elements to 40 percent (down from 60 percent) in 2015-16, and 50 percent the following year.
The district did not move from its call that student performance count as 35 percent of the overall evaluation, instead of 50 percent as in past years. The USEP had asked the district to see which level benefits most teachers before making that determination.
Before Thursday's session, the USEP issued a memo to members explaining its position. …
Among the many criticisms comes one that the offer of up to $10,000 provides a phony opportunity for educators who want to retake the gatekeeper SAT or ACT exams in order to qualify.
The state says "Teachers rated highly effective may retake the ACT or SAT in order to earn the scholarship; however, the requisite documentation that they have met the current 80th percentile ranking must be submitted to the district by the October 1 deadline."
Bob Schaeffer of FairTest is among many to point out that the next SAT testing date is Oct. 3 -- too late -- while the next ACT exam poses problems even though it comes Sept. 12. The ACT website advises that while scores are generally available online within two weeks after the test date (just under the wire), score reports are normally released three to eight weeks after the test. …
The Hernando County school district has plucked its new communications and public information director from neighboring Citrus County schools.
Karen Jordan, a program specialist for the Citrus district, is set to take over the public speaking function for Hernando the week after next. She replaces Eric Williams, who was promoted to deputy superintendent.
Williams moved to his new post earlier this summer. Patrick Keough has filled in as spokesman but is expected to hand back that role after Jordan's arrival.
The Pasco school district's non-instruction employee bargaining team did not conclude contract negotiations Wednesday, as hoped, during a daylong bargaining session.
United School Employees of Pasco lead negotiator Jim Ciadella said he felt positive about the talks, and that the sides were close enough to agreement to plan another meeting for Monday.
"Given another session or two, we can settle the contract," Ciadella said.
District employee relations director Betsy Kuhn agreed, calling Wednesday's session "very productive."
The primary sticking point for the group remained economic. The union counted the district's offer of 3 percent average raises by asking for a minimum of 3 percent for all the workers. That means employees scheduled to see more would still get the larger increases, while those who might get less would receive at least 3 percent.
All said, the union asked for 3.48 percent in added pay.
"We realize the budget is what it is," Ciadella said. "We hope the district can do a little bit better." …
"They just worked out the details over the weekend," Cobbe said before the Tuesday session.
The item now appears on the board's Aug. 4 agenda. If approved, the contract calls for the buyer to build commercially on part of the land, most likely a gas station, after receiving needed city permits.
It also provides for the buyer to donate nearly 10 acres to the city for continued use as a public park. That property would revert back to the district if the donation does not go through within two years.
The future of the property, known as the Hercules site, has been in doubt since 2011, when the county goverment closed its swimming pool in the park. The district has discussed options since 2013.
That is the question Pinellas County teachers face this summer.
District officials sent faculty a memo this week telling them that, for the first time, teachers on continuing or professional services contracts have the option to move to a performance pay schedule. They could see much larger raises if they have strong performance evaluations, thanks to state law.
On the downside, they also would lose contract protections: The change also requires acceptance of an annual contract.
Other districts took this step last year, with limited interest. Pasco schools, for example, had only about two dozen teachers make the move. Possibly likely candidates are veteran teachers with consistently good evaluations who are nearing retirement and face limited pay hikes in the old model.
Pinellas teachers have until Sept. 30 to tell the district if they want to switch contracts. The pay schedules to make a salary comparison are not available, the memo states, because negotiations remain under way.
As school districts and teacher unions across Florida negotiate contracts this summer, consider this Key and Peele piece on Comedy Central. They host Teaching Center, a la ESPN's Sports Center complete with sponsors, highlighting teacher trades, plays of the day and even the draft, in which the school with the lowest test scores gets first pick of top newcomers.
"Just like that you're a millionaire," effuses host Jordan Peele, as he views the top choice teacher. "Mike Yoast is an incredible story. His father, living from paycheck to paycheck as a humble pro football player. Kid was a natural mathlete."
"You know who's gonna buy his mom a home!" partner Keegan-Michael Key chimes in.
"Because of where we are with the opening of the 2015-16 school year, I have directed staff to take school choice applications but they will not be acted upon until after the 20 day count," superintendent Kurt Browning told the School Board on Tuesday.
He noted that only one student had been transferred to Garden Montessori in the district's computer systems. All the rest remained attached to their zoned schools.
Some parents called the district asking to get a transfer from one campus to another for their children. But most were to schools already over capacity, Browning said.
"That ain't gonna happen," Browning said. "We cannot continue to put more students into schools that are already full, still meet class size and provide the education that we need to provide."
He also rejected the complaints some parents raised about Quail Hollow Elementary, to which some were assigned, noting that the school is reopening in new buildings with new staff after being closed two years. …
Gradebook features education articles and insights on schools in Florida, focusing on Tampa Bay area schools. What's the latest from the Florida Department of Education? How is the FCAT being used to compare Florida schools? What's going on in Tampa Bay schools? Get an insider's view from the Times education reporting team.