At the same time Gov. Rick Scott prepared to sign Florida's 2014 budget, he delivered to school district superintendents some details on how to implement one of his top priorities in the budget -- raises for teachers.
In a lengthy Q&A document, the governor laid out that the raises are indeed salary increases and not one-time bonuses. The money must be used for raises and not other purposes, according to the guidelines, and the pay hikes "may" be based on performance.
School districts must send the state their plans for how they intend to allocate the funds, with the money to follow soon after -- as early as July if the district plan is submitted.
Read on for the full Q&A. …Full Story
Kelly King is the new principal of Steinbrenner High School.
The Hillsborough County School Board appointed King, now assistant principal for curriculum at Steinbrenner, to replace Brenda Grasso. Grasso was promoted recently to area director.
King joined the school district in 2001.Full Story
Officer Dan Carvin, a long-time school resource officer at Tyrone Middle School, will be honored by the Pinellas County School Board tonight for his dedication and service.
Carvin, who is a St. Petersburg police officer, has served at Tyrone Middle for 18 years. He has been selected as the district's School Resource Office of the Year. The School Board will celebrate his accomplishments during its 5:30 p.m. meeting at the district offices, 301 4th St, Largo.
Carvin was praised for his "persistence in counseling both students and parents" and his "relentless commitment to turn students around."Full Story
Gradebook received this request from the media director at Sligh Middle Magnet School, a long-struggling school in a lower-income neighborhood in north Tampa.Full Story
The director, Joshua Newhouse, is trying to raise funds through a website to enhance the book collection at his school. They hope to raise $3,000 by May 30 and have made little progress so far.
"Our students are so hungry for good books, and thirsty for knowledge that it is very frustrating that too often we do not always have the books they want, whether it is poetry, popular biographies, urban realistic fiction, animal books, graphic novels and manga, and especially frustrating given our student body, books by strong African-American authors and featuring strong African-American characters. Many of our students' homes do not contain many or any books and there is no local neighborhood library or bookstore for them to be able to easily get to. The school media center needs to be a haven for them to find books to connect with, to improve their achievement, and to create life-long readers."
They are working with an organization called Follett Library Resources. Donations are tax-deductible.
You'll find more information here.
Word spread quickly last week that Zephyrhills High School principal Andy Frelick planned to cut Spanish classes and offer French instead. Spanish would be available only as an online course.
People were not happy.
An online petition sprang up, quickly netting more than 250 e-signatures. And superintendent Kurt Browning started getting several emails. They were unanimous in their opposition to the idea.
"I'm going into high school next year, and in order to get into a good college/graduate you have to take two consecutive years of a foreign language," student Brendan Brill wrote. "In Florida, Spanish is a popular language and I'm not gonna have any use really for French. So I would take Spanish, but I wouldn't do it online because I wouldn't learn anything. I'd most likely end up getting lazy and just google translating all of it." …Full Story
PROM TIME: A River Ridge High School junior's prom experience ends in acrimony and upset, a far cry from the fun time she had hoped for.
IN THE RUNNING: A former Hernando Education Foundation director will seek a seat on the county School Board.
VETOES: Gov. Rick Scott strikes several education items from the 2014 budget. His actions show a lack of long-term vision, the Times editorializes. More on education-related vetoes from the Naples Daily News, Florida Times-Union, Ocala Star-Banner, Panama City News Herald, State Impact Florida.
BUDGET CUTTING: Manatee officials plan to lay off 282 employees, implement and spending and hiring freeze, and take other steps to balance their budget, the Bradenton Herald reports. More from the Herald-Tribune. • The Broward district looks into privatizing construction services, the Miami Herald reports. • Volusia leaders explore outsourcing groundskeeping, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.
RISING COSTS: Florida school districts will have to absorb the cost of dual enrollment courses previously paid for by state colleges, the Sun-Sentinel reports. …Full Story
After promising to improve its merit pay plan for teachers, the Pinellas County School District is poised to roll out a pilot plan at seven schools. The plan could solve one of the biggest complaints about merit pay - that many teachers were evaluated based on students they never taught.
Under the proposal, teachers would be evaluated based on student growth and instructional practice, both worth 50 percent. Student growth will be based on the FCAT for teachers with FCAT-tested subjects and on unit assessment scores for teachers who don't have applicable state tests. Instructional practice will include three components - professional evaluations, "deliberate practice," and "planning, reflecting and professionalism."
Deliberate practice will be based on observation of an early and then a later unit. Planning, reflecting and professionalism will be based on elements of the Marzano evaluation.
For teachers who have both FCAT and non-FCAT subjects, there will be a weight assigned based on the number of classes. In the first year, teachers also can choose between the state VAM score and their calculated student growth score, if one is better than the other. …Full Story
Plans to create a STEM magnet program in Pasco schools took a setback Monday when Gov. Rick Scott took his veto pen to the proposed 2014 state budget.
Scott killed $368 million in spending projects, including $1.5 million that Sen. John Legg had placed in the spending plan to create the Pasco program. District officials were optimistic after the Florida Tax Watch didn't include the amount in its annual "turkey" list, but they remained wary nonetheless.
Superintendent Kurt Browning, a former member of Scott's administration, expressed his disappointment with the governor's decision.
"We remain convinced that a science, technology, engineering, and math magnet academy is needed in Pasco County Public Schools, and we plan to continue our pursuit of a viable source of funding to get it started," Browning said in a released statement.
He also thanked Legg, House speaker Will Weatherford and others in the Pasco legislative delegation for supporting the effort. Legg, who said in a message that he was unhappy with the veto, has said in the past that the STEM initiative is one of his priorities to get funded while in the Senate.Full Story
St. Petersburg College is holding a job fair next Thursday to hire more adjunct professors — day, evening, online — academic and technical disciplines — positions filled as early as this fall. How exactly did SPC find itself in the market for part-time professors?
This is phase II of an ugly little snafu.
In March, SPC's adjuncts got an email that their hours were being cut (and in some cases, halved) because the college could not afford to give them healthcare, as required by the Affordable Care Act if they worked for 30 hours or more a week.
Bill Law, the president of SPC, told The Gradebook that he planned to hire more adjunct professors. Basically, there'd be more people with fewer hours producing the same amount of classes for students.
Of course, SPC's existing adjuncts were not happy about seeing their hours and paychecks slashed. "It's just a really ugly choice," Law said. "It's one of the worst choices I've had to face in my time as president." Law put the cost of healthcare for each additional employee at $8,000. …Full Story
In many schools around the country, once the state testing period ends, teachers and students slow down their pace and relax. The homework often ends, and the curriculum — having already been tested — segues into a combination of review and a look ahead to the next year's expectations.
In some places, though, testing continues. Not to evaluate student abilities or teacher performance, but to fine-tune the questions for future exams. Test experts say it's an important part of the process, to avoid misleading, poorly written or just plain dumb items that shouldn't be on high-stakes tests.
In New York City, a growing number of parents are protesting the use of their children as test guinea pigs, and they're getting support from some high profile politicians, the NY Times reports. Parents are boycotting the testing days, and some principals are just sending back the tests unopened.
“We’re seeing the early glimmers of a bigger fight,” Frederick M. Hess, an education scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told the NY Times. “The real question is if states can keep those concerns isolated.” …Full Story
VETO PEN: Gov. Rick Scott is set to sign the FY 2014 budget, but veto a 3 percent tuition rate increase within it.
FEW OPTIONS: Parents of children with severe disabilities have limited school choices when the centers their children attend are rated F, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
TEACHER APPRECIATION: Some Manatee parents plan to rally outside a School Board budget workshop to show their support of teachers facing layoffs, the Bradenton Herald reports.
EARLY EDUCATION: Duval schools plan to add more prekindergarten classes, the Florida Times-Union reports.
BUS SAFETY: Palm Beach officials look for ways to protect children after a string of school bus accidents, the Palm Beach Post reports.
TEACHER TRAINING: Experts take a closer look at schools of education at UCF and other colleges to evaluate their value, the Hechinger Report reports.
LOVE OF ART: A Sarasota principal helps two county elementary schools develop strong dance and drama programs, the Herald-Tribune reports.
REOPENING: A coalition makes plans to open 16 of 24 Duval Head Start sites that were shut down on Friday, the Florida Times-Union reports.Full Story
As Gov. Rick Scott signs a $74.5 billion budget before leaving for a trade mission to Chile Monday, his rejection of a 3-percent tuition increase for state colleges and universities was expected. He has criticized the idea for months, calling it a "tax" on middle-class families.
Scott's veto message says Florida should be proud that its tuition is lower than most states and that students should be able to earn degrees and find jobs without being saddled with "massive debt."
The veto could draw a legal challenge from the Legislature. Tuition is technically not a line item subject to a veto, but is wedged into the budget as proviso language tied to an appropriation that Scott will not veto. Former Gov. Charlie Crist took similar action in 2007, and lawmakers didn't challenge it in court.
Seeking to build a case for a veto, Scott's office asked state university presidents to sign a letter saying they do not want more tuition revenue this year. University leaders collectively decided not to sign the letter, and balked at getting in the middle of a fight between Scott and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who led the charge for a tuition hike. …Full Story
Over recent months, the Pasco County school district has seen its share of bullying incidents. One case that's a few years old led the School Board to adopt an agreement with the federal government to dramatically improve its policies on harassment and discrimination.
Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning says in a column for the Tampa Bay Times that the schools and the community must combat the problem of bullying head on. It will take extra education, training and vigilance on everyone's part, he writes:
"Our desire is to put an end to bullying and harassment in our public schools. The education community cannot do this without the support and involvement of the greater Pasco County community. We must stand together to have any chance of eradicating bullying, harassment and violent behaviors. I promise that we will do our part to create civil and respectful school cultures where bullying is not tolerated and I hope I can count on all of you to do your part."
Read more here.Full Story
FOR THE KIDS? The president of the Seven Springs Elementary PTA is arrested on charges she embezzled thousands of dollars from the group.
MAKING PROGRESS: A Hernando K-8 school holds a literacy cafe for parents to see how their kindergartners have improved in writing through the year.
SCHOOL CLOSING: Manatee will close Central High School, which serves over-age students, as a cost-saving move, the Bradenton Herald reports.
MAKING ROOM: A search for school zone boundary jumpers could open seats for students to get back into their Palm Beach school, the Palm Beach Post reports.
FINANCIAL CONTROLS: The Polk School Board increases the frequency for auditing schools, the Ledger reports.
SO CLOSE: Students from a Monroe high school almost tag a great white shark on a shark tagging field trip, the Keynoter reports.
CLASS SIZE: The Manatee superintendent's claim that the district had very small class sizes as a result of overhiring aren't borne out on closer scrutiny, Herald-Tribune columnist Tom Lyons writes.
CHOICES: Florida's new high school graduation law gives students diploma options, the St. Augustine Record reports.Full Story
JUST SAY NO: Gov. Rick Scott asks Florida's university presidents for their support in his opposition to increased tuition rates.
TENACITY: A Dixie Hollins High senior struggles to make it to graduation before cancer claims her.
BELIEVE, ACHIEVE: A Tampa middle school teaches its low performing readers more about commitment and other things to help them focus on success.
SUE YOU: A woman who was rejected for a provost job at St. Petersburg College sues the school and its president for discrimination.
JOINING FORCES: The Pasco County Council of PTAs revives after years of inactivity.
COSTLY OPTIONS: Florida school districts are considering whether to pay the increased cost of dual enrollment or to scale back advanced high school course offerings, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.
TEACHER DISCIPLINE: A dismissed Clay teacher denies accusations of child abuse against a student, whom he is accused of putting into a choke hold, the Florida Times-Union reports. • A Marion teacher is suspended over allegations that he touched a student on the head with a banana, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. …Full Story