Thursday, September 20, 2018

Florida education news: Graduation rates, capital funding, open meetings and more

GRADUATION RATES: Florida's high school graduation rate continues to climb, to a new high of 82.3 percent in 2017. For the first time, all four Tampa Bay area districts also surpass the 80 percent mark, with several schools making large gains. More from Orlando Sentinel, Florida Times-Union, TC Palm, Palm Beach Post 

CAPITAL FUNDS: Florida's charter schools receive a combined $91.2 million from local school district capital projects tax revenue, as a result of new law implemented through HB 7069. Several districts have sued over the mandated fund transfer.

SUNSHINE LAW: A circuit court judge rules the Pasco County school district's 2016-17 school boundaries advisory committee for west-side schools conducted its business improperly, and voids the resulting maps.

TEACHER SHORTAGE: Hillsborough County schools find gaps in their substitute teacher hiring process, which has allowed some questionable people into the classrooms. • The nation's 15 largest school districts, of which about half are in Florida including Hillsborough, have a teacher vacancy rate of around 1 percent, meaning thousands of students stand to suffer, Chalkbeat reports.

VINDICATED: Cleared of child abuse allegations, a Hillsborough County school principal and his wife, also an educator, are given their jobs back.

COLLEGE COSTS: Florida state senators are poised to approve legislation that would expand the Bright Futures scholarship program.

NEW HORIZONS: Pasco County School Board member Steve Luikart imposes his own term limits, announcing he will not seek a third term.

LABOR NEWS: Teacher union leaders raise concerns about a bill they say could kill union activity in Florida, WJHG reports. • More than 400 Sarasota County teachers and other school employees picket for raises outside district offices, a first such protest in nearly 30 years, the Herald-Tribune reports.

SUPERINTENDENTS: Brevard County superintendent Desmond Blackburn stands to receive a raise as teachers continue to battle over pay in contract talks, Florida Today reports.

VALS AND SALS: The Duval County school district considers changes to the way it ranks its high school graduates, the Florida Times-Union reports.

BUDGETING: Gulf County school district officials worry about the impact the 2018 legislative session will have on their budget for the coming year, the Port St. Joe Star reports.

SAVE OUR SCHOOL: Some community leaders join the NAACP in advocating to keep open a struggling Marion County elementary school, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

MAKEUP DAYS: Collier County schools remind students that classes will occur on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, to make up for time missed during Hurricane Irma. Excused absences will be granted in some cases, the Naples Daily News reports.

HIRING CONCERNS: The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs looks into a complaint that the Sarasota school district failed to interview a veteran for its communication director job, the Herald-Tribune reports.

FRIENDLY SKIES: Students at a Volusia County high school get ready to fly the airplane they've been building in class, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

CONSTRUCTION COSTS: Seminole County increases its education impact fee, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

BAD ACTS: A Citrus County teacher is arrested for selling marijuana out of her home, Scripps reports.

TODAY IN TALLAHASSEE: The full Senate is set to act on two priority education bills when it convenes at 3:30 p.m.

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Red Tide forces two Pinellas schools to move recess, physical education inside

Red Tide forces two Pinellas schools to move recess, physical education inside

Recess and physical education classes at two south Pinellas County schools were moved inside this week due to Red Tide, a toxic algae that continues to plague area beaches with throngs of dead fish and an unmistakable foul odor.Pr...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Pasco School Board candidate says charter school campaign contribution doesn’t define her

Pasco School Board candidate says charter school campaign contribution doesn’t define her

Early in the election cycle, Pasco County School Board candidate Tara O'Connor received criticism over her long list of supporters who are elected officials.Now, O'Connor is taking hits for accepting a $1,000 campaign contribution from Charter School...
Published: 09/19/18
Pasco board member presses colleagues, staff to set priorities

Pasco board member presses colleagues, staff to set priorities

As several teachers urged the Pasco School Board to improve their wages, one board member hammered home his view that the district has not followed through on raises despite setting that priority three straight years.Steve Luikart, who retires i...
Published: 09/19/18
Florida education news: Policy proposals, achievement gap, tax plans and more

Florida education news: Policy proposals, achievement gap, tax plans and more

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Republican candidate for governor Ron DeSantis unveils his education plan for Florida, as Democrat Andrew Gillum highlights his proposals. Their positions could not be more starkly different, except for the area of career educati...
Published: 09/19/18
In town hall, Eakins takes school district's story to Ballast Point

In town hall, Eakins takes school district's story to Ballast Point

  TAMPA — First, the disclaimer: "I'm not here to tell you how to vote," Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins told his audience. "I'm here to educate you about why we're here." From there, in his Tuesday evening prese...
Published: 09/18/18
Updated: 09/19/18
Report: Pinellas improves on achievement gap, but needs to do better

Report: Pinellas improves on achievement gap, but needs to do better

School for black students in Pinellas County is getting better, according to a report detailing the school district's progress a year into its effort to close the educational achievement gap by 2027.Of the six measures included in...
Published: 09/18/18
Struggling Plato Academy Pinellas Park vows to boost school culture, attendance

Struggling Plato Academy Pinellas Park vows to boost school culture, attendance

After their school earned a D grade for its first year in operation, educators from Plato Academy Pinellas Park presented an improvement plan to Pinellas County school officials on Tuesday, pointing to plans to improve&#...
Published: 09/18/18
Pasco schools budget faces showdown over salaries

Pasco schools budget faces showdown over salaries

For the past several months, Pasco County school employees have agitated for pay raises this year.School Board members said they'd look for ways to direct more money into salaries, but so far haven't found much. The current proposal contemplates abou...
Published: 09/18/18
Pasco School Board to lay groundwork for new schools

Pasco School Board to lay groundwork for new schools

With enrollment growth continuing and school crowding yet unresolved, the Pasco County School Board is taking steps to add three promised new schools to its inventory.The School Board is poised to approve a 5-year work plan that includes a new middle...
Published: 09/18/18
Florida education news: Oversight, choice, growth and more

Florida education news: Oversight, choice, growth and more

OVERSIGHT: To help convince voters to support its cause, the Hillsborough County school district announces well-respected Betty Castor will head a committee to review spending of revenue from a requested sales tax increase. The money would be de...
Published: 09/18/18