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

Graduates for the Middleton High School class of 2017 gather at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa during commencement exercises.  [Friday, May 27, 2017] LUIS SANTANA | Times
Graduates for the Middleton High School class of 2017 gather at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa during commencement exercises. [Friday, May 27, 2017] LUIS SANTANA | Times
Published January 11

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.