Thursday, June 21, 2018

Pinellas County Schools agree to keep up fight against HB 7069 with $15,000

LARGO — The first courtroom decision didn't go the way Pinellas County Schools wanted, so the district decided on Tuesday to spend $15,000 more on the fight against the legislation its leaders see as a drain on local school control.

With little discussion, they decided the expense — on top of the $25,000 already spent — is worth it to hang in the battle against House Bill 7069, which created an expansive, expensive charter school system outside of district control.

"What's really the likelihood that it's going to be successful?" board member Joanne Lentino asked School Board attorney David Koperski, who said that, while he can't guarantee anything, he still believes that the charter school portion of the law is unconstitutional.

And he said the districts who are pushing back are looking not only to the appellate court level, but toward the Florida Supreme Court if necessary.
Board member Terry Krassner moved to approve the extra expense, and members followed suit. No one voted against it.

The sprawling legislation diverted tax revenue from the districts without school board approval and enshrined the controversial Schools of Hope charter school system. It altered the approach to improving low-performing schools, in some cases stripping operations from the districts.

Pinellas, along with a dozen other school districts, sued the State Board of Education and the Florida Department of Education, arguing that the Legislature's move violated the Florida Constitution, which gives districts the power to create and run schools within their boundaries.

That argument didn't sway a Leon County judge, who last month threw out the districts' challenge — much to the delight of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, the law's main proponent. He said the districts should stop fighting and keep the money in the classroom, not on "wasteful, foolish challenges" in court.

Judge John Cooper didn't elaborate about his decision, but emphasized that laws created by the Legislature are presumed to be constitutional.

Chairwoman Rene Flowers said that, as the appeal advances, she hopes the districts will have deeper conversations with the justices about their concerns with the bill.

"They may see our points, that placing items within a district that certainly are unfunded causes a huge disparity issue and a concern," she said.

She continued: "Logrolling, or placing multiple bills or items in one bill, is not appropriate."

Despite Cooper's rejection of the districts' argument, Flowers said she was gratified to hear that he found issues and concerns with some of the language in the bill.

"That's the door," she said. "That's a glimmer of hope."

She said she doesn't anticipate that the district will end up spending all $15,000.

Of the 13 districts that initially pushed back against the legislation, about nine or 10 will continue on with the appeal, Koperski said. Clay and Wakulla counties, both tiny, have dropped out. So has the much larger Duval County.

In recommending that the Pinellas board stay in the fight, superintendent Mike Grego wrote that the new law "amounts to legislative intrusion upon the constitutional authority and responsibilities of local school boards."

Comments
Pasco County report cards going virtual

Pasco County report cards going virtual

Pasco County parents should not check the mailbox for their children's report cards this summer.The grades are coming online only.After months of planning, the district will release fourth-quarter report cards in the online MyStudent grading system, ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Pasco school district rebuts family’s Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit

Pasco school district rebuts family’s Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit

Lawyers for the Pasco County school district say the principal of Wiregrass Elementary School and a first grade teacher there did nothing wrong in their treatment of a student who took a knee while his classmates recited the Pledge of Allegiance last...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Florida education news: Superintendents, test scores, school safety and more

Florida education news: Superintendents, test scores, school safety and more

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: The Hernando County School Board quickly moves ahead in seeking a new district leader after dumping Lori Romano.BUDGET GAP: Pasco County school district leaders anticipate a budget shortfall as they work to meet new state ...
Published: 06/21/18
Florida education news: New candidates, school security and a suspended PTSA

Florida education news: New candidates, school security and a suspended PTSA

ELECTIONS: A former county official joins the race for a seat on Hernando County School Board, the Tampa Bay Times reports. • In Hillsborough County, one candidate for School Board changes parties and another changes races, the Tampa Bay Times ...
Published: 06/19/18
Former Hernando County official Diane Rowden joins race for School Board

Former Hernando County official Diane Rowden joins race for School Board

Longtime Hernando County resident and former official Diane Rowden threw her hat in the ring for the District 3 seat of the School Board Monday."I just feel like my job is not over with," Rowden, 68, told the Tampa Bay Times ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18
One school board candidate changes parties, another changes races

One school board candidate changes parties, another changes races

Updating Sunday's report on the Hillsborough County School Board races:Scott Hottenstein, one of six candidates for the at-large seat that will be vacated by April Griffin, informs us that he is now a Democrat.After years as a Republican, Hottenstein...
Published: 06/18/18
Florida education news: testing, safety and a gubernatorial candidate’s take on education

Florida education news: testing, safety and a gubernatorial candidate’s take on education

SAFE SCHOOLS: Miami-Dade School District asks local police departments to help put a cop on every campus, WLRN reports.TESTING: Four of Marion County’s worst-performing schools make gains on state tests, the Star-Banner reports. • Duval C...
Published: 06/18/18
Hillsborough test results point to continued struggles in reading

Hillsborough test results point to continued struggles in reading

It's not yet clear if this year's Florida Standard Assessment results will free seven Hillsborough County schools up from outside management, as Superintendent Jeff Eakins had hoped.Things improved at Potter and Booker T. Washington Elementary S...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
School test scores are up all around the state

School test scores are up all around the state

Gov. Rick Scott is doing a victory lap and touting the level of state education funding, with standardized test scores inching up around the state.The numbers released Thursday show a one-point gain in English proficiency rates on the Florida Standar...
Published: 06/14/18
Florida education news: Superintendents fired and hired, election drama and a rally for unions

Florida education news: Superintendents fired and hired, election drama and a rally for unions

OUSTED: Hernando County School Board votes 3-2 to fire Superintendent Lori Romano, the Tampa Bay Times reports.LAWSUITS: A lawyer, apparently representing Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano, threatens legal action against two School B...
Published: 06/13/18