Florida education news: #HB7069, 'Robin Hood' funding, the search for teachers and more
WHAT NEXT? Every year, new state laws hit the books that have to be implemented once they take effect. But House Bill 7069 isn’t your average new law. The sweeping, 274-page, $419 million measure that reforms Florida’s public K-12 schools spans dozens of changes in statute — some of which are complex and take effect at different times over the course of the next few years. So, what goes into implementing something like that? The Florida Department of Education doesn’t want to answer questions about it and hasn’t offered much detail publicly three weeks after HB 7069 became law on July 1, the Herald/Times Bureau reports.
'ROBIN HOOD' The Lake, Osceola and Seminole school districts have lost out on a total of $133 million in state funding to wealthier districts in the past 13 years. The reshuffling of money is part of Florida’s education finance system — and some officials are sick of it. “This is backwards Robin Hood — you’re robbing from the average and the poor to give to the wealthy,” said Volusia County School Board member Melody Johnson, whose district is losing $10 million for the upcoming school year. “I call it theft, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
SEARCH: South Florida schools are looking far and near for new teachers, from the Hawaiian islands to employees on their own campuses. More teachers nationwide are fleeing the profession and fewer are choosing to join it. So the region’s school districts have decided it’s no longer enough to recruit at job fairs in Florida and the Northeast. Instead, they are going to California, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and other places around the United States trying to persuade teachers to come here, the Sun Sentinel reports.
INVESTIGATION: A Golden Gate High School teacher will resume his teaching position after being escorted off the school’s campus in May for allegedly engaging in sexual activity with a student, according to Collier County Public Schools. The decision to reinstate the teacher comes after a 21-day investigation by the school district, which found no evidence to prove a student’s statements that she had engaged in sexual activity with the teacher. But according to Collier County Sheriff’s Office reports, at least one deputy thinks Golden Gate principal Tobin Walcott compromised the investigation, the Naples Daily News reports.
BATTLES: Palm Beach County’s public school leaders have not shied away from battling charter schools in court. They also have not had much success. Yet despite a string of defeats in their taxpayer-financed tussles, the county school board is poised to dive into another one. This time, their sights are set squarely on state lawmakers, the Palm Beach Post reports.
BUDGET: The Volusia County school district anticipates operating off an $869.8 million budget in the upcoming fiscal year — up 2.1 percent from the past year’s $852 million budget — but district officials won’t be able to keep classes running without pulling close to $2 million from reserves. It’s not an ideal way for the district to finance its way through the school year, particularly after having put its financial house in order last year, but Volusia School Board Chairwoman Melody Johnson holds optimism that the district won’t have to make a habit out of dipping into its savings, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.
ACTIVISM: Before the end of last year, politics was one of the last things on Aida Reyes’ mind. A psychologist with Miami-Dade Schools for more than 30 years, she had quietly retired to private practice. But the 2016 election and the protests that followed changed her mind about getting involved, especially when it came to the profession she’d pursued for decades. On Saturday, she and her sister-in-law Marylin Reyes helped organize a downtown Miami rally in support of public education, part of a nationwide protest organized in part by the group behind the Women’s March, the Miami Herald reports.