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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Sept. 20



Money matters dominated the past week for Hillsborough County schools, as leaders continued to unveil more deficit spending -- including in the district's once-vaunted Gates Foundation grant. Superintendents from across Florida gathered in Tampa to talk testing, testing, testing. And high school start times resurfaced as a conversation piece in Orange and Pasco counties. Read on for a recap of the week's top Florida education news and views. Visit the Gradebook daily for regular updates. And feel free to share your ideas and opinions via email to

Top of the Times

Gates partnership leaves Hillsborough schools shouldering millions more than expected, Marlene Sokol
"A seven-year effort to put better teachers in Hillsborough County schools is costing the system millions of dollars more than officials projected. And the district's partner in the project, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is spending $20 million less than expected."
Hillsborough schools superintendent seeks to hire auditor to control spending, Marlene Sokol
Editorial: No more excuses for Hillsborough schools

Superintendents: We have lost confidence in Florida's school accountability system, Jeffrey S, Solochek
"In a stinging statement issued today, Florida's school superintendents say they have "lost confidence" in the state's education accountability system and are calling for an extensive review of the many changes that lawmakers and state officials have made in recent years."
Read the FADSS statement here.
For Florida superintendents, patience wears thin on school testing problems, Jeffrey S. Solochek

Longer days at Wiregrass Ranch High have relieved congestion, lessened stress, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"Rumbling school bus motors interrupt the relative calm of Wiregrass Ranch High School at 10 a.m. each weekday, unloading nearly 600 freshmen to begin their classes. • The ninth-graders head to the cafeteria for 15 minutes, waiting for the fourth-period bell to ring. That's their signal to head to their classrooms, as about the same number of upperclassmen stream in for lunch. This ebb and flow of teens through the lunchroom is the most visible - and perhaps the most important - aspect of Wiregrass Ranch's 10-period day."

Pinellas to examine lax response to death threat at Tarpon Springs High, Colleen Wright
"The group will review the events that transpired after a man, according to police reports, called the school office saying he planned to come and kill principal James Joyer. According to police and district accounts, Joyer quickly stopped a school resource officer's efforts to trace the man's call."

Around the State

Miami-Dade school leader pushes state board on school grades, Miami Herald, Christina Veiga
"A fight over standardized testing and school accountability came close to home on Monday, when the Florida Board of Education's traveled to fertile ground for criticism: Miami-Dade County.

Orange County School Board discusses high school start times, Orlando Sentinel, Annie Martin
"Pushing back high school start times might relieve tired teenagers, but it could be costly because of transportation issues, Orange County School Board members heard during a work session Tuesday night. The board didn't take any action, but they heard from district staff about possible changes to school start times and the estimated costs. The county's high schools now start between 7:10 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and dismiss between 1:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m."

Disparity in education funding leaves Lake County at a disadvantage, Daily Commercial, Amber Riccinto
"In so many ways Lake County is an average or above-average Florida community. Its median income is average, its population is slightly above average and its racial makeup is slightly below average. It is even located in the center of the state, making it "average" geographically. But Lake County is far below average in one critical way: It ranks next to last in Florida in per-pupil funding."

Reports of Note

Student Data Privacy Legislation What Happened in 2015, and What Is Next?, Data Quality Campaign

Developing Excellent School Principals to Advance Teaching and Learning: Considerations for State Policy, The Wallace Foundation

Other Views

Florida opts out so often it can't tell parents not to, Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino

Support independent charter schools, don't strangle them, Miami Herald op-ed, Christopher Norwood of the Miami Education Advisory Board

Why Would Jeb Bush's Foundation Want Students to Fail?, League of Women Voters Education Issues blog

Call timeout on student testing until Florida can get it right, Paula Dockery

Coming Up

The Florida Chamber of Commerce will talk education at its Future of Florida Forum at Champions Gate.

[Last modified: Friday, September 25, 2015 1:27pm]


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