TAMPA -- And then there were 10.Hillsborough voters saw a handful of challengers melt away Friday as the deadline passed to qualify for a seat on the School Board in the Aug. 24 primary and Nov. 4 general election.
In the countywide District 6 race, incumbent April Griffin saw the number of challengers drop from six to a more manageable three. In Distric...06/11/10 Blog
TAMPA – Some say public schools should be run more like businesses.
For them, some good news: the Hillsborough County school district will gain two corporate types on two-year fellowships this fall, courtesy of the Broad and Bill & Melinda Gates foundations.
The Broad Residency in Urban Education helps experienced corporate executives make the transition to a possible career in public education. The foundation recruits and selects applicants, who must then interview for positions with districts....06/10/10 Blog
TAMPA – Yes, it’s summer reading season. And if you’re looking for something light on school reform, the Hillsborough County school district has just the thing: a new “e-magazine” devoted to its seven-year partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The first issue, recently posted on the district’s web site, features a few of the veteran teachers who have been hired to mentor and evaluate their colleagues beginning this fall. There’s also an interview with Charlotte Danielson, the national evaluation expert who helped design the district’s new system....06/08/10 Blog
TAMPA -- Teacher layoffs are still off the table in the Hillsborough County school system, superintendent MaryEllen Elia said at a Tuesday workshop.
But something has to give as the district faces a growing budget gap for next year. At the moment, officials are taking a hard look at health care benefits.
If no changes are made, the district will pay around $29 million more just to keep its existing Humana policy as it is, benefits manager Deborah Henry told the board. Doing so could push the district's budget shortfall to $37 million....06/07/10 Blog
TAMPA -- Ballooning health care costs may push the Hillsborough County school district's budget around $12 million into the red, part of a projected $20 million shortfall, board members learned last month.
On Tuesday, they'll find out why at a 10:15 a.m. workshop devoted to health care costs. The board will learn that medical claims are growing at 10 to 12 percent per employee each year, according to district documents. Some 348 employees are by themselves responsible for around $41 million in costs, due to claims in excess of $50,000....03/18/10Legislature
TALLAHASSEE — The pace of the legislative session continues to pick up today, with the House and Senate expected to pass several significant pieces of legislation — from bills requiring civics education in public schools and excusing breastfeeding moms from jury duty, to banning adoption agencies from asking prospective parents whether they own firearms.
House Republicans also are likely to vote out of the chamber a controversial bill creating leadership funds that candidates can use to raise unlimited dollars from special interests....03/16/10News
TALLAHASSEE — Getting — and keeping — the popular Bright Futures scholarship might be more difficult if a proposal made Tuesday in a Senate budget committee wins favor.
The proposed overhaul of the program includes raising the SAT requirements by up to 80 points, reducing the time a student has to use the money and restricting funding to only classes the student needs to graduate....03/16/10 Blog
The House criminal justice appropriations committee has an idea for saving some $300,000 a year: Eliminate the chiefs of staffs for the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Corrections.
The DOC chief of staff, Bonnie Rogers, now gets more than $147,000 a year in salary and benefits. The DJJ chief of staff, Kelly Layman, is paid $137,000 a year in salary and benefits....03/16/10 Blog
The Senate's higher education proposal for the coming year is some $373 million more than what the House budget committee unveiled last week, but the most notable part of the Senate proposal is the suggested overhaul for Bright Futures, the popular merit scholarship program that -- until recently -- lawmakers have been reluctant to touch.
The Senate proposal (foreshadowed in a meeting last month) not only caps the tuition at current-year levels (even though tuition is likely to go up by as much as 15 percent for universities next year.) It also:...03/15/10Legislature
WESLEY CHAPEL — When Pasco County school principal Ginny Yanson had to get rid of a bad teacher recently, it was like running an obstacle course.
The teacher was new, still on probation. Under state law, she could be fired without cause. And yet, when she refused to execute lesson plans and "wasn't doing any teaching," Yanson couldn't just pull out a pink slip. ...03/11/10 Blog
The Senate committee crafting the budget for K-12 public and charter schools on Thursday received grim data on projected enrollment and tax revenues that, combined, promise to make its job more challenging.
In a 180-degree turn from last spring when education officials were projecting a 10,000-student decline in enrollment, state officials now say that more than 19,000 additional students are likely to show up in K-12 classrooms this fall....03/11/10 Blog
As lawmakers in Tallahassee push a proposed constitutional amendment that would freeze class size counts at the schoolwide level, school principals across the state are planning for the 2010-11 school year based on the 2003 constitutional amendment that says class size has to be calculated class by class in each school.
Yet if the proposed class size amendment is approved by voters in November, what should Florida schools do? And will they be penalized for failing to meet the class-by-class standards between August and November, even though the Florida Department of Education knows adoption of the amendment could render any "violations" moot?...03/11/10Legislature
TALLAHASSEE — Gambling talks continue in the Legislature on Thursday, as the House committee charged with drafting a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida considers the impact of Vegas-style casinos on the Sunshine State's tourism industry and economy. Also, the Senate's budget committees will meet for the first time since Senate President Jeff Atwater released information on how much money they have to work with. ...03/10/10 Blog
Senate President Jeff Atwater just released initial budget allocations to his chamber, stressing that he aims to make the budget process for the 2010-11 year even more "transparent" than last year.
"Line-item spending and proviso will be discussed in the sunshine, not slipped into the budget at the last moment," he warned in a memo to senators.
"As we begin drafting proposed committee budgets, we will continue and expand upon that process. Line-item spending and proviso will be discussed in the sunshine, not slipped into the budget at the last moment. Specifically, that means: ...03/09/10 Blog
Republicans in the House are lockstep on many issues, but it seems red light cameras aren't in that mix.
Rep. Robert Schenck, R-Spring Hill, wants to ban (via HB 1235) red light cameras as intersection traffic enforcement tools. But Pro Tempore Ron Reagan has competing legislation (HB 325) that would expand the use of red light cameras and create a more uniform system of enforcement and penalties....