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Florida education news: Budgets, whistleblowers, mottos and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Students practice making online music at Sanders Elementary School in Lando O'Lakes. [Michele Miller | Times]
Students practice making online music at Sanders Elementary School in Lando O'Lakes. [Michele Miller | Times]
Published Jan. 24, 2018

BUDGETS:  The Florida House releases its proposed education spending plan, calling for a $100 increase in per student funding — half that requested by Gov. Rick Scott. Its approach to generating more revenue also differs from Scott's plan. As for the Senate, it puts out its proposal today. See the House recommendation here.

"IN GOD WE TRUST": A House committee unanimously approves a bill to require all public schools post the state motto in a "conspicuous place." ""We're taking God out of everything. This country was built on God," said Rep. Larry Lee Jr., who sits on the PreK-12 Innovation Committee.

THE WHISTLEBLOWER: An upset Hillsborough County School Board member tries to unmask an anonymous blogger who regularly criticizes the board.

START TIMES: Pinellas County school district officials call for high schools to begin classes 20 minutes later in the day starting next fall. Some parents have been asking for 90 minutes.

GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS: The Florida House alters a bill that would mandate a financial literacy course to earn a high school diploma, making the provision an elective instead.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: Hillsborough County's chief of schools is a finalist for the superintendent job in Omaha, Nebraska, the Omaha World-Herald reports. With sidebar.

LABOR NEWS: Sarasota County teachers protest for a pay raise, WWSB reports. • The Polk County School Board ratifies a new employee contract that includes small raises, the News Chief reports.

GENDER ISSUES: A Volusia County transgender student sues the school district over its restroom and locker room policies, WKMG reports.

TURNAROUNDS: The Marion County School Board decides to hire an outside company to run struggling Evergreen Elementary if it earn another poor state grade, rather than shut it down, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

BULLYING: Bay County parents and school district officials grapple with how to deal with cyberbullying after a middle school student commits suicide and her family says she was bullied, the Panama City News Herald reports.

DIVERSITY: The NAACP tells the Lee County school district to deal with racial disparities in schools or face a lawsuit, the Naples Daily News reports.

SPECIAL TEACHER: Students from Francinelee Hand's 1962 third grade class seek her out and have a reunion at a Miami Beach country club, the Miami Herald reports.

EVALUATIONS: A review of teacher evaluations in Palm Beach County shows wide variety in how administrators rate performance, the Palm Beach Post reports.

CALENDARS: The Leon County school district asks parents to vote on when they prefer school holidays, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

EXTRA EYES: The Manatee County School Board establishes a community financial oversight committee as it heads toward a local schools tax referendum, the Herald-Tribune reports.

SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS: The Seminole County School Board plans to look for its member who has missed 11 months of meetings, to ask what he is doing, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

CHARTER FUNDS: The Sarasota County school district revises its capital funds sharing plan to boost the share of a charter school where most students come from Charlotte County, the Herald-Tribune reports.

INVESTIGATIONS: The Broward County school district considers changing policy to stop the practice of school police investigating teachers who are late to work, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • The Sarasota County School Board adjusts its policy on investigating complaints against the superintendent or board members, the Herald-Tribune reports.

IN COURT: A former Polk County school administrator is sentenced to four years in prison for stealing more than $100,000 from two schools, the Ledger reports.

TODAY IN TALLAHASSEE: Senate PreK-12 Appropriations, 9 a.m. • Senate Higher Education Appropriations, 11:30 a.m. • The full Senate convenes at 4 p.m., and is to take up SB 118 on lawmaker visits to schools.