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  1. Gradebook

Florida education news: Rebuilding plans, election campaigns, helping hands and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.

REBUILDING: The Hillsborough County school district makes plans to rebuild a community elementary school gutted by fire a year ago. District officials negotiated full insurance coverage for the project.

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: The Pasco County school employees union decides not to endorse candidates for School Board. • The campaign for a Hillsborough County schools sales tax referendum receives more donations, but less money, than a transportation tax effort. • Manatee County voters will decide whether to elect School Board members into single-member districts or at-large, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Orange County school district officials say organizers of a rally favoring Amendment 4 deceived them in order to gain access to a school, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

GIVING BACK: Students at Pasco County's Achieve Center, for children with emotional and behavior challenges, create and operate a food pantry as a class project.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A former treasurer of a Collier County charter school founded by prominent local politicians alleges the school's leadership had lax oversight of finances, creating an environment for possible fraud, the Naples Daily News reports. Rep. Byron Donalds, one of the founders, says he is considering filing a bill to add more accountability measures for charters, the Naples Daily News reports.

EARLY EDUCATION: Children in Florida's prekindergarten program are projected to fare worse on kindergarten readiness assessments as funding remains flat, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports. • A Collier County foundation dedicates funds to preschool programs in impoverished communities and sees improving achievement, the Hechinger Report reports.

IN COURT: An Okaloosa County family sues the school district in federal court, alleging a pattern of abuse against students with disabilities, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports. • Leon County schools spend about $500,000 a year on lawsuits, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

TEACHER PAY: Martin County teachers receive pay raises after voters approve a tax increase to fund the amount, Florida Phoenix reports.

DOCUMENT DISPUTE: The Bay County health department denies allegations by the school district that its employees improperly removed student health documents from schools, My Panhandle reports.

GETTING HOME: A Polk County 6-year-old hitchhikes home after his school bus drops him off at the wrong stop more than a mile from home, WFLA reports. The driver is placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

"IN GOD WE TRUST": Lake County schools follow the state's new mandate to post the state motto prominently in schools by displaying the state seal, the Daily Commercial reports.

NUTRITION LESSONS: The Marion County hospital district will fund greenhouses in all seven county high schools, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

ACHIEVEMENT GAP: Sarasota County black students continue to underperform compared to others, despite three years of efforts to close the gap, the Herald-Tribune reports.

ART LESSONS: Southwest Florida art teachers gather at Ringling College for new ideas to use in their classrooms, the Herald-Tribune reports.

AUDIT REPORT: Leon County's former schools superintendent refuses to take the blame for critical findings in a recent state audit, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.