Florida education news: Elections, school closures, gender issues and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Published November 7 2018
Updated November 7 2018

TOP OF THE TICKET: School choice supporter Republican Ron DeSantis narrowly wins Florida's governorship. He's talked about expanding choice options, growing technical education programs, putting and 80 percent of education funds — along with the constitution — into the classroom. Republicans also held majorities in the state House and Senate.

SCHOOL BOARDS: The results were a bit unexpected in several Tampa Bay area races. Outsiders Steve Cona and Karen Perez defeated veteran school district employees for Hillsborough County board. •  Pinellas County incumbent Peggy O'Shea loses to Nicole Carr,  with Lisa Cane and Bill Dudley winning the other two contested seats. • In Pasco County's lone race, teacher Megan Harding overcame limited endorsements and money to win retiring Steve Luikart's seat. • In Hernando County, perennial candidate Jimmy Lodato claimed victory over longtime office holder Diane Rowden. • Around the state, some highlights included: Manatee County voters choose to convert their School Board seats to single member districts, the Bradenton Herald reports. • Volusia County voters oust incumbent Melody Johnson, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • Two Duval County board candidates win seats despite being significantly outspent, the Florida Times-Union reports. • Lee County elects its first African-American School Board member, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. • Leon County voters toss out their longest serving current board member, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

SCHOOL TAXES: Voters across Florida continued their string of support for local tax initiatives designed to help pay for maintenance and construction projects, or for operations. Among the districts with wins were Hillsborough, Miami-Dade (Miami Herald), Palm Beach (PB Post), Alachua (Gainesville Sun), Martin (TC Palm), Polk (Ledger), Charlotte (Charlotte Sun) and Lee (Fort Myers News-Press).

SUPERINTENDENT ELECTIONS: The role of elected superintendent became more a novelty for Florida, as several districts voted to move to an appointed position instead. Among those changing the model are Martin (TC Palm), Marion (Ocala Star-Banner), and Escambia (Pensacola News-Journal).

SCHOOL CLOSURES: The Pasco County school district proposes closing two west-side elementary schools as a way to consolidate seats in an area where many campuses are well below capacity. The recommendation comes a week after officials call for closing one east-side school. They all serve low-income communities.

SAFETY FIRST: Absences double at a Charlotte County high school after it receives a shooting threat, the Charlotte Sun reports. • Some key state lawmakers say they want to further enhance school security requirements, Redefined reports.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Bay County schools struggle to determine how many students have returned to classes after Hurricane Michael, the Panama City News Herald reports.

BACK TO WORK: A Polk County teacher who had been fired over interactions with students is reinstated, the Ledger reports.

STUDENT VOICES: Some Collier County students risk suspension by leaving classes to encourage people to vote, the Naples Daily News reports.

GENDER ISSUES: Amid heated rhetoric, the Sarasota County School Board upholds the administration's new guidelines on transgender student rights, the Herald-Tribune reports.

BAD ACTS: A Miami-Dade County school security guard is arrested on allegations of drug dealing while in uniform during work hours, the Miami Herald reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday's Florida education news roundup

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