Florida education news: School taxes, campus safety, district leadership and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Sickles High School seniors Eva Hilton, Tate Wymer and Celia Balch took a shift Tuesday waving signs at the Westchase public library to support the schools tax referendum in Hillsborough. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
Sickles High School seniors Eva Hilton, Tate Wymer and Celia Balch took a shift Tuesday waving signs at the Westchase public library to support the schools tax referendum in Hillsborough. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
Published January 9

TAXES: Calling Florida's fiscal condition fluid and volatile, chief state economist Amy Baker tells lawmakers their decision on the property tax rate levels they set for school districts will be a key factor in funding critical government needs. • Many school districts have already turned to local taxing options to boost resources, including St. Johns County, where its sales tax revenue is exceeding projections, the St. Augustine Record reports.

SCHOOL SAFETY: A Florida Senate committee lays the groundwork for tweaking the state's new school security requirements in several areas, such as funding priorities and the frequency of active-shooter drills. Some members of the public say they'll fight any effort to arm teachers as part of the process. More from Florida Politics.

DISTRICT LEADERSHIP: The Hernando County School Board prepares to drop the "interim" from superintendent John Stratton's title. • Attending a two-day retreat, Hillsborough County School Board members discuss shifting some district priorities and practices.

SCHOOL CLOSING PLANS: Pasco County school district leaders say they will stick with a proposal to close two west-side schools and reorganize others unless they hear otherwise from their board at a February workshop.

ON DEFENSE: Manatee County interim superintendent Cynthia Saunders defends herself against allegations of graduation rate fixing as her School Board debates extending her contract, the Bradenton Herald reports. • A Manatee County charter school principal fights accusations that he helped an alleged sex offender get a teaching job in Sarasota County, the Herald-Tribune reports.

NEW SCHOOLS: Collier County School Board members get closer to picking a new high school site in Bonita Springs, the Naples Daily News reports.

VIRTUAL LEARNING: Bay County students turn to online classes to help them keep up as their schools work to rebound from Hurricane Michael damages, the Panama City News Herald reports.

WATER WOES: The Marion County school district considers adding a new water filtration system to a school where it has spent $21,000 annually on bottled water and ice because of concerns over water quality, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

ETHICS VIOLATION: A Palm Beach County school district investigation finds School Board member Debra Robinson violated the district's code of ethics when she vowed to punish a radio station that did not support her reelection bid, the Palm Beach Post reports.

NO PARKING: Santa Rosa County moves to restrict parking during school events in a neighborhood across the street from Navarre High, forcing students to look elsewhere, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS: The head of Sarasota County's teacher union says the district should reduce its use of long-term substitutes and hire full-time certified educators for all classrooms, the Herald-Tribune reports.

DISTRICT DEPARTURE: A third top administrator quits the Broward County school district, the Sun-Sentinel reports. The HR director had faced criticism over a decision not to fire an employee who became the first to see a gunman enter the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High campus.

ICYMI: Yesterday's Florida education news roundup

TODAY: House Higher Education committees joint meeting, 1 p.m. • House PreK-12 Innovation, 5 p.m.

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