Florida education news: Armed teachers, school security, teacher pay and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Hillcrest High School junior Bret Gillespie, junior, call for teachers to be armed during a counter-protest as classmates participate in a walkout to protest gun violence, Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Idaho Falls, Idaho, one month after the deadly shooting inside a high school in Parkland, Fla. (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP)
Hillcrest High School junior Bret Gillespie, junior, call for teachers to be armed during a counter-protest as classmates participate in a walkout to protest gun violence, Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Idaho Falls, Idaho, one month after the deadly shooting inside a high school in Parkland, Fla. (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP)
Published February 13

ARMED TEACHERS: On a party line vote, the Florida Senate Education committee advances legislation that would allow teachers to participate in their district’s armed guard program — something that was explicitly barred in a 2018 school security law. The committee rejected an amendment to remove the section about armed teachers, but adopted one that would give superintendents final say over who becomes a guard. Though the idea of teachers with guns has strong opposition, it now has support in one place it didn’t a year ago — the governor’s mansion.

SECURITY: Pinellas County schools adopt a new system to help them better communicate with law enforcement in the event of an emergency. • Broward County’s school buses should be off an overloaded public safety radio system and on a new one by the next school year, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Broward County school district officials turned down a 2013 plan to increase local security funding with a special tax, with the money going to areas the district was found deficient in after the 2018 Parkland school shooting, the Sun-Sentinel reports. More on the response to the Parkland shooting from UPI.

TEACHER PAY: The Pinellas County School Board ratifies a new teacher contract providing raises and improved working conditions. • Veteran Lee County teachers leave the profession amid concerns of low pay and a lack of respect, Fort Myers Florida Weekly reports.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: The Pasco County School Board is increasingly unlikely to vote in March on a proposal to overhaul west-county school offerings, as the administration seeks to revise its initiative.

TURNAROUNDS: The charter school firm that took over perpetually failing Jefferson County schools details successes in its efforts, and notes that adequate funding is a key component, WJCT reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A group seeking to open a charter high school in Destin (Okaloosa County) makes progress in raising money to meet its goal, the Destin Log reports.

COMMON CORE: The Duval County School Board adopts new textbooks after determining they could meet standards other than Common Core, which Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he wants to eliminate, WJAX reports. • Volusia County school district leaders are still trying to catch up from the last time Florida changed its standards, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

CONTROVERSIAL READING: A Seminole County teacher is under investigation after parents complain about a book he read to his first grade class, WFTV reports. The book was about two male rabbits falling in love.

HEALTH SERVICES: The Bay County school district and health department end a lengthy dispute over services for students with a new agreement, MyPanhandle.com reports. • Palm Beach County schools have added counselors and mental health professionals to help students in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, the Palm Beach Post reports.

SUPERINTENDENTS: The Manatee County School Board narrowly approves an extension of superintendent Cynthia Saunders’ contract, the Bradenton Herald reports. More from the Herald-Tribune.

SCHEDULING: The Volusia County School Board gives itself six weeks decide how its bell schedule will look in 2019-20, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

OVERSIGHT: Okaloosa County’s new superintendent asks for a state review of the district’s special education programs, which were the source of several problems under the past administration, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

SCHOOL THREATS: An Okaloosa County seventh grader is arrested on accusations he threatened to shoot a school resource officer, WKRG reports. • The Cape Coral police chief issues a warning to families that school threats can result in felony charges, after a spate of such threats, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

BRAWLING: One student is arrested and five issued citations after a fight erupts at a Miami-Dade County high school, WPLG reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup

TODAY: House Higher Education Appropriations, 10:30 a.m. • House PreK-12 Innovation, 1:30 p.m. (On the agenda: HB 401, mastery based education) • House PreK-12 Appropriations, 4 p.m. (On the agenda: Status of Safe Schools Appropriations in SB 7026) • House Higher Education, 4 p.m. (On the agenda: HB 257, Excess Credit Hour Surcharges)

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