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Florida education news: Vouchers, bonus pay, tax revenue and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
A Florida House committee has advanced a proposal to expand state private school vouchers. A Koch-related group is pushing to go even further with universal school vouchers, also called "education scholarship accounts." | YouTube
Published Mar. 15

VOUCHERS: A proposal to create a new private school voucher program to supplement the existing tax-credit scholarship program for low income students passes its first committee in the Florida House. The measure, more expansive than the Senate’s version, would increase the income eligibility over time, so more middle class families could participate. More from the Orlando Sentinel, News Service of Florida.

BONUS PAY: Non-classroom teachers in Pasco County won’t be getting a bonus they received last year when their district provided an amount equal to a Best and Brightest award, even though they weren’t eligible for the state program. • The Lee County school district loses $200,000 in Best and Brightest funding because of a paperwork error, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

SALES TAX FUNDS: Hillsborough County schools begin to see progress on repair projects paid for by the district’s new sales tax. An oversight committee plans to discuss how charter schools might get a portion of the revenue.

SAFETY LAWS: Florida’s grand jury investigation into school districts’ adherence to school safety laws puts a spotlight on individual responsibility for school and district leaders in times of crisis, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

NOW IT’S TIME TO SAY GOODBYE? The recent battle over Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie’s tenure raises the tricky question of when a superintendent should take a cue and depart, Education Week reports.

STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS: A plan to tighten the eligibility requirements to earn Bright Futures scholarships could have negative consequences for minority students, Florida Phoenix reports.

STATE FUNDS: Florida’s general revenue is on track to remain stable, but only because of rollover funds that will not repeat, Florida Politics reports.

ANOTHER ONE GONE: The Broward County school district administrator who oversaw the district’s controversial suspension diversion program resigns, the latest in a string of officials to leave, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

ABOUT THAT COLIN KAEPERNICK DISPLAY: The Charlotte County high school principal who ordered the removal of a teacher’s Black History Month display apologizes to the teacher and to students, the Charlotte Sun reports.

SCHOOL THREATS: A Citrus County teen who threatened violence against his school gets probation after promising to give up his weapons and get a high school diploma, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

START TIMES: The Indian River County School Board revives discussion about whether to start high school classes later each day, TC Palm reports.

CONSTITUTION REVISION: The Florida House takes steps to do away with the Constitution Revision Commission process, Florida Phoenix reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A new Leon County charter school makes progress toward opening after its long battle to win approval, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

SECURITY: The Monroe County school district takes a stance against arming teachers, but is considering whether to hire its own guards, the Key West Citizen reports.

IN COURT: An Okaloosa County family sues the school district alleging their son was sexually abused in school, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

BAD ACTS: A Brevard County high school student is arrested on allegations he hit a school custodian and tried to take his car, Florida Today reports.

TODAY: Education Estimating Conference: Student Financial Aid, 1 p.m.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Student activists with the March For Our Lives group, founded after the Feb. 2018 Parkland shooting, hold a banner that promotes their new "peace plan" to prevent gun violence, while demonstrating in the rotunda of the state capitol building in Tallahassee. Emily L. Mahoney | Times
    The 18-year-old student director of March for Our Lives Florida said school shootings are so common they are “not shocking” anymore.
  2. Steven Currall prepares to deliver an address during his investiture as the University of South Florida's seventh president Thursday at the Yuengling Center in Tampa. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    Though he started the job in July, Steve Currall is officially installed as president on his 137th day in office.
  3. Gov. Ron DeSantis greets local officials at Dunedin High School on Oct. 7, 2019, part of a swing around the state to announce his plan to boost starting teacher pay in Florida to $47,500. He revealed a related teacher bonus plan on Nov. 14 in Vero Beach. MEGAN REEVES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The new plan would replace the controversial Best and Brightest model that DeSantis had called confusing.
  4. Cotee River Elementary student Darrell Jones waves his American flag during the school's Veterans Day program.
    The School Board is scheduled to vote on the calendar next week.
  5. Pasco eSchool principal JoAnne Glenn is surprised by school district officials who announced she is their 2020 Principal of the Year. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    A discussion with Pasco County Principal of the Year JoAnne Glenn.
  6. An investiture ceremony is set for Thursday at 2 p.m. inside USF’s Yuengling Center in Tampa. Currall and other USF leaders will speak about the school’s future.
  7. Experts are recommending the flu shot as outbreaks pop up in Hillsborough County schools.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. The Pasco County school district is considering an increase in substitute teacher pay to combat its low fill rate for the jobs.
    District officials say more competitive wages could help fill vacancies, which have been rising.
  9. JoAnne Glenn is cheered by her staff as deputy superintendent Ray Gadd and other district officials surprise her with the announcement that she is Pasco County's 2020 Principal of the Year. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    JoAnne Glenn next will be entered for the statewide honor.
  10. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning briefly blocked a critic from his social media accounts. He has since restored access to the person but says he would rather they have a conversation, “like two grown adults.” [Times (2016)]
    Kurt Browning restored his online nemesis as a Twitter follower and Facebook friend after staffers told him that blocking people was a no-no.