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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
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. Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins, shown at Mort Elementary School in 2016, is retiring effective June 30. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
    Jeff Eakins, the current superintendent, is retiring, effective June 30.
  2. Hillsborough county parents can check the district's website for their child's bus route and their school's bus schedule. Visit, click the link under "Preparing for Back to School," then find the links for "Bus Schedule" and "Bus Availability." For more information, call (813) 982-5500. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times]
    Our running list of the candidates to replace superintendent Jeff Eakins includes top educators with a wide range of experience.
  3. Tricia McManus, an assistant superintendent for the Hillsborough County School District, rolled out the district's new Achievement Zone plan for struggling schools at a community meeting in 2018. The word "zone" was removed early on. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
    Tricia McManus will become a deputy superintendent in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
  4. A vigil at Pine Trails Park in Parkland for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. Some schools have already closed for the holidays, but everyone should be off by the end of the day Dec. 20. [Times (2015)]
    Some schools are closing for the holidays this week; others won’t be done for a few days. Then it’s lights out until early January.
  6. This Feb. 19 photo shows a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File]
    The grand jury said districts are creating “unnecessary chaos” and have become “experts at data manipulation.”
  7. Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis with Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Sheriff Chad Chronister speaking at Hillsborough High School on Thursday, Dec. 12. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    If students feel supported, educators say, schools will be safer and more productive
  8. Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, presents his bill on civics education to the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee on Dec. 11, 2019. The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport,’ sponsor Rep. Ben Diamond reminds colleagues.
  9. Haley Manigold, second from left, and Armwood High School classmates Maria Medina and Madison Harvey take a photo with Sen. Tom Lee, who is sponsoring their legislation, and teacher Tony Pirotta.  They presented their bill in the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 9, 2019. [EMILY L. MAHONEY  |  Times Staff]
    Armwood High senior Haley Manigold discusses her effort to convince lawmakers to adopt testing legislation.
  10. Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
    Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said she thinks Republican leaders want to keep the number under wraps because it points to the controversial program’s “failure.”