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Florida education news: Student funding, teachers with guns, free speech and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Students at John W. Lockhart Magnet Elementary School in Tampa use a flight simulator during a Gifted Technology Goals class.
Published Mar. 21

FUNDING: The Florida House and Senate unveil education budget proposals that stand more than half a billion dollars apart. They differ on per-student funding and base student allocation levels, but agree for the first time in a while on local school district tax rates. And neither matches Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recommended spending plan.

TEACHERS WITH GUNS: With 30 minutes left in a 2-hour meeting, the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee announces the postponement of an anticipated debate over a bill that would permit teachers to participate in the state’s school guardian program. The House is to take up a similar proposal at 8 a.m. today.

FREE SPEECH: A Hillsborough County School Board meeting regular is thrown out of the chambers and barred from attending for a year, after making “overly personal” remarks during public comment.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A plan to expand the “Schools of Hope” charter school model, which does not have any operating schools in the state yet, gains traction in the Florida House.

HANDS-ON LEARNING: Pasco County’s Krinn Technical High launches a long-term aquaponics initiative to involve all its programs in a school-wide project.

SECURITY: The Citrus County sheriff agrees to begin a school guardian program, after previously raising concerns about the level of training required for the participants, the Citrus County Chronicle reports. • Palm Beach County charter schools struggled to find security guards without their school district’s help, the Palm Beach Post reports.

SCHOOL FOR SALE: The building housing a Broward County charter high school is on the market as a commercial property available for repurposing, the Sun-Sentinel reports. What that means for the charter school, open since 2011, is unclear.

GUNS ON CAMPUS: A Polk County teen is arrested on accusations of bringing a gun to school, the Ledger reports.

TODAY: House Education, 8 a.m. (On the agenda: Committee bill on school safety, HB 741 on anti-Semitism) • Full Senate, 10 a.m. (On special order: SB 74, limiting the subjects of a Constitutional Revision Commission amendment)

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. First page of school data report Times staff
    Find your school in these reports.
  2. Colleen Beaudoin is selected Pasco County School Board chairwoman for 2020, and Allen Altman is named vice chairman. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Altman chosen as vice chairman.
  3. Melissa Snively and Steve Cona III are the new chair and vice chair of the Hillsborough County School Board. MARLENE   |  Times staff
    Steve Cona III is vice chair.
  4. Hillsborough County School Board member Karen Perez MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff
    School board member Karen Perez sees student stress in her social work practice.
  5. Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at pre-legislative news conference on Tuesday Oct. 29, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    He’s got a new voucher proposal, as well.
  6. Pasco school bus drivers are among those school-related employees who would get a 3.25 percent raise under a tentative contract agreement for 2019-20.
    District, union attention now turns to teacher contracts.
  7. Teacher Kate Newell watches seventh graders Aaron Roxberry and Jacob Iovino practice the slope-intercept formula in one of her weekly visits to their Bayonet Point Middle algebra class, which Newell usually teaches remotely. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. eSchool teacher Kate Newell holds a discussion-based assessment with eighth-grader Ariana Toro during a recent visit to Bayonet Point Middle School. Newell leads the math course remotely most days, but comes to campus at least once weekly to give her students some extra attention. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Principals increasingly turn to virtual instruction to fill their vacancies.
  9. Victoria Arriaga, left, does a letter-matching activity during Priscilla Perez's pre-kindergarten class at West Tampa Elementary School in 2018.  [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
    Reading proficiency, however, continues to be a challenge.
  10. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing $1 billion in increased teacher pay as part of a $91.4 billion state budget he put forward on Monday. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    The Florida governor also wants to hire hundreds of new corrections officers and spend $1.4 billion on hurricane recovery.