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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.
Students at John W. Lockhart Magnet Elementary School in Tampa use a flight simulator during a Gifted Technology Goals class.
Published Mar. 21, 2019

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. Custodian James Berrien, (center) and Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins are pictured at Cypress Creek Elementary for the opening of a time capsule buried in 1991 when Eakins was a 4th-grade teacher. It was the first year that Berrien, present at the burial of the capsule, worked at the school. Febuary 27. Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 in Ruskin.  [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  2. Hillsborough school superintendent Jeff Eakins holds a time capsule at Cypress Creek Elementary Thursday in Ruskin. Eakins, who retires soon, was a fourth-grade teacher at the school when the capsule was buried in 1991. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  3. Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has pushed for changes to Florida's restraint and seclusion laws for nearly a decade.  (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) [Associated Press (2016)]
  4. Health officials recommend washing hands frequently and sanitizing toys, clothes and other items as often as possible to avoid the spread of viruses.
  5. An artist's rendering shows one view of Tyrone Middle School in St. Petersburg after a $28 million renovation. Work is expected to start in February 2021. The Pinellas County School Board approved a contract with Rowe Architects Inc. to work on the project. [Pinellas County Schools]
  6. Graduates enjoy fireworks at Bright House Field.
  7. A bill to merge Florida Polytechnic into the University of Florida keeps advancing, even as most lawmakers say they don't approve.  [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2018]
  8. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D- Orlando  [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  9. More than 100 people turned out Jan. 15, 2019, to give the Pasco County School Board their thoughts on the district's policy and procedures for transgender student rights. [JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  10. Hudson High student Kaitlyn Helzer introduces herself to a curious corn snake during the Nature Coast Envirothon, held Feb. 19 at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Sumter County. Students from Pasco, Hernando, Sumter and Citrus counties tested their knowledge on aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife while vying for a spot at state competition. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
  11. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020. [JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ  |  Times]
  12. Teacher Dequita Parker guides youngsters to lunch from the playground Sept. 20 at the PromiseLand Early Childhood Education Center in Tampa.