Florida education news: Early release, suicide prevention, school funding and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times Chester Taylor Elementary School kindergartener Urijah Smiley, 5, uses an iPad to access an reading application, Bookshelf, while practicing reading in class. Pasco County schools might give students monthly early release days starting in the fall.
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times Chester Taylor Elementary School kindergartener Urijah Smiley, 5, uses an iPad to access an reading application, Bookshelf, while practicing reading in class. Pasco County schools might give students monthly early release days starting in the fall.
Published March 28

EARLY RELEASE: Pasco County students might soon join counterparts across the region and state in getting dismissed early on set dates so their teachers can have more time for planning and training. School Board members say they like the idea, so long as they can accommodate for the inconveniences that parents likely will face.

SUICIDE PREVENTION: When Florida lawmakers set aside $69 million for school districts to improve mental health services, they didn’t include money for suicide prevention. With two recent suicides of Parkland students, the issue is coming to the forefront. More from the Miami Herald, Florida Politics.

FUNDING: The Florida House and Senate appropriations committees move their budget proposals to their respective chamber floors, with stark differences in education spending plans, the Associated Press reports. • Amid their budget discussions, the bodies are debating whether to change the District Cost Differential formula, the News Service of Florida reports. • Bay County school district leaders continue to seek hurricane recovery funding from lawmakers, the Panama City News Herald reports.

VOUCHER VIEWS: Opposing groups of pastors take sides on Florida’s plan to expand school voucher programs, Florida Phoenix reports.

LABOR NEWS: Brevard County teacher contract talks remain stalled, with the district re-offering the same proposal that led the union to declare impasse, Florida Today reports. • Miami-Dade College adjunct instructors narrowly approve unionization, the Miami Herald reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: Affiliates of Charter Schools USA purchase two schools from the group for nearly $45 million, GlobeSt.com reports.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS: The Florida chapter of Special Olympics says it cannot afford to lose federal funding support, as U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed, CBS 4 Gainesville reports.

RACE RELATIONS: Charlotte County school district officials say they plan to initiate a diversity council made up of students to advise the Port Charlotte High principal after they run into criticism over their handling of a teacher’s Black History Month display, the Charlotte Sun reports.

TURNAROUNDS: A D-rated Clay County elementary school gets additional resources to help improve its student performance, Clay Today reports.

JUST SAY NO: About 200 students complete the Lake County Sheriff’s Office DARE program, which had been shuttered for six years, the Daily Commercial reports.

BUS STOP SAFETY: The Lee County school district and city of Cape Coral will look into bus stop safety after a girl was killed by traffic while waiting for her bus, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

TEXTBOOKS: Volusia County teachers urge their School Board to buy new elementary school books in language arts and math, despite the state’s planned standards review, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: Indian River County superintendent Mark Rendell acknowledges he’s been job hunting, prompting the School Board chairwoman to call for a superintendent search, TC Palm reports.

JOB TRAINING: The Escambia County school district holds off its acceptance of a $3 million job training grant because the superintendent doesn’t like some of the terms, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

IN COURT: The former owner of two Orlando private schools serving children with autism has been convicted of witness tampering in her Medicaid fraud case, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

BAD ACTS: A Hillsborough County high school teacher is arrested on accusations of a sexual relationship with a student.

TODAY: House Education, 8:30 a.m. (On the agenda: HJR 229, School Board term limits, HB 807 Civics Education) • Florida Board of Governors, 2 p.m. (On the agenda: consideration of presidents for USF, UCF and FAU)

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup

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