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Florida education news: Armed teachers, school board term limits, reading lessons and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
MONICA HERNDON | Times Students and supporters of March For Our Lives held a rally opposing HB 7093 on the Old State Capitol steps on April 3, 2019 at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida. HB 7093 proposes arming teachers.
Published Apr. 18

ARMED TEACHERS: The Florida Senate moves ahead with school security legislation that would allow classroom teachers to carry weapons. The members reject amendments to delete that provision, and to let parents opt out of classrooms with armed teachers, as the bill advances to its final reading. • School district leaders across northeast Florida span the spectrum from full support to total opposition, the Florida Times-Union reports. • More from Florida Phoenix, Sun-Sentinel.

TERM LIMITS: A measure to hold a statewide referendum on limiting school board member terms falters in a key Senate committee. More from Florida Politics.

READING LESSONS: Why do Hillsborough County schools have such a large percentage of low-performing readers? A special report from Marlene Sokol. With sidebars and advice. Visit the Gradebook at 9 a.m. for a podcast conversation about the issue.

STUDENT ABSENTEEISM: Pasco County School Board members call for added efforts to deal with students who miss too many days of classes.

CAMPUS SECURITY: A national organization rates the University of South Florida Tampa campus the least safe campus in Florida. USF rebuts the report.

TEACHER PROTESTS: Teachers at hundreds of schools across Florida hold a “walk-in” to bring attention to their demand for improved state funding of public education, WMNF reports. More from Panama City News Herald, St. Augustine Record, the Ledger.

SCHOOL DAYS: Parents in Palm Beach and Broward counties resist a proposal to have children return to classes ever earlier in August, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

HEALTHY SCHOOLS: The Miami-Dade County School Board discusses ways to share leftover cafeteria food with hungry children rather than throw it away, the Miami Times reports.

TEACHER TRAINING: The Flagler County school district joins with the University of North Florida to create a dual enrollment program aimed at preparing future teachers, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

AFTER MICHAEL: Bay County schools superintendent Bill Husfelt continues to bring attention to his district’s budget shortfall as it works to rebound from Hurricane Michael, the Panama City News Herald reports.

REVENUE SHARING: Palm Beach County School Board members adopt a resolution opposing a tax bill moving through the Florida House that would require districts to share referendum revenue with charter schools, the Palm Beach Post reports. The district currently is being sued by charter schools over its decision not to share its referendum funds.

CODE OF CONDUCT: The Collier County School Board considers expanding its zero tolerance policy relating to weapons on campus, to include “simulation” of gun use, the Naples Daily News reports.

EARLY EDUCATION: An annual national report on prekindergarten gives Florida’s program low marks for quality and funding, noting the state spends less on pre-k now than a decade ago, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

SAVE OUR SCHOOLS: Several Duval County residents attend a forum to voice disapproval of a proposal to transform certain high schools into grade 6-12 campuses, WJAX reports.

BAD ACTS: A Citrus County school bus driver is fired on accusations he shut the bus doors on a student’s arms, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

TODAY: Senate Appropriations, 9 a.m. (On the agenda: SB 7070 vouchers, SB 770 workforce education, SB 190 Bright Futures scholarships)

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  2. Jeff Eakins and MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough's last two superintendents, were hired from inside the school system. So have all others since 1967. Times staff
    Go to the school district website before 8 a.m. Monday to state your case.
  3. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  4. The Pasco County school district would rezone the Seven Oaks subdivision from the Wiregrass Ranch High feeder pattern to the Cypress Creek High feeder pattern, beginning in the 2020-21 school year. Pasco County school district
    The Seven Oaks subdivision is the primary target for rezoning.
  5. Fortify Florida is a new app that allows for anonymous reporting of suspected school threats. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  7. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  8. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  9. This image from a Pinellas County Schools video shows an armed police officer running to respond to a fictional active shooter.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.