1. Gradebook

Florida education news: Vouchers, budgets, guns in school and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
SCOTT KEELER | Times Left to Right: Florida Senator Manny Diaz, Jr., R- Hialeah, Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, watch the passage of a school voucher bill in the Florida House, Tuesday, April 30, 2019.
Published May 1

VOUCHERS: After heated debate, the Florida House approves legislation creating a new school voucher and modifying the funding for related tax-credit scholarships. Former Gov. Jeb Bush, whose own voucher program was found unconstitutional, was on hand for the vote. The bill also included several other provisions including a revamping of teacher bonuses. A lawsuit could be coming, Florida Phoenix reports. More from News Service of Florida, Orlando Sentinel.

BUDGETS: The Florida Legislature reaches agreement on its budget of about $90 billion, but will have to extend session to hold a final vote. More from GateHouse.

GUNS IN SCHOOLS: A Pasco County school resource officer’s gun fires accidentally in the middle of a crowded middle school cafeteria. No one is hurt. But the incident is highlighted by some lawmakers as a reason to reject legislation that would allow teachers to participate in the state’s armed guardian program during debate over that bill, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

GRADUATION GARB: The Florida Legislature sends a bill to the governor to permit high school students in the military to wear their dress blues during commencement.

SUE YOU: The former leader of the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg has sued the USF system and president Judy Genshaft over what she says was a forced resignation.

LEADERSHIP: Hernando County superintendent John Stratton revamps his administrative team. • Hillsborough County superintendent Jeff Eakins gives himself high marks in his self evaluation.

TAXES: About 200 teachers rally in Palm Beach County against proposed legislation that would require school districts to share local-option property tax revenue with charter schools, WLRN reports. More from the Palm Beach Post. • The Duval County School Board will hold a special meeting, followed by public town hall sessions, to discuss a proposed local sales tax referendum to support school construction and renovation projects, the Florida Times-Union reports.

SUSPENDED SUPERINTENDENT: A lawyer for Gov. Ron DeSantis contends that suspended Okaloosa County superintendent Mary Beth Jackson was aware of child abuse occurring in the district for years, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

STUDENT DISCIPLINE: The Broward County School Board takes steps to revise its controversial Promise program, which aimed to get students counseling and support rather than sending them to jail for minor offenses, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

DRINKING WATER: Some central Florida school districts test their water for lead despite having no state requirement to do so, WFTV reports.

WHERE’S MY KID? The Collier County school district unveils a new smart phone application that allows parents to track their children’s school bus, the Naples Daily News reports.

LABOR NEWS: Lake-Sumter State College adjunct faculty vote to unionize, the Daily Commercial reports.

SCHOOL THREATS: Law enforcement search for the person who posted a graffiti threat of violence at an Okaloosa County high school, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

TODAY: Senate session, 10 a.m. (On special order: SB 1412 taxation) • House session, 10:30 p.m. (On third reading: HB 1127 do not hire teacher list, SB 7030 school security/armed teachers)

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup.


  1. 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
    As expected, the union rejected the district’s plan to add work for middle and high school teachers in exchange for more money.
  2. Pinellas County teachers and their allies rallied at major intersections in 2012 to protest legislative proposals. [Jim Damaske, Times]
    Details are still scant, but the House’s tone was one of being fiscally cautious as they evaluate DeSantis’ pitch to raise base teacher pay.
  3. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2018) Hernando County School District office, 919 N Broad St., Brooksville
    Hernando County debates the pros and cons of superintendent John Stratton’s recommendation.
  4. The University of South Florida revealed a new plan for the school's consolidation Thursday morning. Unlike the first plan presented in September, it promises a high level of authority to leaders on campuses in St. Petersburg, shown here, and Sarasota. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
    A new proposal also aims to strengthen programs at the university’s St. Petersburg and Sarasota locations.
  5. Fifth grade teacher Michelle Brandon is one of four Hudson Elementary School teachers to be removed after two weeks of classes because of her state VAM score. Here she reviews classroom rules with students on the first day of school 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. [SKIP O'ROURKE   | Times]
    It’s unclear if there will be any proposed changes to this method for measuring teachers’ impact on their students’ performance, despite complaints.
  7. A deputy's Sig Sauer P320, similar to this Glock 19, discharged in the cafeteria of a Wesley Chapel school April 30. The bullet lodged in the wall behind him. The deputy has been fired.
    Cpl. Jonathan Cross was lifting his pistol up and down out of its holster when it went off, Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
  8. Shirley Joseph is named superintendent of Madison County public schools. Madison County school district
    The previous superintendent resigned amid conflicts with the School Board.
  9. In this image from a Pinellas County school district video, former School Board member Lee Benjamin motions to someone he knows while sitting with family members during at 2013 ceremony to name the Northeast High School gymnasium in his honor. Mr. Benjamin was the school's first basketball coach in 1954 and later became Northeast's principal in a long career with Pinellas schools that included 14 years on the School Board. He died Wednesday at age 92. Pinellas County Schools
    A teacher, coach and principal at Northeast High, he rose to district administrator and served on the School Board. Mr. Benjamin died Wednesday at age 92.
  10. Hillsborough County School Board member Melissa Snively Times staff
    Board member Melissa Snively wanted to honor a community pioneer.