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Florida education news: Tax sharing, USF merger, student discipline and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.

TAX SHARING: Facing strong opposition from Democrats, whose votes were needed to advance the House bill, the Senate withdrew a piece of the 2019 tax bill that would have required school districts to share local-option property tax revenue with charter schools. More from Sun-Sentinel.

USF MERGER: Florida lawmakers send a bill to the governor that would preserve the independence of the University of South Florida’s three campuses as they consolidate some operations. More from Florida Politics.

FINANCIAL LITERACY: After six tries to establish a financial literacy graduation requirement for Florida high school students, backers get a partial win as lawmakers approve a measure requiring high schools to offer the course as an elective, Florida Politics reports. More on the workforce education bill from News Service of Florida.

PROM PROBLEM: Students at two Hernando County high schools get word they might have been exposed to Hepatitis A at their prom venue.

GRADUATION MILESTONE: At 16, Drew Falkowitz becomes USF’s youngest graduate since it opened in 1956.

PRIVATIZATION FIGHT: Labor activists protest a proposal to privatize Hillsborough County school custodial work, WMNF reports.

TEACHERS WITH GUNS: A day after lawmakers sent a bill to Gov. Ron DeSantis allowing classroom teachers to participate in Florida’s armed guardian program, district leaders across the state issued statements indicating they aren’t on board with the idea. “In order for teachers and staff to be armed in any school, our school district would have to opt-in to this part of the Guardian program. WE HAVE NO PLANS TO OPT-IN,” Hillsborough superintendent Jeff Eakins wrote in a letter to parents. “There are no plans under consideration to allow any Pasco County Schools employees to carry firearms on school board property, unless they are employed for the specific purpose of protecting the security of students and staff,” Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning said in his own statement. “In spring 2018, the Pinellas County School Board acted to allow only sworn law enforcement officers and highly trained school safety officers ... to be armed on campus. The action ... remains the position of Pinellas County Schools,” Pinellas superintendent Mike Grego wrote to parents. • Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony, a Gov. Ron DeSantis appointee, announces his opposition to having teachers with guns in schools, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Several central Florida school districts say they have no plan to allow teachers to carry guns, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • As we have noted, lawmakers have stressed districts are not required to participate in the program.

STUDENT DISCIPLINE: The Duval County school district suspends more African-American students than any other district in Florida, WJAX reports.

BRIGHT FUTURES: Minority students could suffer most if state lawmakers change eligibility requirements for the Bright Futures scholarship, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

SOFTWARE STRUGGLES: The Manatee County School Board delays its plan to hire a consultant to help sort out its lengthy and expensive effort to implement a new business software system, the Bradenton Herald reports.

COMMUNITY PROJECT: A Polk County elementary school gets a new health clinic as part of its initiative to become a community school, the Ledger reports.

WATCHFUL EYE: Palm Beach County journalism students get recognition from the Palm Beach Post.

SCHOOL THREATS: A Marion County mom is arrested on allegations of threatening to shoot up her son’s school over his suspension, the Associated Press reports.

BAD ACTS: A Miami-Dade County high school student is arrested after allegedly kicking a police officer who was trying to break up a cafeteria fight, the Miami Herald reports. • An Escambia County school paraprofessional stabbed his parents before being shot to death by his father, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

TODAY: Senate session, 10 a.m. (On third reading: HB 7123 taxation, HB 807 civics education) • House session, 11 a.m.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup.

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