1. Gradebook

Florida education news: School counselors, testing, teacher appreciation and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Gov. Ron DeSantis steps in when Hillsborough School Board Member Karen Perez questions his wife, Casey DeSantis, on funding for school counselors, May 16 at Roland Park K-8 School. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published May 17

COUNSELORS: Gov. Ron DeSantis came to a Hillsborough County school to support his wife’s youth mental health initiative. But things got testy when a School Board member challenged the governor over putting adequate resources into the schools rather than into agencies and programs.

TESTING: Two freshman Republican House members suggest Florida should consider reducing student testing. • The College Board announces changes to the way it calculates SAT scores, to take into account students’ environment, NPR reports.

TEACHER APPRECIATION GONE AWRY: Clark Elementary School in Hillsborough County held a catered lunch to celebrate its teachers. Dozens got ill, as one of the food preparers carried Norovirus.

TOP STUDENTS: Pinellas County private schools celebrate their valedictorians and salutatorians.

BIG GIFT: A Tampa Catholic alumnus gives his alma mater $7 million, reportedly the largest gift ever to a Florida Catholic elementary or high school.

SAVE OUR SCHOOLS: The Florida Education Association plans a weekend gathering in Orlando to try to unify opposition to what they see as the Legislature’s attack on public education, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The union released a report contending Florida’s new voucher program could cost school districts $1 billion in state funding over five years, Florida Politics reports.

TURNAROUNDS: About 30 Orange County high school seniors take advantage of their last chance school to make it through to graduation, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

TEACHER BONUSES: Leon County superintendent Rocky Hanna criticizes the state’s new criteria for the Best and Brightest teacher award, calling the new model a “train wreck,” WFSU reports.

MATH LESSONS: Florida lawmakers’ efforts to acknowledge students’ struggle with high school algebra might hurt teens’ effort to get into a university, Florida Phoenix reports.

LOOKING BACK: A group of Florida ‘influencers’ suggest the Legislature did not accomplish critical education legislation during session, the Miami Herald reports.

GRADUATION DAY: The costs of security for Palm Beach County high school graduation ceremonies has increased the price tag by $79,000, the Palm Beach Post reports. Some schools are selling VIP seats at the events to offset the expenses, the Post reports.

TAXES: Duval County School Board leaders struggle to find support at Jacksonville City Hall to place a school district tax referendum on a special election ballot, Florida Politics reports.

SCHOOL THREATS: A New York middle school relaxes as it discovers an online school threat was directed at a Polk County campus and not its own, the Daily Freeman reports.

STUDENT SAFETY: The Duval County school district extends its contract with a digital suicide prevention service, the Florida Times-Union reports.

NO FREE LUNCHES: A Sarasota County charter school receives parent complaints after it does not give hot lunches to students whose meal accounts had run out, the Charlotte Sun reports. They got cheese sandwiches instead.

NEW SCHOOLS: The Santa Rosa County school district prepares to break ground on its first new school project since 2007, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

SUPERINTENDENTS: Interim Indian River County superintendent Susan Moxley reaches a contract deal with the School Board to begin work Wednesday, TC Palm reports.

LAND FOR SALE: The Lake County school district will sell 30 acres of what used to be a high school agriculture farm, the Daily Commercial reports.

LABOR NEWS: Representatives for the Volusia County school district and teachers union fail to finalize contract terms and seek to return to the bargaining table, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

WHAT’S IN A NAME? The namesake of Palm Beach County’s noted School of the Arts offered $1 million to add “and Sciences” to the name. He has abandoned the proposal amid furious opposition, the Palm Beach Post reports.

SELF-EVALUATION: Lee County School Board members say they’re not doing such a good job, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

TOO HOT: Six Escambia County elementary school students are hospitalized after they pass out while wearing heavy costumes for a history presentation, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

BAD ACTS: An Orlando Science Charter School employee is arrested on accusations of soliciting nude photos from students, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

TODAY: Gov. Ron DeSantis visits Sarasota High School for a bill signing, 10:30 a.m.

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.