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Florida education news: Graduation requirements, mental health, reading lessons and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Students at Tampa Bay Technical High School work toward industry certification in the school's auto body shop. [Times | 2017]
Students at Tampa Bay Technical High School work toward industry certification in the school's auto body shop. [Times | 2017]
Published Jun. 14, 2019

GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS: The Pasco County school district backs away from a proposal to require every high school student complete at least one college-credit bearing course or industry certification before graduation. Superintendent Kurt Browning says he still has the idea as a longer-term goal. • Florida State University becomes the largest university in the nation to require students to have a hands-on learning experience outside of the classroom, Florida State University News reports.

MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS: Bay County school district leaders worry that children stressed by Hurricane Michael and its aftermath face continued mental health problems that demand attention in a community with fewer services than before.

SUMMER DRILLS: More details emerge about the death of Hillsborough County teen Hezekiah B. Walters, who collapsed during football conditioning drills at Middleton High School. Other school districts take a look at their athletic safety protocols as a result of the incident.

SCHOOL LEADERSHIP: The Pasco County school district names three new principals, including its first black male principal in nearly 50 years.

A ‘DIFFERENT DIRECTION’: St. Petersburg College’s Institute for Strategic Policy Decisions lets go its longtime leader amid unannounced plans to refocus the center’s efforts.

LIFE LESSONS: Hernando High School FFA students credit the agriculture-based club with helping them find direction for their futures.

HELPING HAND: A Hebrew charter school in Broward County offers to accept students from a similar school in North Carolina that faced financial troubles, Jewish News Syndicate reports.

TEACHER PAY: About 50 Brevard County students are expected to march for increased teacher salaries, Florida Today reports.

TAXES: Duval County leaders continue to posture ahead of a vote on when the school district may hold a sales tax referendum, Florida Politics reports. The situation is a bit different in Duval than other counties, where placing a school district question before voters is more straightforward, because Duval has a county charter that grants local government more discretion in creating the ballot. • A 7-year-old speaker at a public hearing on the tax issue made a big impression on the debate, the Florida Times-Union reports.

LEARNING TO READ: Franklin County charter school third graders outperform their district school peers on state exams, leading district officials to seek ways to better help the students, the Apalachicola Times reports. Absenteeism appears to be a factor, officials say.

GOPHER TORTOISES: Marion Technical College’s plan to expand its commercial driver’s license program practice space is stalled by the appearance of protected gopher tortoises, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

LOGO CHALLENGE: The University of Texas tells Hillsborough County’s Lennard High School to change its Longhorn logo, saying it’s too close to the university’s trademarked look, WFLA reports.

CLOSER LOOK: The embattled Mason Classical Academy charter school in Collier County calls for its own separate investigation into mismanagement allegations against it, the Naples Daily News reports.

MISUSED FUNDS: A new report indicates the University of Central Florida misspent about $100 million since 2010, although some former officials are refusing to cooperate with the investigation, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

BAD ACTS: A Charlotte County school resource officer resigns amid allegations he showed up drunk to an event with students, the Charlotte Sun reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup

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  1. Custodian James Berrien, (center) and Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins are pictured at Cypress Creek Elementary for the opening of a time capsule buried in 1991 when Eakins was a 4th-grade teacher. It was the first year that Berrien, present at the burial of the capsule, worked at the school. Febuary 27. Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 in Ruskin.  [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  2. Hillsborough school superintendent Jeff Eakins holds a time capsule at Cypress Creek Elementary Thursday in Ruskin. Eakins, who retires soon, was a fourth-grade teacher at the school when the capsule was buried in 1991. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  3. Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has pushed for changes to Florida's restraint and seclusion laws for nearly a decade.  (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) [Associated Press (2016)]
  4. Health officials recommend washing hands frequently and sanitizing toys, clothes and other items as often as possible to avoid the spread of viruses.
  5. An artist's rendering shows one view of Tyrone Middle School in St. Petersburg after a $28 million renovation. Work is expected to start in February 2021. The Pinellas County School Board approved a contract with Rowe Architects Inc. to work on the project. [Pinellas County Schools]
  6. Graduates enjoy fireworks at Bright House Field.
  7. A bill to merge Florida Polytechnic into the University of Florida keeps advancing, even as most lawmakers say they don't approve.  [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2018]
  8. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D- Orlando  [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  9. More than 100 people turned out Jan. 15, 2019, to give the Pasco County School Board their thoughts on the district's policy and procedures for transgender student rights. [JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  10. Hudson High student Kaitlyn Helzer introduces herself to a curious corn snake during the Nature Coast Envirothon, held Feb. 19 at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Sumter County. Students from Pasco, Hernando, Sumter and Citrus counties tested their knowledge on aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife while vying for a spot at state competition. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
  11. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020. [JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ  |  Times]
  12. Teacher Dequita Parker guides youngsters to lunch from the playground Sept. 20 at the PromiseLand Early Childhood Education Center in Tampa.
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