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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]
Published Jun. 14

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

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    Steve Hegarty spent 10 years as Hillsborough schools public information officer before taking the police department post.
  2. Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins, left, looks on while school board chair Tammy Shamburger speaks on newly raised concerns of a undiscovered cemetery for indigent African Americans that may be within the vicinity of King High School in Tampa, Florida on Friday, October 18, 2019.  OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. Joanne Glenn, Pasco eSchool principal, addresses the eSchool faculty on opening day of teacher preplanning week in 2018. Pasco eSchool is launching its first online dual-enrollment courses in conjunction with Pasco-Hernando State College in the second semester.  GAIL DIEDERICH | Special to the Times
    Students will have access to two sections of two courses — microapplications and public speaking.
  4. Challenger K-8 School students, from left, Jeremy Gonzalez, 13, Jackson Hoyt, 12, Benjamin Harper, 12, and Gianni Labdar, 12, finish meals consisting of fresh salads, quesadillas and nachos during a lunch service on Oct. 15 at the school in Spring Hill during the county's Fresh from Florida Plate Day event. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Starting a farm-to-school initiative has been more complicated than district officials expected.
  5. 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]
    Legislators who were critical of the original plan say a new approach revealed Thursday is more in line with their expectations.
  6. Florida K-12 Chancellor Jacob Oliva presents the state's second draft of academic standards revisions during an Oct. 17, 2017, session at Jefferson High School in Tampa. Gov. Ron DeSantis called for the effort in an executive order to remove the Common Core from Florida schools. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times staff
    ‘Our third draft will look different from our second,’ the chancellor explains.
  7. Meaghan Leto, (center facing street), a speech therapist from Twin Lakes Elementary, protests over pay with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association outside of a School Board meeting.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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