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Florida education news: Test scores, teacher pay, alternative school and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Florida third graders must pass the state's annual reading test, or qualify for an exemption, to advance to fourth grade. [Dirk Shadd | Times]
Published Jun. 19

TEST SCORES: After years of improvement, Hernando County’s third grade reading scores took a slight downturn in the spring. Some parents worried. District officials said they’re looking into the reasons, but cautioned everyone not to panic. • A new National Bureau of Economic Research study of Florida public school students suggests that children exposed to air pollution are more likely to score lower on tests and also to be suspended from school, NC Policy Watch reports.

TEACHER PAY: Pasco County school district leaders revive a plan to boost teacher salaries by scaling back the number of teachers and having them lead more classes each day.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: An education research think tank warns against giving a state report on charter school test results too much — or too little — credence as proof that the schools are better than their district counterparts.

ALTERNATIVES: The management transition for a Hernando County alternative school goes more smoothly than expected, but more work remains.

SUPERINTENDENTS: The Volusia County School Board picks retired principal Tim Egnor as its interim superintendent, WFTV reports. Former state education commissioner Pam Stewart backed out at the last minute, amid concerns she had not spent enough time out of the state’s employ to qualify, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • The Flagler County School Board chairwoman stuns her colleagues and superintendent by calling for a new superintendent search, Flagler Live reports. • Charlotte County’s superintendent gets a raise, the Charlotte Sun reports. • The Broward County School Board rejects a proposal to make it more difficult for them to fire their superintendent, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

BOOK CHALLENGE: The Marion County school district investigates tea party complaints about the content of certain novels and makes recommendations about which titles should remain in schools, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: The Lake Wales charter school system moves to sue the Polk County school district over construction funding and student records, the Ledger reports.

CELL PHONES: The Sarasota County School Board advances a new policy to restrict student cell phone use in schools, stating they should be put away during school hours unless teachers authorize them for instructional purposes, the Herald-Tribune reports.

TAXES: The Duval County school district’s plan for a fall 2019 sales tax referendum dims, as government leaders lean toward a 2020 vote, the Florida Times-Union reports. More from Florida Politics.

OUT OF OFFICE: The Sarasota County school district’s chief operating officer, facing allegations of harassment, is placed on administrative leave, WWSB reports. More from the Herald-Tribune.

BRIGHT FUTURES: Gov. Ron DeSantis signs into law a measure making it harder to earn a Bright Futures scholarship, the News Service of Florida reports. More from the Orlando Sentinel.

RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION: A new federal report finds many school districts in Florida and elsewhere underreport the use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities, Education Week reports.

KIDS COUNT: The latest Kids County report says the quality of life has worsened for Florida children, though their education ranking remained unchanged, the Herald-Tribune reports.

SCHOOL LEADERSHIP: Seven Lake County schools get new principals, the Daily Commercial reports. • Three Leon County schools get new principals, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

BUDGET CUTS: The Madison County school district streamlines its staffing to meet its budget constraints, WCTV reports.

OUT OF BUSINESS: Parents who sent their children to a recently shuttered Polk County private school struggle to obtain their students’ official records, WFTS reports.

EXPANSION PLANS: The Martin County School Board makes another payment toward its purchase of the old Stuart News complex for administrative offices, TC Palm reports. • A Polk County Montessori school wins permission to add new buildings that will let its enrollment grow, the Ledger reports. • A proposed new middle school for the Palm Beach County community of Boynton Beach, once rejected by the state because of nearby open student seats, is back on track, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

JOB TRAINING: The Leon County school district and Tallahassee Community College reach an agreement to improve workforce development programs, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

BAD ACTS: A St. Lucie County high school teacher is accused of stealing more than $3,000 from her students, TC Palm reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Victoria Arriaga, left, does a letter-matching activity during Priscilla Perez's pre-kindergarten class at West Tampa Elementary School in 2018.  [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
    Reading proficiency, however, continues to be a challenge.
  2. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing $1 billion in increased teacher pay as part of a $91.4 billion state budget he put forward on Monday. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    The Florida governor also wants to hire hundreds of new corrections officers and spend $1.4 billion on hurricane recovery.
  3. Damian J. Fernandez, center, is introduced Monday as the new president of Eckerd College. He will succeed longtime president Donald R. Eastman III on July 1. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Damian Fernandez, 62, will succeed president Donald R. Eastman III, who steps down June 30 after leading the school for 19 years.
  4. The Florida Department of Education has approved another alternate assessment for third graders to demonstrate they read at or above grade level.
    The state also reminds schools to let those who struggle that scholarships for help are available.
  5. Trump supporters yell and show the middle finger at hecklers during Kimberly Guilfoyle's speech in the University Auditorium at the University of Florida on October 10, 2019. Guilfoyle spoke about her childhood as a first-generation American, her experiences as a lawyer and her support for the Trump family.  CHRIS DAY  |  Chris Day
    Student senator Ben Lima explains why he’s pursuing the charges against Michael Murphy.
  6. A fledgling movement of parents and community members in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are speaking out about sex education in public schools. They say the curriculums are not explicit enough. And they worry that kids don’t have enough information — or that they get it too late — to protect themselves against the risks of sexual intimacy. [Shutterstock] SHUTTERSTOCK
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks before the arrival of President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    University of Florida student body president Michael Murphy received a resolution for his impeachment Tuesday. Then the state’s Republican Party started an online petition and fundraiser.
  8. Henry "Shake" Washington is running for Hillsborough County School Board for the second time since 2018.
  9. Representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco, on the left, present their latest pay request to the district's bargaining team during talks on Oct. 24, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Officials from both sides say a deal could emerge as early as next week.
  10. A roundup of stories from around the state.
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