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Florida education news: Student testing, school construction, public meetings and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Ninth-graders at Land O'Lakes High School wait in March 2015 to get started on the writing part of the Florida Standards Assessments. [Courtesy of Pasco County School District]
Published Jun. 20

TESTING: Saying the spring testing season caused too much stress in schools, Pasco County district leaders begin a review of all student assessments with an eye toward eliminating as many as possible.

CONSTRUCTION: Pinellas County schools see $158.5 million in improvement projects during the summer break. • Schools in Palm Beach County get summer updates, the Palm Beach Post reports.

PUBLIC MEETINGS: The Hillsborough County School Board decides to televise two upcoming workshops of high interest — its superintendent search and student discipline — breaking from recent practice of keeping the cameras off during working sessions where no votes are planned.

VOUCHERS: State Sen. Darryl Rouson will file legislation to bar schools that accept state vouchers or tax credit scholarships from discriminating against gay students. • Central Florida parents write letters to the Florida Department of Education criticizing the performance of private schools receiving tax credit scholarships. The department responds that it does not control private schools, and the parents are free to transfer their children, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

SCHOOL LEADERS: The annual principal shuffle continues in Pasco County, with Gulf Middle School getting a new principal.

SECURITY: Three more Florida school district adopt the state’s school armed guardian program, which now allows classroom teachers to participate, WJCT reports. St. Johns County officials note they plan to use only trained security guards. • Duval County school officials get an update on the status of security efforts, WJAX reports.

WORKFORCE TRAINING: Florida Chamber of Commerce look to apprenticeships to help prepare students for jobs after school, Florida Politics reports.

TAXES: The Duval County school district continues to refine its capital projects sales tax proposal as the Jacksonville City Council delays action on whether to place the issue before voters, First Coast News reports. • The Clay County School Board takes steps to call a sales tax referendum for school construction and maintenance projects, Clay Today reports.

SCHOOL DAYS: The Palm Beach County School Board reinstates Veterans Day as a student holiday, though it will remain a teacher work day, the Palm Beach Post reports.

COACHES’ PAY: Prosecutors find no criminal wrongdoing in allegations of improper payments to Santa Rosa County school athletic coaches, but suggest a lack of district oversight in the process, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

COMMUNITY SCHOOLS: A school serving one of Leon County’s poorest regions will become a community school offering additional health and social services to students and families, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

IN COURT: A lawyer threatens the Alachua County school district with a $100 million lawsuit connected to allegations of improper behavior within the district’s transportation department, WCJB reports.

EARLY LEARNING: The chair of Polk County’s Early Learning Coalition steps down amid concerns she exceeded her statutory term limit, the Ledger reports.

L-O-O-P-H-O-L-E: A Palm Beach County boy crashed the Scripps national spelling bee, participating without qualifying, the Palm Beach Post reports.

BAD ACTS: A fired Citrus County substitute teacher is sentenced to eight years for illicit interactions with two teen boys, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  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.