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Florida education news: USF consolidation, school tax proposals and more fallout from vetoes

A roundup of news from around the state.
CHRIS URSO   |   Times
University of South Florida St. Petersburg student Ben Rothering walks on campus Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law allowing the school to become a "branch" campus that retains autonomy over budgets, hiring and curriculum when the USF system consolidates in 2020.
CHRIS URSO | Times University of South Florida St. Petersburg student Ben Rothering walks on campus Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law allowing the school to become a "branch" campus that retains autonomy over budgets, hiring and curriculum when the USF system consolidates in 2020.
Published Jun. 26

CONSOLIDATION: The best the University of South Florida St. Petersburg can hope for under consolidation — to retain autonomy over budgets, curriculum and hiring — was signed into law Monday by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

VETO: More medical schools were established at other state funded universities recently, so Gov. Ron DeSantis cut $1.7 million in funding toward the one at the University of South Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Another veto leaves Flagler College in St. John’s County about $1 million short in its efforts to improve and protect the Hotel Ponce de Leon, which suffered damage in recent hurricanes, the St. Augustine Record reports.

BANNED BOOKS: St. Lucie County schools continued using books that were found by administrators to have racial and ethnic biases, the TC Palm reports.

FAKE TESTS: In two weeks, Volusia County school officials will release the findings of an investigation into why 336 fake Advanced Placement exams were given to students, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

READING: A literacy tutor in Palm Beach County uses positive affirmations to teach girls to read, the Palm Beach Post reports.

TEACHER PAY: Like his opponent in the race for governor, Gov. Ron DeSantis is looking to pay new teachers more, the Florida Phoenix reports. The Orange County School Board on Tuesday approved a salary package that many teachers oppose, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

SCHOOL TAX: Support for a Duval County school tax fell short Tuesday, with only four of 19 Jacksonville City Council members agreeing to go through with a referendum, the Times-Union reports. More from News4Jax. Clay County school officials are considering a sales tax, too, to fix aging schools and build news ones, News4Jax reports.

BAD ACTS: A private school teacher in Fort Myers will spend 30 months in prison and be required to register has a sex offender after pleading no contest to having sex with a student, the News-Press reports. A Lake County public school teacher was fired Monday for allegedly spraying an autistic student with a water bottle to make him follow instructions, the Daily Commercial reports.

ICYMI: Tuesday’s Florida education news roundup

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins, shown at Mort Elementary School in 2016, is retiring effective June 30. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
    Jeff Eakins, the current superintendent, is retiring, effective June 30.
  2. Hillsborough county parents can check the district's website for their child's bus route and their school's bus schedule. Visit sdhc.k12.fl.us, click the link under "Preparing for Back to School," then find the links for "Bus Schedule" and "Bus Availability." For more information, call (813) 982-5500. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times]
    Our running list of the candidates to replace superintendent Jeff Eakins includes top educators with a wide range of experience.
  3. Tricia McManus, an assistant superintendent for the Hillsborough County School District, rolled out the district's new Achievement Zone plan for struggling schools at a community meeting in 2018. The word "zone" was removed early on. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
    Tricia McManus will become a deputy superintendent in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
  4. A vigil at Pine Trails Park in Parkland for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. Some schools have already closed for the holidays, but everyone should be off by the end of the day Dec. 20. [Times (2015)]
    Some schools are closing for the holidays this week; others won’t be done for a few days. Then it’s lights out until early January.
  6. This Feb. 19 photo shows a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File]
    The grand jury said districts are creating “unnecessary chaos” and have become “experts at data manipulation.”
  7. Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis with Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Sheriff Chad Chronister speaking at Hillsborough High School on Thursday, Dec. 12. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    If students feel supported, educators say, schools will be safer and more productive
  8. Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, presents his bill on civics education to the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee on Dec. 11, 2019. The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport,’ sponsor Rep. Ben Diamond reminds colleagues.
  9. Haley Manigold, second from left, and Armwood High School classmates Maria Medina and Madison Harvey take a photo with Sen. Tom Lee, who is sponsoring their legislation, and teacher Tony Pirotta.  They presented their bill in the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 9, 2019. [EMILY L. MAHONEY  |  Times Staff]
    Armwood High senior Haley Manigold discusses her effort to convince lawmakers to adopt testing legislation.
  10. Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
    Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said she thinks Republican leaders want to keep the number under wraps because it points to the controversial program’s “failure.”
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