Florida education news: School improvement, campus security, student grades and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Ariel Bell, 26, attended Van Buren Middle School for sixth grade. He will return to the school, now part of Van Buren K-8, to teach music this year. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
Ariel Bell, 26, attended Van Buren Middle School for sixth grade. He will return to the school, now part of Van Buren K-8, to teach music this year. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
Published July 22

IMPROVEMENT PLANS: Hillsborough County school district officials pledge to continue their emphasis on improving academic performance at schools in the poorest neighborhoods, even as superintendent Jeff Eakins heads for the exit.

OUSTED: Former Pinellas County superintendent Clayton Wilcox resigns under fire from his post as superintendent of North Carolina’s second-largest school district. His departure comes the same week that former Hillsborough superintendent MaryEllen Elia announces her plans to leave her job as New York education commissioner.

GRADE CHANGES: The Pasco County School Board positions itself to give teachers more authority in changing student grades after report cards have been issued.

TOP TEACHER: Florida Teacher of the Year Dakeyan Graham of Hillsborough’s King High School begins to craft a message to deliver statewide as he serves a year as a state ambassador of teaching.

“TOTAL LOSS”: An eight-classroom building at McLane Middle School in Brandon is destroyed in a weekend fire that appeared to be caused by lightning.

SCHOOL SECURITY: Some Florida school districts and law enforcement agencies have yet to comply with state security laws as they argue over responsibility, the Associated Press reports. More from the Sun-Sentinel. • Citrus County school guards participate in a school shooter active drill to prepare for the worst, the Citrus County Chronicle reports. • Broward County schools will beef up their security efforts for the new school year, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

SCIENCE LESSONS: The Polk County school district will look for ways to increase their higher level math and science offerings, the Ledger reports.

TURNAROUNDS: A struggling Polk County middle school revises its improvement plan in search of better student results, the Ledger reports.

JOB HUNTING: A Manatee County School Board member applies to lead Santa Fe College, the Bradenton Herald reports.

DRIVER EDUCATION: Funding shrinks for Florida school-based driver education as traffic citations decrease, but the course remains in high demand, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

SCHOOL LEADERSHIP: The Marion County school district scales back its annual principal shift, though some changes still come amid state demands at campuses with low scores, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

BONUSES: Teacher union officials predict discontent with a new state bonus program for “highly effective” teachers at low-performing Title I schools, the Herald-Tribune reports.

NOW CLOSED: Parents sending their children to a Clay County private school seek answers as the school is evicted from its site over unpaid rent, WJXT reports.

PROPERTY DEBATE: Monroe County school district leaders discuss whether to use a site for a transportation center or employee housing, the Key West Citizen reports.

BAD ACTS: A former Palm Beach County teacher is arrested on accusations of trying to set up a sex encounter with a 10-year-old girl, WPTV reports.