Florida education news: Homelessness, absenteeism, Fair Day and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
The former Curtis Fundamental Elementary School building, Clearwater, may soon be part of the Homeless Empowerment Program campus. SCOTT KEELER | Times
The former Curtis Fundamental Elementary School building, Clearwater, may soon be part of the Homeless Empowerment Program campus. SCOTT KEELER | Times
Published July 29, 2019

HELPING THE HOMELESS: The Pinellas County school district has struggled to find entry level workers such as bus drivers. The city of Clearwater has long faced a homelessness problem. Together, they join with a nonprofit organization with a new plan to tackle both situations.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES: Florida universities look to overcome cultural differences to bring international students the counseling services they might need but be reluctant to request. • Florida International University psychologists are asking questions about how the state’s schools are expected to implement a new requirement of five hours of annual mental health education, the Florida International University news service reports.

FAIR DAY: The Hillsborough County school district considers expanding its commitment to giving students a day off to attend the State Fair.

BEING THERE: The Pasco County School Board wants to take more steps to address chronic absenteeism.

BACK TO WORK: The Florida Public Relations Employees Commission orders Florida Polytechnic University to rehire workers it deemed improperly released because of their efforts to unionize the faculty.

SETTLED: The Hillsborough County school district settles a lawsuit with its former human resources director, who claimed she had been defamed by district administration.

SURVEY SAYS ... The Okeechobee County School Board decides to allow teachers to serve as armed guards after a Facebook survey indicated community support for the idea, the Miami Herald reports.

HOW MUCH? The Lee County school district prepares to spend nearly $100 million to build its next high school, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

SCHOOL SECURITY: Alachua County school district officials say they are in compliance with state security requirements and have not been contacted by a state grand jury to suggest otherwise, the Gainesville Sun reports.

TAX BATTLE: The Jacksonville City Council continues to demand answers to questions about a planned Duval County school district sales tax referendum, frustrating district leaders who say the council is improperly interfering in its affairs, the Florida Times-Union reports.

IN A PICKLE: Indian River County law enforcement investigate a case of someone throwing pickles at computers in an elementary school’s front office, TC Palm reports.

STUDENT VACCINATIONS: The number of Manatee County families requesting religious exemptions to required student shots is on the rise, the Bradenton Herald reports.

SUPERINTENDENTS: Marion County superintendent Heidi Maier says she will remain in office through the end of her term in November 2020, and not leave five months early as once suggested, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. Voters have decided to move to an appointed superintendent at the end of her tenure.

ADVANCED CLASSES: Half of Polk County high schools have seen a decrease in Advanced Placement math and science courses offered in the past five years, the Ledger reports. District officials say a rise in dual enrollment participation is part of the reason.

STILL HIRING: The Lee County school district continues to look for more teachers to fill core course positions, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

REASSIGNED: The former administrators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland have new jobs for the next school year, the Sun-Sentinel reports. The Broward County school district continues to investigate their actions in dealing with the February 2018 school shooting massacre that left 17 dead.

STUDENT DISCIPLINE: Some Miami-Dade County School Board members call for more data relating to the racial breakdown of student discipline and arrest decisions, the Miami New Times reports.

STILL REELING: Bay County schools are safe for students but still require many repairs months after Hurricane Michael ripped through the region, the Panama City News Herald reports.

SPORTS TRANSFERS: Palm Beach County high school football coaches raise concerns over the number of last-minute student-athlete transfers, suggesting oversight is too lax, the Palm Beach Post reports.

WHAT’S IN A NAME? The Hamilton County School Board renames its alternative school to “Hope Academy,” aiming to reduce the stigma that has been attached to attending there, the Suwannee Democrat reports.