Florida education news: Bonuses, student data, low-performing schools and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Hillsborough County assistant superintendent Tricia McManus teaches a third grade math class at James Elementary in April 2019. [Marlene Sokol | Times]
Hillsborough County assistant superintendent Tricia McManus teaches a third grade math class at James Elementary in April 2019. [Marlene Sokol | Times]
Published Aug. 5, 2019

TEACHER BONUSES: Can a Florida teacher with “content expert” status earn a new $4,000 “recruitment” Best and Brightest bonus simply by transferring schools? The Florida Department of Education says that might be possible.

STUDENT DATA: The Florida Department of Education rolls out its new student information portal containing all sorts of data intended to help law enforcement evaluate school threats and determine if the students need special attention. Questions about privacy and data mining immediately arise.

SCHOOL TAXES: All four Tampa Bay area school districts propose lower property tax rates for the new fiscal year.

SCHOOL GRADES: The state releases its latest list of persistently low performing schools, based on five years’ worth of school grades. Hillsborough County has the highest number, and a higher percentage of schools than other districts of its size.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: The Hillsborough County School Board kicks off its search for its next district leader.

BACK TO SCHOOL: A former Duval County teacher returns to the profession after spending time reading as a volunteer to low-income students and discovering she missed it, the Florida Times-Union reports.

VOLUNTEER TIME: Many Polk County teachers get to work setting up their classrooms even before their contracts — and their pay — resume for the new year, the Ledger reports.

TROUBLED CHARTER: Manatee County school district officials learn the ousted principal of a recently taken-over charter school had been earning more than twice the average salary of a district middle school principal, the Herald-Tribune reports.

BAKER ACT: More Florida students were Baker Acted in 2017-18 than ever before, WPTV reports.

JUST BUSINESS: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry defends two of his political advisers’ efforts to win business helping the Duval County School Board lobby the city government over a tax referendum dispute, Florida Politics reports. Some other political leaders have called the efforts a “shakedown.”

IN COURT: A Miami-Dade County student-athlete announces plans to sue the Florida High School Athletic Association over his football ban and lacrosse suspension, CBS Miami reports. • An Escambia County charter school files suit against a former teacher who wants to enroll her two children there, saying the woman threatened gun violence against the principal, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

WELCOME BACK: Collier County superintendent Kamela Patton welcomes faculty and staff to the new academic year with dreamcatchers, reminding them to keep in mind student dreams, as well as their own, the Naples Daily News reports.

ACTIVE SHOOTER DRILLS: St. Johns County school guards and resource officers get training in how to respond to a campus shooter, even if no one else is with them, the St. Augustine Record reports.

EYE OF THE STORM: Bay County school district employees spend time during summer break learning how to operate evacuation shelters, in case another hurricane threatens, the Panama City News Herald reports.

CODE OF CONDUCT: The Polk County School Board bans “sexually suggestive behavior” on school property and at school activities, the Ledger reports.

FREE LUNCH: Thousands of Palm Beach County students could lose access to the federal free school meal program under new guidelines, the Palm Beach Post reports. • Expansion of the free lunch program in St. Johns County schools led to improved attendance and student performance, the St. Augustine Record reports.

POWER STRUGGLE: A Duval County state lawmaker will propose legislation ending the direct election of Duval County School Board members, Florida Politics reports. Rep. Jason Fischer once served on the board, but often was in the minority on issues.

REINSTATED: A Palm Beach County high school principal accused of improper grade changing will return to his position, CBS 12 reports.

BAD ACTS: A 23-year-old Palm Beach County substitute teacher is arrested on accusations of having sexual relations with a 16-year-old student she had been tutoring, the Miami Herald reports. • A former Broward County school district child care monitor is arrested on accusations of child pornography possession, the Sun-Sentinel reports.