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State revenue shortfalls raise education funding concerns

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

The Florida Education Association took a hard stance in a Friday news conference against the state’s ongoing approach to school reopening, criticizing the Governor’s Office and Department of Education for creating chaos, confusion and instability. The group argued for changes to the state’s education funding strategy and its rules for reporting COVID-19 cases in schools. State officials found the association’s request rather unusual, though. Read on for that story and more education news.

The FEA urged the state to extend the funding waivers set forth in the department’s July reopening order. The union is suing to throw out that very same order. • The Florida School Finance Officers Association has joined the call to protect district budgets for the rest of 2020-21, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The difficulty: Florida has suffered a “massive economic hit” because of the coronavirus pandemic. Incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls said to expect cuts in education funding.

Teaching of in-person and online students at the same time has proven frustrating and exhausting for many teachers. Pinellas County educators aren’t willing to say say they’re “completely incapable” of accomplishing the task, as the district has suggested.

Virtual schooling alone remains a challenge of its own. Okaloosa County elementary parents find the approach difficult to manage, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports. • Teachers and parents of children with special needs say it’s disruptive and a barrier to education, the Miami Herald reports. • The Volusia County School Board has instructed its superintendent to fix the district’s remote learning model, which has received criticisms from students, parents and teachers, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Not to mention Zoom bombing. A Broward County high school class got videobombed by a live sex act, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

And some parents who need to mind their manners. A Boca Raton teacher reminded them that classes can see what they’re wearing (or not wearing) and hear what they’re saying during some remote classes, the Miami Herald reports.

COVID-19 cases continue to climb. Florida’s universities haven’t raised many red flags yet, though Florida State has issued a stern warning to students who test positive and continue to socialize. • Cases are beginning to bunch up in certain Tampa Bay area communities. • More information has emerged about a Manatee County principal’s suspension for coming to school while awaiting a virus test result, the Bradenton Herald reports. • A second Orange County high school closed its in-person classes after 10 positive cases were identified on campus, WESH reports. • A small number of cases have caused large numbers of quarantines in Manatee and Sarasota schools, the Herald-Tribune reports.

The possibilities have Palm Beach County residents concerned as they reopen schools. The majority of Palm Beach students are expected to continue distance learning when classrooms reopen, the Sun-Sentinel reports. There’s anxiety among parents who are sending their kids back, the Palm Beach Post reports. A group of Palm Beach teachers sued to stop schools from reopening, WPEC reports. More from the Palm Beach Post.

Varsity cheerleaders attend a football game on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, between Wiregrass Ranch High School and St. Petersburg High School at St. Petersburg. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Schools have aimed to limit exposures by scaling back extracurriculars. Palm Beach County schools have opted out of state athletic competitions, the Palm Beach Post reports. • The Orange County school district decided to allow marching bands and cheerleaders to perform at football games, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The virus has exacerbated problems for Bay County homeless families, who already struggled through Hurricane Michael. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation voted to expand its aid to homeless students in the district, the Panama City News Herald reports.

Some south Florida schools have already opened. The Sun-Sentinel offers an inside look as others prepare to return.

Faulty air conditioning can lead to coronavirus spread. It’s a problem cropping up in some Duval County schools, the Florida Times-Union reports.

It’s time for FSA retakes. Some Polk County teens said they felt pressured to take the tests, even though other options exist, the Ledger reports.

Hurricane Sally shut down schools across north Florida. Escambia County schools will remain closed on Monday and Tuesday, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. Other area districts are looking into whether they need to schedule makeup days, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

Before you go ... Broward County teachers are among the latest to face the return to their classrooms, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Like colleagues across Florida, many have fears. Lyons Creek Middle School TV production teacher John LaSpina shared his views to the superintendent and School Board members on this 3-minute video. As Sun-Sentinel education reporter Scott Travis says on Twitter, “Tuesday should be an interesting meeting.”

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