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Facing job cuts, dubious raises, some wonder when the ‘year of the teacher’ starts

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

2020 was supposed to be Florida’s ‘year of the teacher,’ to hear some state leaders tell it. They spoke of the importance that classroom educators play in children’s long-term success, and promised pay raises to show respect for the profession. Things aren’t working out quite that way. Read on for the latest.

Some districts are struggling to put together meaningful pay plans. Many can’t reach the targeted $47,500 minimum salary that Gov. Ron DeSantis called for, or find money to offer increases to their most veteran instructors. Yet approved plans are due to Tallahassee by Oct. 1.

Hillsborough County faces the added pressure of making budget cuts. That has led to recommendations for eliminating jobs and programs. School Board members criticized the idea, after hearing heated opposition from students and parents.

Trying to reopen classrooms amid a pandemic has only increased the anxiety. Hundreds of Miami-Dade residents and teachers raised concerns say as the School Board debated when to reopen their doors for in-person learning, the Miami Herald reports. The board eventually pushed back its scheduled start date. More from WLRN. • Broward County district officials said they’re ready for an Oct. 5 reopening, while employees disagreed, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Eventually, the board voted to delay its restart, too, the Herald reports. More from the Sun-Sentinel.

Teaching in-person and online students at the same time is not popular. A survey of Sarasota County teachers found 77 percent do not see it as an effective education approach, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Polk County teachers said they’re doing double duty by leading students in both places, and they’re not the only employees facing extra work because of the coronavirus, the Ledger reports. • Palm Beach County teachers talked about concerns leading classes this way as they returned to their schools, WLRN reports. • Already back on campuses, Alachua County teachers say they feel stressed and overworked by the model they call HyFlex, the Gainesville Sun reports. • The concept proved so unpopular in Volusia County that it appears on its way out, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported on Twitter.

One answer has become, just stay home. Hundreds did it in Palm Beach County, where substitutes were found to be in short supply, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Meanwhile, Florida’s school reopening lawsuit — initiated by teachers — drags on. The latest disagreement between the sides came over whether to consolidate the remaining questions in the case.

Ninth graders at Land O'Lakes High wait to get started on the Florida Standards Assessments writing test in March 2015. Tests were canceled in spring 2020. [Pasco County School District photo]

The coronavirus canceled last spring’s student assessments. The Lake County School Board decided to use the previous year’s data to evaluate its superintendent, who got good marks, the Daily Commercial reports.

Dealing with the virus can be stressful. The state has dedicated new funding for mental health services in rural school districts, Florida Phoenix reports.

Cases continue. A Brevard County private school closed for two weeks after it identified eight positive cases on campus, Florida Today reports.

Students crammed together in small spaces intensifies the worry. Photos showing students shoulder to shoulder at a Palm Beach County school were the latest to make the rounds, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Officials said they were trying to escape the rain.

Districts are still looking for devices they loaned out. Citrus County schools have made progress recovering their iPads, but 700 are still unaccounted for, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

There’s a new superintendent in town. The Martin County School Board split 3-2 in selecting the district’s first appointed chief executive, a former school leader from Kentucky, TC Palm reports.

Finally, a new name. After years of discussing it, Orange County renamed Stonewall Jackson Middle after baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, the Orlando Sentinel reports. It was the county’s last remaining school named after a confederate general.

Hurricane Sally is gone. Escambia County schools aim to reopen on Wednesday, offering internet hotspots to families hit hardest by the storm, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

From the court docket ... A former Broward County district supervisor gets a year in jail for accepting bribes in exchange for a district contract, the Miami Herald reports.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s the link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go. With all the restrictions in place, we don’t get into classrooms too often these days. So we welcome these school-created videos of what they’re seeing inside. Like dancing, with masks on, six feet apart. Welcome to Hello Week at Fairmount Park Elementary.

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