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Florida promised teacher pay raises. It’s not working out for everyone.

A roundup of Florida education new from around the state.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signs into law a bill to increase Florida's minimum salary for public school teachers to $47,500 on June 24, 2020, while at Mater Academy in Hialeah Gardens.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signs into law a bill to increase Florida's minimum salary for public school teachers to $47,500 on June 24, 2020, while at Mater Academy in Hialeah Gardens. [ The Florida Channel/WPLG ]
Published Dec. 14, 2020

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, government leaders in Tallahassee made a big show of directing money into teacher salaries rather than bonuses, and called 2020 the ‘year of the teacher.’ As the year winds to a close, local school district leaders are trying to meet the targets that the governor and lawmakers established. Read on for the latest on that story and other Florida education news.

Veteran teachers didn’t figure into the Legislature’s salary plan. Hillsborough County superintendent Addison Davis expects to ask his School Board to put a property tax referendum before voters, with one goal being to boost pay for longer-tenured educators.

Non-instructional employees also weren’t part of the pay raise model. Disagreements over how to get those workers more money is one factor that led Polk County contract talks to land at an impasse, the Ledger reports.

A grand jury continues to investigate school security measures statewide. It blasted the Duval County school district’s police department for ‘outright fraud’ in its latest report, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Seminole County’s superintendent is preparing to retire. A search committee has recommended five candidates as potential replacements for Walt Griffin, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

A new charter school is rising in Duval County. Families and employees of the local district elementary school across the street from the site are displeased, WJXT reports.

A social media video has landed an Okeechobee County teacher in hot water. It appears to show the teacher zip tying a student to a chair, WPBF reports.

The Citrus County school district was using copies of the teacher certification prep book sold by two educators now under indictment. It quickly dropped the material after learning of the charges, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Two Broward County high school basketball players were suspended one game for wearing Black Lives Matter gear at practice. The WNBA rallied to their support, BET reports.

Marion County schools are replacing their social-emotional learning curriculum. They want parents’ input on the possibilities, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

Fourth-grade students work with principal Dr. Sara Capwell on a self-paced learning lesson at Innovations Preparatory Academy in Wesley Chapel.
Fourth-grade students work with principal Dr. Sara Capwell on a self-paced learning lesson at Innovations Preparatory Academy in Wesley Chapel. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Now for your daily dose of coronavirus-related stories.

Schools are encouraging struggling students to return to classrooms. South Florida superintendents suggested that online education simply isn’t for everyone, WPLG reports. • Treasure Coast educators agree that most students learn better when face-to-face with teachers and classmates, TC Palm reports. • The Collier County school district has recommended nearly half of its remote learners reconsider their option for the second semester, the Naples Daily News reports. • Eighty percent of Escambia County’s online learners aren’t making adequate progress, NorthEscambia.com reports.

When they return, students should get more interaction with teachers. The Broward County school district is revamping its in-school experience for children, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

But is in-person instruction really best? That’s really a decision to be made case by case, experts tell TC Palm.

Keeping the coronavirus out of schools will be of critical importance as numbers increase. St. Lucie County schools are expected to provide rapid testing for students, TC Palm reports. • Leon County school officials are pushing to have teachers among the first to gain access to new vaccinations, WCTV reports.

Cases are on the rise. Some of Hillsborough County’s largest schools are nearing 100 cases each. • Sarasota County schools recorded their highest single week increase, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Virus trends are complicating enrollment projections for 2021-22. The state’s top forecasters said they need more time to arrive at some conclusions to guide lawmakers as they set the education budget, Florida Phoenix reports.

So what’s the plan? As students fall behind and teachers struggle to reach them, the nation still lacks an overall approach to get them back on track, USA Today reports.

Meanwhile, the party continues. Polk County schools considered canceling classroom holiday celebrations. They decided to allow them, so long as everyone plays it safe, the Ledger reports.

Before you go ... Cute animal alert! This hamster finds its Eden at the end of a Rube Goldberg-esque challenge. See how creative it gets to solve the problems along the way.

Hamster Prison Break

Posted by Luis Antonio Ruiz on Thursday, December 3, 2020