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Months later, many Florida teachers still wait for raises

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

Last spring, Florida lawmakers approved $500 million to put into teacher pay instead of bonuses. They aimed to boost the starting salary for educators to $47,500. But their plan didn’t include much money for teachers who aren’t in classrooms, such as reading coaches and guidance counselors, or for more veteran instructors who already earn more than the base. That led to some contentious negotiations over the money. Read on for the latest on this and other Florida education news.

Several school districts still haven’t concluded collective bargaining to get the raises to their teachers. Education commissioner Richard Corcoran and some State Board of Education members blamed “union bosses,” whom they called “irrational,” the News Service of Florida reports. • The Palm Beach County School Board approved its pay plan this week, WPTV reports. • The Volusia County School Board approved a deal on Tuesday to boost base teacher pay to $44,335, the Ormond Beach Observer reports. • Pasco County teachers arrived at a salary agreement this week.

Many districts say the state allocation isn’t enough for them to give as big raises as they’d like. The Bay County School Board planned to look into asking voters to increase their property tax rate as a way to collect more money for salaries, WMBB reports.

After its salary discussion, the State Board approved its teacher shortage rankings for the coming school year. Here’s the critical shortage list. No real surprises:

The Florida State Board of Education approved its list of teacher needs for 2021-22 at its Jan. 13, 2021, meeting.
The Florida State Board of Education approved its list of teacher needs for 2021-22 at its Jan. 13, 2021, meeting. [ Florida Department of Education ]

Coronavirus concerns

Remember when the Florida Education Association sued the state over reopening schools? The union has dropped the case, Florida Phoenix reports.

COVID-19 is keeping many English language learners at home. There’s a petition out urging the state not to force those children into schools to take a state exam in late January, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

About 12,000 Palm Beach County students are headed back to classrooms. The majority attend elementary schools, the Palm Beach Post reports. • The district’s superintendent joined the call to prioritize school employees for the coronavirus vaccine, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Volusia County schools plan to change the model for students remaining at home. The plan calls elementary aged children to attend regional classes, rather than by school, as a way to balance class sizes for teachers, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

‘It really smacks of McCarthyism.’ University of Florida faculty members express outrage at the school’s addition of a feature on a student app that would allow reporting concerns of instructors who don’t hold classes in person, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Some normalcy is returning. The Citrus County School Board approved in-person graduation ceremonies and the return of volunteers to the schools, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Other news

Florida lawmakers said they’re looking at a $2 billion revenue shortfall. Education spending, which represents a huge chunk of the budget, is unlikely to be unscathed, the Herald-Tribune reports.

What’s in a name? The Pasco County school district wants to rebrand its Hudson school complex with a new name to go with its new buildings and offerings.

Clay County is growing. Its schools are bursting at the seams, and action is needed, Clay Today reports.

Lee County is getting a new school. At one point, the plan called for two schools, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

No guns allowed. The Seminole County school district is unveiling new technology to discover weapons, WKMG reports.

An Alachua County teacher faces dismissal over accusations he sent sexual messages to a student. The School Board has delayed action after the teacher filed a grievance, the Gainesville Sun reports.

A key state lawmaker faces allegations of inappropriate behavior from when he was a teacher. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., vice chairman of the Education Appropriations subcommittee, denied the accusations and threatened to sue over them, the Miami Herald reports.

From the police blotter ... A former high-ranking Broward County schools administrator was arrested on charges of bid tampering and accepting improper payments, the Sun-Sentinel reports. The action is a result of a statewide grand jury investigation into schools that Gov. Ron DeSantis called for two years ago.

From the court docket ... A judge ruled that the Lee County school district violated state law in dealing with a public records request, WINK reports. It programmed computers to purge emailed requests based on certain keywords before anyone could see them.

Don’t miss a story. See yesterday’s roundup for more.

Before you go ... It’s not Grease. But it does feature some familiar faces. Plus some scenes from Ocala. Is it the one that you want?

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