Florida schools aim to improve education for all

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Tommy Steele, 9, works with his special education teacher over Zoom during a virtual school lesson in March. Some schools are overhauling their programs, such as special education, to better serve their students.
Tommy Steele, 9, works with his special education teacher over Zoom during a virtual school lesson in March. Some schools are overhauling their programs, such as special education, to better serve their students. [ Courtesy of Peggy Steele ]
Published Feb. 3, 2021|Updated Feb. 3, 2021

If the pandemic has shown Floridians anything, it’s that one size does not fit all when it comes to their schooling. Some students have thrived on remote learning, while others struggled mightily and found respite back in classrooms. Some families left their schools in search of the right approach for their children. In that light, some school districts have begun taking steps to revamp their offerings. Read on for the latest on that and other Florida education news.

Pasco County school district leaders have talked about changing their alternative schools for years. They introduced a plan this week.

The Sarasota County school district needs to connect with parents as it works to improve special education programs. Traditional outreach efforts haven’t worked, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Legislative action

Florida plans to test students this spring. Some Palm Beach County parents launched a petition to stop the process, WPEC reports. • Two Democratic state lawmakers filed legislation to call off the high stakes usually attached to the results, WFOR reports. More from the Sun-Sentinel.

Some students have lost ground in their education due to the “COVID slide.” A bill that would allow their parents to hold them back a year in school hits the Senate Education Committee today at 9 a.m. Also on the agenda, consideration of a major bill to overhaul the state’s voucher program.

Lawmakers began receiving details of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget proposal. They had some doubts about his education spending plans, among other questions, Florida Politics reports. • The Senate Education Appropriations subcommittee will take a closer look when it meets today at 3:30 p.m. Here’s the packet.

Coronavirus concerns

Brevard County teachers negotiated a $7,000 raise for this year. Non-instructional staff, meanwhile, will get a $500 bonus, Florida Today reports. Officials blamed the district’s coronavirus-fueled financial struggles.

Some Okaloosa County schools had the state’s highest reported coronavirus case numbers in 2020. The district is changing its quarantine procedures nonetheless, shortening the time away from school, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

The school year has been exhausting for many. Suggesting teachers and others need a “breather,” St. Johns County superintendent Tim Forson suggested lengthening summer break, WJXT reports.

Getting vaccines for teachers takes time. The Indian River County school district is the latest to reach an agreement to provide doses to its employees age 65 and older, TC Palm reports.

Students continue to return to campuses. Palm Beach County schools welcomed about 20,000 more with the start of the second semester, WPTV reports.

Other school news

“Books, not bullets.” Osceola County School Board members discussed the possibility of removing school resource officers, WOFL reports. The conversation came amid outrage over a video showing an officer slamming a student to the ground.

Show them the money. Bay County commissioners have called a referendum to raise school property taxes as a way to boost teacher pay, WJHG reports.

The St. Johns County school district is opening two new schools in the fall. One has a name. The other needs one, the WJXT reports.

Traffic outside DeBary Elementary has caused major headaches for about 15 years. The city and Volusia County teamed up this year to fix the problem, at a cost of $1 million, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... African-American history is woven into daily life in ways you might not even know. For instance, do you know the history of the name behind Pinellas County’s Gibbs High? Read about Jonathan C. Gibbs, Florida’s first African-American Cabinet member, for some insights on how he helped shape public education in the state.