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Florida lawmakers advance hot-button education issues

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, steered his voucher expansion bill to party-line approval in the Florida Senate Education Committee.  (AP Photo/Phil Sears)
Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, steered his voucher expansion bill to party-line approval in the Florida Senate Education Committee. (AP Photo/Phil Sears) [ PHIL SEARS | AP ]
Published Feb. 4
Updated Feb. 4

Another legislative session, another spate of hot-button education issues likely to generate animated debate with the likelihood of pushing lawmakers to the final days before a vote. Already on the front burner are vouchers, mandatory moments of silence and more. Read on for the latest on this and other Florida education news.

Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed letting parents retain their children because of learning losses last spring. A Democratic senator is advancing the concept in legislation that won support in its first committee stop.

The Florida Senate’s big voucher bill had its first committee hearing. No surprises in the outcome, the Orlando Sentinel reports. More from Florida Politics. • An Osceola County School Board member stood in support of the proposal, then held firm under questioning from a Democratic senator who opposed it, Redefined reports.

“Some people cannot, simply, vote correctly.” Rep. Brad Drake proposed legislation to add voter education to the public school curriculum, WFTX reports.

Florida House leaders introduced early literacy legislation last week. It comes before its first committee today at noon. Here’s the meeting packet.

Photo of the Hillsborough County School District headquarters at 901 E Kennedy Boulevard on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Tampa.
Photo of the Hillsborough County School District headquarters at 901 E Kennedy Boulevard on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Prime downtown Tampa property for sale? It happens to be the Hillsborough County school district’s administration headquarters. Some School Board members are not thrilled with the administration’s proposal, made to help resolve a budget crunch.

Coronavirus concerns

They’re back. For the first time in a year, a majority of Palm Beach County students have returned to their classrooms, the Palm Beach Post reports.

A late start to classes this past fall raised concerns among many that summer break might be too short. The Palm Beach County School Board approved a shortened break anyway, after hearing educators say they need the time to help students catch back up, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Many online students struggle with their classes. The University of West Florida is offering parents virtual workshops on how to help, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Where have all the students gone? Flagler County’s school district enrollment is at its lowest since 2005, Flagler Live reports.

In other school news

It’s time for an early departure. The superintendent of the Lake Wales charter school system will leave his job sooner than planned after a disagreement with his board, the Ledger reports.

A Santa Rosa County student wore a Chik-fil-a uniform to her elementary school’s ‘everyday heroes’ celebration. The local franchise made her an honorary employee, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

Portions of southern Sarasota County are growing quickly. The school district is identifying sites for future high school construction, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Save our school. The city of Ormond Beach said it will direct up to $1.8 million to stop the Osceola County school district from closing Osceola Elementary, the Ormond Beach Observer reports. The Volusia County School Board has canceled meetings to further discuss plans for the school, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Getting there is half the battle. Some St. Johns County parents say a new walkway for their children to go to school is unsafe, the St. Augustine Record reports.

From the police blotter ... One Pasco County high school teen was in custody and another hospitalized after they fought on campus. • Polk County deputies encountered a 10-foot alligator at a local middle school campus, the Miami Herald reports. • A Levy County middle school substitute teacher is under investigation after allegations he punched a student in the chest, WCJB reports.

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

Before you go ... For another angle on Black History Month, here’s a brief video history of a dozen Black Latinas who have made their mark.