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Money’s tight for Florida schools

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
The Hillsborough County school district has contemplated selling its headquarters in Tampa as a way to generate extra needed money.
The Hillsborough County school district has contemplated selling its headquarters in Tampa as a way to generate extra needed money. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Feb. 16

Schools across Florida face potentially tough financial times as they approach the next fiscal year. State legislative leaders have signaled their unwillingness to again hold districts harmless if their actual enrollment doesn’t match projections, as occurred this year. That could mean massive revenue reductions for schools that have seen expenses rise to respond to the pandemic as the economy sputtered. Those concerns are just the basic ones. Some districts have other money woes to contend with, as well. Read on for the latest on this story and other Florida education news.

Hillsborough County school district officials are still looking for ways to cut spending by millions. Superintendent Addison Davis announced that closing under-enrolled campuses and consolidating schools is now on the table.

A new state audit found problems with some Bay County school expenditures. District leaders dispute the findings, the Panama City News Herald reports.

Testing, testing

Parents and school officials have questioned whether state testing can be safely conducted this spring. The Florida Department of Education extended the testing window by two weeks, saying it would allow schools to spread out the assessments for increased social distancing. More from the Orlando Sentinel.

Classes are preparing for the tests already. Early indicators show many Sarasota County students are struggling compared to past years, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Other southwest Florida school districts also have seen more students failing and having mental health woes, WZVN reports. • More from WFTV.

More news from Tallahassee

‘We are not turning back.’ Gov. Ron DeSantis rejects new CDC guidance for schools, saying it would force campuses to close unnecessarily, Florida Politics reports.

Florida lawmakers required schools to use a panic alarm system for security. State officials named the vendors to provide the $8 million service, Florida Politics reports.

Several education committees meet today. Among them, the Senate Education Committee convenes at 9 a.m. , where it will consider bills on CPR training and epinephrine auto-injector use in schools. The House Early Learning and Elementary Education subcommittee will review a bill at 10 a.m. to mandate moments of silence in public schools. And the House Education and Employment Committee will get a review of workforce programs at 4 p.m.

Race relations

As many as 269 unmarked graves sit beneath a section of Hillsborough County’s King High School campus. The district unveiled renderings of a memorial to honor those buried at the site.

A viral video from a Lee County high school shows a teacher denying the abuse of slaves and excusing the “N-word.” District officials are investigating, the Naples Daily News reports.

The Duval County school district aims to rename nine schools. Residents have challenged the potential use of sales tax revenue to pay for the changes, WJXT reports.

“Black history matters.” Duval County students and supporters rallied outside the school district’s main office for more and better lessons on Black history in schools, WJXT reports.

Other school news

School’s out. The Escambia and Santa Rosa school districts canceled classes for Tuesday because of weather conditions, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. • Icy roads prompted Okaloosa County schools to close, WKMG reports. More from the Northwest Florida Daily News.

At long last, a charter high school. Plans for a charter high school in Destin got a boost as organizers sealed the deal on a site to open the campus, the Destin Log reports.

From the court docket ... The Orange County school district has filed suit against the state Department of Education, which has ordered the district to provide added services to a student with special needs. The district contends it offered the services to the family, which rejected them, WFTV reports.

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

Before you go ... He’s 87 and going strong. Willie Nelson has a new release of Sinatra tunes. Check out the first video, a duet with Diana Krall.