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Enrollment is down. Schools could face cuts if students don’t return.

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Desks are spaced out in Tara Ruggiero's kindergarten classroom at Macfarlane Park IB Elementary. Many kindergartners did not show up for school statewide this year, prompting concerns about enrollment and funding.
Desks are spaced out in Tara Ruggiero's kindergarten classroom at Macfarlane Park IB Elementary. Many kindergartners did not show up for school statewide this year, prompting concerns about enrollment and funding. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Feb. 19
Updated Feb. 19

With lawmakers in another round of committee meetings, Florida’s public education discussion homed in on the issue of children who haven’t shown up for classes this year. Superintendents said they know where many of them landed, but can’t determine the location of others. If the students don’t return to the schools next fall, lawmakers made clear they expect to stop sending schools funding for them. (This year, the state funded districts based on enrollment projections rather than the usual classroom counts.) Read on for the latest on this and other Florida education news.

Where have all the children gone? Central Florida schools report higher than usual levels of truancy during the pandemic, WESH reports. More from WFTV. • The issue of “missing students” is likely to impact school funding for the coming year, Florida Politics reports. • Several superintendents from around the state told lawmakers about their efforts to find “unaccounted for” children, and asked for help, the News Service of Florida reports.

Some people contend parents aren’t getting the type of education they want for their children during the pandemic. Two new surveys suggest otherwise, Chalkbeat reports.

Other coronavirus concerns

Is Florida’s student infection rate really better than most other states? A USF expert says it depends on the definition used, and suggests Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t provided proper context, WTVJ reports.

In-person graduations are a go for Brevard County high school seniors. They won’t get prom, though, Florida Today reports.

Teachers want to be vaccinated. Some Palm Beach County educators will get access over the weekend, WPEC reports.

More districts are confronting the state’s in-person testing requirement. Some south Florida parents and teachers are pushing back, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

In Tallahassee

Florida lawmakers continue to press legislation requiring added paperwork for union membership. The Florida Education Association is among several organizations fighting the proposal, the Associated Press reports.

Some students lack the tools they need for distance learning. A north Florida lawmaker has filed legislation to provide the necessary devices and curriculum, the Port St. Joe Star reports.

Can Florida’s workforce aid program be fixed? Lawmakers aren’t sure.

In other school news

Seven seniors were cut from their Palm Beach County high school’s baseball team without explanation. Their principal reinstated them amid community outrage, WPTV reports.

Big plans ahead. The Manatee County school districts will begin major school rebuilding and renovation projects, the Bradenton Herald reports.

The armed guards stay. A north Florida appeals court ruled against a Duval County challenge to the law allowing “guardians” on campus, the News Service of Florida reports.

That’s “disturbing.” A Bay County school will get added law enforcement presence after a student made a “disturbing comment” on social media, the Panama City News Herald reports. • Taylor County High School evacuated after receiving an envelope filled with white powder and a written bomb threat, WCTV reports.

From the court docket ... A former Florida Prepaid College Program contractor was sentenced to 33 months in prison after a fraud conviction arising from her work, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reports.

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

Before you go ... NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars on Thursday. Maybe it will find some evidence of life out there.