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School districts find unpopular decisions prompt pushback

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Alicia Willis, president of the Pasco County Council PTA, speaks against student data sharing between the Pasco County Schools and the Sheriff's Office during a School Board meeting on Dec. 15, 2020. A national foundation has ended a grant with the district because of the sharing program.
Alicia Willis, president of the Pasco County Council PTA, speaks against student data sharing between the Pasco County Schools and the Sheriff's Office during a School Board meeting on Dec. 15, 2020. A national foundation has ended a grant with the district because of the sharing program. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Mar. 1
Updated Mar. 1

As Newton’s third law of motion tells us, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It’s a rule most often applied to physics, but it often has meaning in the broader world, as well. One Florida school district is experiencing the lesson firsthand, and it’s proving rather costly. Another felt the backlash when it announced a potentially controversial move, prompting it to backtrack. Read on for those stories and more Florida education news.

The Pasco County school district has stuck with sharing student data with law enforcement, despite criticism. A national foundation told the district it would stop funding a multimillion-dollar grant because of the program.

Hillsborough County school district officials said they were looking into possibly closing under-capacity schools. They later started backing off that idea, amid a deluge of questions and concerns.

Tallahassee action

No surprises here. Florida’s teacher union polled members on state political issues, and found strong disapproval with the governor and his administration, Florida Politics reports. More on the poll from the Orlando Sentinel.

Love the arts? Two Florida lawmakers have proposed bills to support high achieving art students, Florida Politics reports.

Are you ready for session? Lawmakers appear poised to push conservative priorities such as education savings accounts, with the public largely kept away because of the pandemic.

Coronavirus concerns

Student counts are still down in some counties. Lee County school district budget planners warned their school board to expect to deal with a deficit, the Captiva Island Reporter reports.

Will schools continue to require masks next fall? Sarasota County officials are weighing the options, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Positive cases in Tampa area schools are down from their January peak. They remain above 500 a week.

Testing, testing

Florida officials have given no sign that they’ll back away from in-person state testing this spring. Some parents are working on a petition to stop the tests, WCJT reports. Others are talking about lawsuits, Boca News Now reports.

Other annual tests are still working on the details. Those include IB, AP and AICE exams, the Palm Beach Post reports.

In other school news

Florida first lady Casey DeSantis continues to focus on student mental health needs. She’s announced a new “resiliency” curriculum for children, in partnership with sports teams, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • Citrus County superintendent Sam Himmel advised parents to engage their children and check on their well-being, in the aftermath of two student suicides, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

The fate of a former Manatee County charter school remains in flux. District officials, who took over the school, have proposed a possible magnet for the school, the Bradenton Herald reports.

The Seminole County School Board is set to reconsider its superintendent selection. How did it get to this point? WKMG looks into the process.

Schools looked for ways to be creative in teaching Black History Month. Here’s how teachers at seven Duval County campuses approached the subject, the Florida Times-Union reports.

The coach who created a the basketball program at a Palm Beach County high school recently was fired. He’s alleging discrimination, the Palm Beach Post reports.

From the police blotter ... A Hillsborough County middle school student was arrested on accusations of selling stun guns to classmates. • A Polk County student was arrested after police said they found a loaded gun in his backpack, WFLA reports.

From the court docket ... A former Hillsborough County teacher accused of engaging in sexual activity with students was found not guilty.

Before you go ... March marks Women’s History Month. Who’s your female role model? The City of St. Petersburg asked some of its employees that question. Hear their views, and then think about what your answer might be.

Women's History Month | St. Pete, FL

“The future for women in St. Pete is limitless.” #WomensHistoryMonth

Posted by City of St. Petersburg, Florida on Friday, March 15, 2019