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Is a power struggle emerging in Hillsborough schools?

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Hillsborough County School Board members Nadia Combs and Jessica Vaughn at a member-to-member meeting on Thursday. Member Karen Perez, who attended remotely, can be seen on the screen above.
Hillsborough County School Board members Nadia Combs and Jessica Vaughn at a member-to-member meeting on Thursday. Member Karen Perez, who attended remotely, can be seen on the screen above. [ MARLENE SOKOL | Times staff ]
Published Mar. 2
Updated Mar. 2

Newly elected school board members often have a steep learning curve when they enter office and find they don’t have all the information about issues they must decide upon. Some choose to sit back and study. Others take a more forceful approach to getting up to speed. Sometimes, the administrators paid to run the schools push back against the pressure. That’s happening now in one of Florida’s largest school districts. In another, the board had disputes of its own in selecting its next superintendent. Read on for those stories and more Florida education news.

A top Hillsborough County school district executive decided to “fact check” comments made by some School Board members. The effort did not go over well with those members, one of whom called the administrator “sexist.”

The Seminole County School Board has flip-flopped on its superintendent choice. In the span of two weeks, the board has picked one candidate, revoked its choice and selected the other aspirant. At least one search committee member has lost confidence in the process, WKMG reports. More from the Orlando Sentinel.

Tallahassee action

Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to keep espionage out of the state’s public universities. He’s supporting bills to “eliminate any tolerance for clandestine foreign influence” in the schools.

The legislative session formally begins today. The Senate Education committee will discuss a bill to cancel the consequences attached to state spring tests when it meets at 4 p.m. Here’s some background. Central Florida school district officials have actively encouraged lawmakers to adopt such a measure, WFTV reports.

Many eyes are on the education budget. Questions about student counts and teacher raises could influence the outcome, WTLV reports.

School board member pay is on some lawmakers’ minds. There’s a bill afoot to make the job unpaid, Florida Politics reports.

Creating an education savings account system is on the fast track. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. said it’s his top priority this session, WJCT reports.

Coronavirus concerns

More vaccines are coming. Education employees age 50 years and older will be eligible under the governor’s latest edict. • Some Jacksonville-area teachers under 65 were able to get inoculated earlier than expected, the Florida Times-Union reports. • Many teachers contend the age restriction should be gone for those who keep the schools open, WPTV reports.

Education employees have helped their communities cope with COVID-19 for a year now. The Manatee County school district launched a two-week celebration to honor their efforts, the Bradenton Herald reports.

More than 17,000 Duval County families received letters encouraging them to send their children back to school in person. Some parents consider the messaging unfair pressure tactics, WJXT reports.

The University of Central Florida plans to resume normal classes in the fall. It will keep some pandemic protocols in place, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Zoom bombing still happens. A Brevard County school is investigating how pornography got into a class call, WESH reports.

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In other school news

The Buccaneers will donate defibrillators to every high school in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. It’s a Super Bowl “legacy gift.”

The city of Cape Coral’s charter school system is running a deficit. City officials said they would consider reducing the schools’ rent and contributing $2 million toward operations, WINK reports.

If you see something, say something. Local law enforcement had a heightened presence at a Sarasota County middle school after a threat of violence surfaced on social media, the Venice Gondolier reports.

It’s election day for one Florida school district. Gulf County school officials are asking voters to renew a local property tax that helps pay for extracurriculars and teacher pay, WMBB reports.

On the national front ... Miguel Cardona was confirmed as U.S. Education secretary, Education Week reports.

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

Before you go ... It’s been 101 years since the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. How did Tampa women participate in the suffrage movement. The library system put together an explainer video for Women’s History Month.