Florida’s Bright Futures debate continues

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
The Legislature is once again considering changes to the Florida Bright Futures scholarship program.
The Legislature is once again considering changes to the Florida Bright Futures scholarship program.
Published March 23, 2021|Updated March 23, 2021

Some call legislation to overhaul Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship a worrisome move that could kill the support system for many Florida students. Others call it a distraction that has little chance of becoming law. Either way, the conversation is started, and it takes its next turn today. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

The first version of the Bright Futures bill caused an uproar. A heavily amended revision heads to the Senate Education Appropriations subcommittee at 10:30 a.m. It would remove some of the most controversial parts, but still tie funding to the budget rather than to tuition and fees.

More Tallahassee action

The state is getting millions in coronavirus relief funds. Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to use a portion to create some new career-technical education programs, Florida Politics reports.

Lawmakers have required schools to have mobile panic alarm systems by fall. Some districts already have them in place, WFLA reports.

The Florida Senate has a bill to create education savings accounts in the state. In a new poll from the libertarian Americans for Prosperity, just more than half of those interviewed supported the idea, Florida Politics reports.

Also today ... The Senate Education Committee will consider legislation to give in-state tuition to out-of-state students whose grandparents live in Florida, when it meets at 12:30 p.m. • The House Early Learning and Elementary Education subcommittee will review a local bill to switch Hernando County schools to an elected superintendent, when it meets at 12:45 p.m. • The House Secondary Education subcommittee meets at 9:15 a.m.

Coronavirus concerns

School employees said they wanted to be vaccinated to feel safer at work. About 40 percent of Manatee County district workers have received the vaccine so far, the Bradenton Herald reports.

In-person schooling did not prove a virus super spreader, as feared, though. A new CDC report states less than 1 percent of Florida’s cases occurred in schools, WTSP reports. • On their first day back from spring break, no Manatee County students tested positive, the Bradenton Herald reports.

The CDC went so far as to say it’s okay to move desks as close as 3 feet apart. Orange County school district leaders said they’ll stick with 6 feet, WMFE reports.

Martin County teens are trying to organize an all-county prom. A state lawmaker said he will help, even though the plan goes against school district guidelines, TC Palm reports.

Seniors want to celebrate their graduation with family and friends, too. Volusia County graduates will get to invite four guests to their in-person commencement, after the district gave in to complaints that two tickets weren’t enough, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Are they falling behind, or not? Progress monitoring data show Sarasota County students are slightly off where they have been in past years, but they’re doing better than peers in other parts of Florida, the Herald-Tribune reports.

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Spring testing might provide some insights. Some parents are concerned that a year of obstacles might hinder their children’s performance, Spectrum 13 reports. • Some lawmakers aim to detach the results from high-stakes consequences, WPTV reports. • The state Department of Education could take that step through a federal accountability waiver, WPTV reports.

Three conservative student organizations were suspended for not following the University of Florida’s health-safety rules. The groups are alleging political suppression, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Other school news

Gone fishin’. A new Okaloosa County charter high school wants to offer courses in commercial fishing, the Destin Log reports.

The videos aren’t helping. Clips of Duval County residents commenting on proposed new names for Robert E. Lee High have highlighted racial divisions in the community, WJXT reports.

Speaking of racial divisions ... A new local report shows a continuing academic opportunity and performance gap among racial groups in Duval County schools, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Still no ruling. A judge is expected to decide on Tuesday whether the Seminole County School Board can proceed with its controversial superintendent selection, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

An Escambia County elementary school became a community partnership site five years ago. It’s making a difference in the lives of children and families, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

New school, new site. The Lee County school district changed its planned location for a new K-8 school after city officials raised concerns about traffic at the previously selected property, WBBH reports.

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

Before you go ... Kermit, just because.