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DeSantis touts Florida’s school efforts, calls for teacher bonuses

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Sarah Painter, a fifth-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School and 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for Pinellas County Schools, center, is introduced by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, during a press conference on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Palm Harbor University High School. DeSantis announced his proposal to give $1000 bonuses to school principals and teachers in Florida.
Sarah Painter, a fifth-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School and 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year for Pinellas County Schools, center, is introduced by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, during a press conference on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Palm Harbor University High School. DeSantis announced his proposal to give $1000 bonuses to school principals and teachers in Florida. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Apr. 1
Updated Apr. 1

Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Pinellas County on Wednesday for another of his “major announcements” regarding education. From a lectern at Palm Harbor University High School, the governor touted his administration’s efforts to keep schools open and students learning during the pandemic, unlike other states. He applauded teachers, whom he credited for doing the tough day to day work of focusing children on their academic and, often, mental health needs. Then came his big reveal. Read on for the latest on that story and other Florida education news.

The media event was billed as one to “celebrate and elevate” teachers. DeSantis proposed $1,000 bonuses for teachers and principals from the state’s federal pandemic stimulus funds. Other school employees weren’t included in the recommendation to lawmakers.

While at the presentation, commissioner Richard Corcoran also offered an insight into fall education plans. He suggested that funding will revert to the traditional model of supporting face-to-face and virtual classes, but not remote online instruction, Scripps reports.

Coronavirus concerns

Many school districts have called off “grad night” events because of possible health risks. The Pinellas County school district reversed course to let its seniors participate in the Busch Gardens activity.

One Manatee County high school experienced a spike in virus cases after spring break. Officials raised concerns about what might happen after Easter celebrations, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Students 16 and older soon will be eligible for vaccines. Lake County high schools will provide them to their students, WKMG reports. • Palm Beach County schools will offer another round of vaccinations for public and private school employees, the Palm Beach Post reports.

In-person spring testing continues to raise fears among some parents. They chose to keep their children at home during the pandemic for a reason, WGFL reports.

Tallahassee action

Possible revisions to Bright Futures scholarship funding survived another Senate committee. Senators again altered the legislation as they advanced the proposal to the floor, Florida Politics reports. The House has no companion. • Changes could negatively affect students from minority groups the most, WLRN reports.

Florida lawmakers want students to get more civics education. The House is poised to adopt a Senate proposal to create a new civics practicum for high schoolers, Florida Politics reports.

The Legislature has billions of dollars in federal stimulus money to bolster the budget. So far, the Senate hasn’t incorporated the funds into its plan, instead proposing big cuts in higher education, the Herald-Tribune reports. More from Florida Politics.

Measures to ban transgender female students from participating in high school sports continued to advance in both chambers. LGBTQ advocates warned lawmakers that such action could have negative financial consequences for the state. More from the News Service of Florida.

Today in Tallahassee ... The House Early Learning and Elementary Education subcommittee is set to meet at 9 a.m. Its agenda includes a measure that aims to end salaries of school board members, and a bill that was to permit native-language testing for students. • The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to resume its discussion on budgets and legislation when it meets at 9 a.m. • The House Post-Secondary Education subcommittee meets at 12:30 p.m. • The full Senate is scheduled to convene 30 minutes after Appropriations ends. Legislation on viewpoint diversity at public colleges and universities is on the special order agenda. • The full House goes to the floor at 3:30 p.m.

School news

A nonprofit group wants to preserve 14 acres of land owned by the Pinellas County school district. Delayed in its efforts by the pandemic, the group has asked the district for more time to put together its plan.

The Volusia County school district will recognize LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week after all. Superintendent Scott Fritz announced the plan after the School Board declined to adopt a resolution for the week, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

What’s in a name? Community members will get to vote on whether their Duval County schools should get rid of names recognizing Confederate soldiers, WJXT reports. • An Orange County school is putting its connections to Stonewall Jackson behind, with a new Roberto Clemente mural one of its highlights, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The Clay County school district is reviewing its contracts with companies that care for several sports fields. Residents said they worry the fields will fall into disrepair if the district drops the contracts, WJXT reports.

Hackers breached the Broward County school district’s systems. They demanded $40 million in ransom, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

School resource officers work with children daily. For the first time, officers in the Kissimmee police department are training on basic scenarios with students, Spectrum 13 reports.

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

Before you go ... It’s April Fool’s Day. How about some history of the holiday, from Homeschool Pop.