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Ready for testing: When Florida schools want their grades

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Lakewood Elementary School kindergartners Kennedi Flournoy, 5, (right, front) and Heavenlei McKinnie, 5, (left) work on sight words Wednesday, April 7, 2020. Lakewood was one of the lowest performing schools in the state of Florida. Now it's one of the schools touted by the state as having avoided the COVID-slide, and is on its way to strong accountability performance.
Lakewood Elementary School kindergartners Kennedi Flournoy, 5, (right, front) and Heavenlei McKinnie, 5, (left) work on sight words Wednesday, April 7, 2020. Lakewood was one of the lowest performing schools in the state of Florida. Now it's one of the schools touted by the state as having avoided the COVID-slide, and is on its way to strong accountability performance. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]
Published Apr. 29
Updated Apr. 29

The final round of state testing begins next week, with a release from the usual high stakes attached because of the ongoing pandemic. When crafting his emergency order on how the results may be used, education commissioner Richard Corcoran made clear that schools wishing to use the scores to their benefit would be allowed to do so. That came after a request from Pinellas County. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

Pinellas officials were thinking about Lakewood Elementary when they made their request. After years of struggles, the school in south St. Petersburg has raised optimism that it’s finally headed off the state’s accountability watch list. “The COVID slide did not happen in Lakewood Elementary School,” superintendent Mike Grego says.

Tallahassee action

A bill to ban transgender girls from participating in school sports is headed to the governor’s desk. The Republican-dominated Legislature revived the measure, previously thought dead, by tacking it onto charter school legislation.

A proposal to protect legal use of medical marijuana stalled in the Legislature. Some school employees have lost their jobs after taking the drug, WKMG reports.

Teachers continue to worry about legislation that could harm their retirement. The bills might not pass, but some educators said they send a clear message about the future of the profession, Bay News 9 reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The Senate is scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. Bills on the special order calendar include SB 1864 to create a do-not-hire list for schools. Local bills also are up for action today. • The House is scheduled to convene at noon. Bills available for second reading include HB 1273 on out-of-state tuition waivers, and HB 229 on hazardous walking conditions.

Coronavirus concerns

Some parents don’t want masks in schools anymore. In Polk County, they protested outside the site where the School Board was selecting a new superintendent, the Ledger reports. • Brevard County parents asked for a reprieve, but the board there said it won’t be ending its rule during the last month of classes, Florida Today reports.

A growing number of districts are eyeing a summer end to their mask requirements. The Manatee County School Board is set to discuss the issue on Friday, the Bradenton Herald reports. • Volusia County board members discussed moving to a voluntary policy starting in July, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

‘I’m not comfortable with you being around kids.’ That’s what the operator of a Miami private school told employees who received the coronavirus vaccination, the Miami Herald reports.

Charter schools

A central Florida charter school faces accusations of falsifying student records. The alleged goal was to get more money from the state, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

New charter schools are on the way. The Manatee County School Board narrowly approved a school for the Lakewood Ranch subdivision, the Observer reports.

No need. The Leon County School Board rejected an application for what would have been the district’s sixth charter school, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Help wanted

Osceola County charter schools might have armed guardians on campuses next year. They would replace sworn law enforcement officers, WFTV reports. Law enforcement officials say there aren’t enough to go around. More from the Orlando Sentinel.

Manatee County district administrators asked for another $800,000 to cover substitute teacher costs through May. The School Board said no, the Bradenton Herald reports.

The St. Johns County school district wants to diversify its employee base. Its effort includes active recruiting of more minority teachers, WJXT reports.

Other school news

Bay County’s School Board chairman will donate half his salary to school staff. He made the move after voters rejected a referendum to raise taxes in support of employee pay, the Panama City News Herald reports.

Oops. Guess which Florida district is the site of a misspelled school zone marker. WKMG reports.

Students with intellectual disabilities often struggle making the transition from school to work. Florida Gulf Coast University is opening a new academy to help make the move, WINK reports.

Still on the hot seat. Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie will face a perjury charge despite his resignation offer, the Sun-Sentinel reports. More from the Miami Herald.

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

Before you go ... Apologies have been the order of the day among some of Florida’s school district leaders. Did Nirvana say it better?