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Millions more for Florida education. Is it enough to go around?

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Hillsborough County School District CFO Romaneir Johnson addresses the board during a School Board retreat in April. School boards across Florida are examining their finances closely to make sure they can balance their budgets in the coming academic year.
Hillsborough County School District CFO Romaneir Johnson addresses the board during a School Board retreat in April. School boards across Florida are examining their finances closely to make sure they can balance their budgets in the coming academic year. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jun. 8
Updated Jun. 8

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently approved the largest budget for public education in Florida’s history. Flush with federal stimulus cash, the plan includes teacher bonuses and increased per-student funding, and generally avoided the deep cuts that many feared might follow pandemic-fueled tax revenue decreases. Still, some school district officials have worries. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

Several district finance officials anticipate spending cuts despite the bigger budget. Some interested parties from the left and the right suggest they’re crying wolf. • Brevard County officials said they expect a $16 million shortfall, and are running out of places to cut, Florida Today reports. • It’s not all bad news. The state exceeded its tax revenue projections again in April, the News Service of Florida reports.

Districts continue to look for other revenue sources. The Orange County School Board will discuss its options to collect more fees to cover the costs of growth, despite a new law limiting such moves, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Race issues

The State Board of Education’s hearing on the teaching of U.S. history without indoctrination is approaching. The proposed rule is highlighting the debate over how to teach sensitive race issues and African American history during politically sensitive times. • U.S. Sen. Rick Scott weighed in with a resolution opposing the use of “critical race theory” in K-12 schools, Florida Politics reports.

The battle has seeped into school board hearings. Some angry Collier County residents criticized their board’s planned purchase of social studies textbooks, claiming they promote a leftist ideology, WINK reports.

It’s also touched individual schools. The administration of a Broward County high school suspended yearbook sales and distribution after receiving complaints about a two-page Black Lives Matter spread, which some called “racist,” WPLG reports.

The State Board also is receiving public input on proposed changes to civics standards. The response so far has been low, Florida Phoenix reports.

Struggling students

Florida was one of the first states to retain third graders over their reading skills. During the pandemic, it was one of the first to suspend that rule, Education Week reports.

Many Florida districts are looking to summer classes to boost their struggling students. The Lee and Collier county systems have adopted new tools to help meet those children’s needs, WWSB reports.

Now hiring. The Palm Beach County school district has proposed adding 369 teaching positions to help students overcome pandemic learning losses, the Palm Beach Post reports. • The growth in summer attendance has forced the Lake County school district to seek more bus drivers, Spectrum 13 reports.

School sports

Key West High School has been waiting for a new stadium for a decade. Now that it’s coming, some Monroe County residents are questioning the contract for the job, the Florida Keys Weekly reports.

Play ball? The FHSAA will consider a rule to stop middle school students from playing on high school varsity sports teams, WJXT reports.

In the schools

Duval County schools changing their names also are changing their nicknames and mascots. The Jacksonville Jaguars will donate new sports uniforms to those schools, the Florida Times-Union reports.

A charter school serving rural Immokalee has plans to expand. The initiative has been years in the making, the Naples Daily News reports.

From the police blotter ... The Hendry County principal who made national news for paddling a student filed a complaint against the child’s mother, accusing her of illegally filming the incident, WFTX reports.

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

Before you go ... Willie Nelson. Barbra Streisand. Duet. Need I say more?