Redistricting politics hits Florida school boards

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning chats with School Board member Alison Crumbley at a board meeting in November 2020. A County Commission plan would draw Crumbley out of her member district.
Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning chats with School Board member Alison Crumbley at a board meeting in November 2020. A County Commission plan would draw Crumbley out of her member district. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]
Published Oct. 13, 2021|Updated Oct. 13, 2021

With the 2020 Census numbers finally out, the time has arrived for political map redistricting. It’s not just for lawmakers. School board members go through the process, too. And it’s not always pretty. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

The Pasco County board and county commission usually collaborate to devise shared district lines. The commission acted unilaterally this year, and redrew a board member out of her district in the process.

More district politics

More Florida school board members have come out against their national organization’s request for federal protection from “extremist hate organizations.” Two St. Johns County board members spoke out, saying that while duress might be high, it doesn’t require law enforcement intervention, the St. Augustine Record reports. More on the issue from the News Service of Florida.

The Broward County School Board declined to remove the “interim” from superintendent Vickie Cartwright’s title. Board members did agree to let her apply for the full time post, though, WPLG reports.

Mask mandates

Facing state sanctions, the Brevard County School Board scheduled a discussion about its mask mandate. Board members didn’t say much about the issue when they met, because they didn’t have enough time to review the state’s action letter, Florida Today reports. The board did bring up the possibility of allowing homecoming dances. • Several residents attended the meeting to speak their minds about masks. The board adopted a new public commenting policy that could limit their speaking time, WMFE reports.

The Leon County school district also faces state financial penalties over its mask rules. Superintendent Rocky Hanna announced he would drop the requirement of a medical excuse to get out of wearing the facial coverings, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. He said the penalties did not drive his decision.

Employee issues

Polk County school support staff have a new contract. Their minimum base hourly wage will go up to $11 per hour, and everyone gets a 2 percent raise, the Ledger reports.

The St. Lucie County school district extended paid COVID leave for teachers. The will qualify if required to quarantine by the district or the Department of Health, WPTV reports.

Other school news

What’s for lunch? Bay County students will get new menu choices during National School Lunch Week, with rewards for children who try them all, the Panama City News Herald reports.

Students often share similar mental health issues. The Bay County school district launched a voluntary small-group counseling program to help children not feel isolated when coping with their concerns, WMBB reports.

Florida allows 16-year-olds to drop out of school. Some lawmakers want to increase the mandatory attendance age to 18, Florida Phoenix reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The House Secondary Education subcommittee meets at 9 a.m. to discuss apprenticeship programs. • The House Early Learning and Elementary Education subcommittee meets at 11 a.m. to review implementation of legislation on early grade success. • The House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee meets at 3 p.m. to review the fiscal implications of past legislation. • The Senate Education Appropriations subcommittee is not meeting.

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Before you go ... Cole, half of the famous Tampa YouTuber cat team Cole and Marmalade, lost his battle with cancer this week. Here’s the video that introduced him eight years ago.

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