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What’s for lunch? Tampa Bay schools find favorites in short supply

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Kindergarteners Denise Kelly, left, and Aliyas Lott decide on fruits and vegetables while picking their lunches in the cafeteria at Sandy Lane Elementary School. The Pinellas County School District is among districts experiencing supply chain interruptions to bulk food supplies, which has led to altered menus.
Kindergarteners Denise Kelly, left, and Aliyas Lott decide on fruits and vegetables while picking their lunches in the cafeteria at Sandy Lane Elementary School. The Pinellas County School District is among districts experiencing supply chain interruptions to bulk food supplies, which has led to altered menus. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Oct. 26

School life has been far from normal this year, with masking and quarantines still at issue, and employee vacancies from classrooms to buses higher than anyone can remember. Add on top of that a supply chain struggle to acquire staples and supplies, and it’s become a scenario that has everyone seeking solutions. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

School shortages haven’t been limited to personnel. Cafeteria items in limited supply have made it tougher to maintain regular lunch menus. • The St. Johns County school district plans to stop providing free meals to all students in December because of the supply shortfalls, WTLV reports.

Teachers are reconsidering their options. In Alachua County, they’re encountering larger classes, less relief and low pay that have many rejecting requests to provide extra help, saying they can’t handle the load, the Gainesville Sun reports.

As demands rise, bus drivers want added consideration for their efforts. In Lee County, about 100 drivers called in sick as a protest for better pay, leaving thousands of children without bus rides, WINK reports.

Coronavirus concerns

The Biden administration sent another warning to the Florida education department about withholding grant funds from school districts. It said the state could face unspecified penalties if it follows through in denying districts an amount equal to the Safe Grant provided to school boards that implemented strict mask rules despite state rules.

Several Florida school districts are relaxing their mask rules. Changes could come this week in south Florida holdouts Miami-Dade and Broward counties, WPLG reports. • Several central Florida districts are having similar conversations, WKMG reports • Some parents say the decisions are coming too soon, WFTV reports. Orange County Democrats and teacher union leaders called for six more weeks of mask mandates, Florida Politics reports.

About that Miami private school that told vaccinated students to stay home ... It changed its tune after getting threatened by the state, the Miami Herald reports.

Wonder how Florida’s battle over school coronavirus protocols is viewed elsewhere? Here’s a take from Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service.

Heated board meetings

School board meetings across the state have gotten rowdy as residents show up to battle over masks and lessons about race. The Brevard County School Board is poised to shorten the amount of time available for public comment, Florida Today reports.

State officials have downplayed the idea of school board members being threatened or harassed by members of the public. At least five board members from across Florida said the intimidation is real, Florida Phoenix reports.

Some boards have enough problems dealing with one another. Flagler County board members continue to fight among themselves over their own operating procedures, Flagler Live reports.

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Hot topics

School safety: Florida law requires schools to conduct regular fire, active shooter and other safety drills each year. The Suwannee County school district ran only half of its drills last year, WUFT reports.

Funding: Osceola County after-school activity providers are seeking new revenue sources after their state funds dry up, the Osceola News-Gazette reports.

Taxes: Manatee County voters will head to the polls next week to decide whether to extend a local-option property tax that supports teacher salaries, the Herald-Tribune reports. If the item fails, teachers would lose about $5,000 in annual pay.

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

Before you go ... Not many schools offer classes in bluegrass music. This Polk County magnet middle school does. Pretty cool.

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