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‘Schools of Hope’ gain ground as competition to low scoring public schools

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
An unidentified student on his first day of class as IDEA opens two state-sanctioned charter schools of hope in Tampa on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021.
An unidentified student on his first day of class as IDEA opens two state-sanctioned charter schools of hope in Tampa on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. [ IDEA | Handout ]
Published Nov. 17

Florida’s “schools of hope” charter school initiative got off to a slow start after its initial approval. Now the program, which aims to offer alternatives to children with perennially low test scores, is gaining steam. And Hillsborough County, with more of those low performing schools than any other district, has become ground zero. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

Texas-based IDEA charter schools has opened two sites in Tampa. They’re going through growing pains as they expand, with more ‘schools of hope’ on the way.

Hot topics

Teacher pay: Hillsborough County teachers have asked to increase starting pay to $50,000. They say the district has the money, though district officials counter that they’re trying to avoid further financial crisis.

Book bans: Flagler County parents protested while the School Board battled over a member’s criminal complaint about books she deemed “pornography” on school shelves, Flagler Live reports. Meanwhile, the sheriff took himself out of the battle, calling it a school board issue.

School violence: Parents at a Seminole County middle school said they’re considering whether to remove their children because of increasing fights on campus, WKMG reports.

Learning losses: A Florida Virtual teacher who also tutors students told the Jackson County School Board that their district lacks resources to help a growing number of struggling high school students, WMBB reports.

Parent rights: Some Florida lawmakers seek to strengthen the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” law during the special session on COVID mask and vaccine issues. Critics argue the law is being inappropriately used, the News Service of Florida reports.

Construction costs: The Sarasota County school district is encountering skyrocketing construction costs as it builds new schools and renovates others, the Herald-Tribune reports. • The Lee County School Board unanimously halted a new school project amid concerns it was unnecessary, WINK reports.

Coronavirus concerns

All Florida school districts are now in compliance with state rules on student masking. The State Board of Education has geared up to continue fighting the matter, including a possible faceoff with the federal government.

Opting out of masks continues to gain traction. More than 2,000 Alachua County students submitted opt-out forms after the School Board dropped its policy requiring a doctor’s note for an exemption, WCJB reports.

The opt-outs have detractors, too. The Monroe County teachers union filed a grievance against the district, saying its unilateral lifting of mask requirements was an unfair labor practice, the Key West Citizen reports.

Some private schools haven’t removed their mask requirements. Parents protested outside the Archdiocese of Miami to call for an end to the rules in their Catholic schools, WFOR reports.

Florida educators aren’t spending much time in Tallahassee lobbying during the special session on masks and vaccines. Union leaders noted most of the issues already are being reviewed in the courts, Florida Phoenix reports.

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Athletics

Let the games begin. After a slight delay, Miami-Dade County’s high school basketball season will get underway on a provisional basis, the Miami Herald reports.

University of South Florida trustees really want a football stadium on campus. They made that goal one of nine priority measures for their interim president.

Other school news

Who’s in the chair? The Marion County School Board selected its leadership after one member suggested the chairperson should not be up for reelection during his or her term, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

Who’s in the chair? (Part 2) The Brevard County School Board has come under heavy criticism for its stance on masking, with chairperson Misty Belford taking plenty of the heat. On Tuesday, she was returned to the chair for a fourth time, Florida Today reports.

Who’s in the chair? (Part 3) A divided Alachua County School Board ignored its past practice of elevating its vice chairperson to the chair, Main Street Daily News reports.

“We’ve only just begun.” Alachua County school district leaders review progress made on getting more parents involved and combatting learning losses, the Gainesville Sun reports.

From the court docket ... The Leon County school district faces a lawsuit over a complaint that it excludes parents from discussions about children’s gender identity, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

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

Before you go ... Yes, this is from a political show. But it’s not about politics. It’s just funny.

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