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Florida schools seek paths to balanced budgets

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Hillsborough County School District CFO Romaneir Johnson addresses the School Board about its financial picture on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 in Tampa.
Hillsborough County School District CFO Romaneir Johnson addresses the School Board about its financial picture on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Dec. 3, 2021

School districts across Florida have lamented tight finances over the years, a situation that could be compounded by a return to pre-pandemic funding formulas. Some counties have had worse problems than others because of local decisions beyond the added expenses associated with hybrid learning and efforts to recover from missed lessons. Hillsborough County is among those working overtime to repair its financial situation. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

Hillsborough’s new chief finance director said she has developed ideas to save about $100 million. If so, the district could see a surplus rather than a deficit for the first time in years.

Lee County is experiencing crowding in its eastern region schools. Officials hope new data will help funding flow to schools that need it most, WINK reports.

Hot topics

Student health: There’s a national debate over whether schools should provide feminine hygiene products to students. Florida has become a key battleground over the idea, NPR reports.

Masks: They are now optional in Leon County schools. The district changed its requirement after the local positivity rate dropped below 3 percent, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Safety and security: A Michigan school shooting returned attention to security efforts in Florida. Schools made dramatic changes and improvements in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, TC Palm reports. • But some lessons haven’t been learned. A Parkland student was arrested on allegations of making threats against Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, the Miami Herald reports.

Book bans: A committee is reviewing the appropriateness of four books two Flagler County School Board members want removed from school shelves. Its recommendations will go to the superintendent soon, Flagler Live reports.

School board politics: Gov. Ron DeSantis praised the Florida School Boards Association for ending its membership in the National School Boards Association. • FSBA leaders meanwhile made clear their decision had to do with more than the national group’s stance on public participation in local school matters: “FSBA did not submit payment for 2020-2021 dues to NSBA which were due July 1, 2021. FSBA has been clear about reassessing the value of the affiliation with NSBA due to concerns surrounding NSBA’s governance, leadership, transparency, and failure to embrace non-partisanship,” executive director Andrea Messina told the Gradebook via email. “FSBA’s decision to let membership in NSBA lapse was necessary, but not made lightly and was not based merely on the letter that the NSBA Leadership sent to President Biden calling for broad federal law enforcement intervention. The decision to allow our membership to lapse was made in response to a persistent pattern of dysfunction within the NSBA organization and among those charged with its governance.”

Other school news

That’s Caballero Carvalho to you. Spain will knight Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho for his work promoting Spanish-language education programs, the Associated Press reports.

Marion County needs school bus drivers. The district is amping up its recruiting efforts to fill the slots, WKMG reports.

Hear the children’s voices ... A group of east Tampa youth urged state lawmakers to invest more into their schools and community, Florida Politics reports.

The University of Miami has reached a $1.85 million settlement with current and former employees over its retirement plan. It was accused of poor management and excessive fees, the Miami Herald reports.

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R.I.P. Wilma Hamilton Delp, Sarasota County’s first female schools superintendent, has died at age 71, the Herald-Tribune reports.

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

Before you go ... Remember when the Bollywood awards were in Tampa? It’s still fun to watch John Travolta join the dance on the spot.

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