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Struggling Florida schools seek turnaround solutions

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Art teacher Christine Samad teaches children at James Elementary School how to use a horizon to illustrate a landscape.
Art teacher Christine Samad teaches children at James Elementary School how to use a horizon to illustrate a landscape. [ AYA DIAB, AYA DIAB | Times ]
Published Feb. 18

The big story: For years now, the Hillsborough County school district has held the unwanted distinction of having more persistently low-performing schools than any other in Florida.

Through different sets of administration and leadership, the district has attempted to turn the schools around. They’ve made some progress, but still are seeking answers as they examine the possible factors at play, which can range from teacher preparation to student poverty.

One thing is clear, superintendent Addison Davis said: “The silver bullet doesn’t exist.”

Read more about the district’s efforts here.

Robles Elementary in Tampa has gone through five principals since 2017 as it has attempted to improve from its D state grade. One of the former leaders offered some telling insights about the difficulty of the task at hand.

Want to know more about the district’s 14 D- and F-rated schools? Here’s some data that informs the decisions being made for them.

Tallahassee action

 Student activist Kaylee Sandell speaks at a press conference at the Florida state capital, hosted by Equality Florida, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign in opposition of HB 1577 (Don't Say Gay bill) on Tuesday, February 15, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. (Rick Wilson/AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation)
Student activist Kaylee Sandell speaks at a press conference at the Florida state capital, hosted by Equality Florida, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign in opposition of HB 1577 (Don't Say Gay bill) on Tuesday, February 15, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. (Rick Wilson/AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation) [ RICK WILSON | AP ]

The House Judiciary Committee offered some changes to the controversial bill about LGBTQ lessons in schools. Critics said they appreciated the effort, but added the new language did little to appease their concerns. More from the Washington Post.

The Senate approved its education budget. It doesn’t shift $200 million away from school districts that didn’t follow state mask rules, the Associated Press reports. The House version proposes that shift, sending the issue to conference for resolution. • Four House members representing Sarasota County voted for the concept, even though Sarasota stands to lose millions, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Bills to require social media literacy lessons in schools got early attention during session. They haven’t moved and appear likely to die, Florida Politics reports.

A bill to create a “Victims of Communism Day” for schools continued to gain steam. It passed its final House committee on the way to the floor, Florida Politics reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The only thing scheduled is the House Congressional Redistricting subcommittee. Enjoy the day.

Other school news

‘Girls have been wrestling forever.’ Now the FHSAA will sanction the sport, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

The Broward County school district experienced a massive ransomware attack in late 2020. An investigation shows the district took extraordinary steps to prevent potential victims from knowing about the data breach, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Want to go to prom? An Orange County high school is requiring students sign a dress code agreement to attend, WOFL reports. It has one rule for boys, and many more for girls.

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Another school district reached a tentative teacher contract deal. All Escambia County teachers would get raises, but the district’s minimum salary still would not reach $47,500, WEAR reports. The district also established a longevity supplement for veteran teachers.

Don’t miss a story. The link to yesterday’s roundup is right here.

Before you go ... Any other Baz Luhrmann fans out there?

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