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Rapid growth sparks classroom demand for some Florida schools

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
New homes continue to rise in the Starkey Ranch subdivision of Pasco County, where a brand new school is already in line to get a classroom wing addition.
New homes continue to rise in the Starkey Ranch subdivision of Pasco County, where a brand new school is already in line to get a classroom wing addition.
Published Jun. 8|Updated Jun. 8

The big story: Some Florida school districts shrank during the pandemic, as some students found other options they preferred and some just stayed away.

Others just kept growing.

Count among them Pasco County, which has over the years been among the fastest growing school systems in the nation. This year its district and charter school enrollments jumped a combined 4,000 students, with some campuses barely able to keep up.

To handle booming development along the State Road 54 corridor, the district opened Starkey Ranch K-8 in August with nearly 1,600 students. It’s expected to approach 2,100 enrollment next year, prompting quick action to handle the crowding. Read about the plans for more details.

Hot topics

School leadership: Three more Pasco County schools learned who will be their new principals in the fall. • Fifteen Hillsborough County schools also got new principals.

School safety: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure aimed at improving school security requirements, the News Service of Florida reports. It does not address gun control, which has led some activists to call for additional reforms, Florida Phoenix reports. • Monroe County officials said they’ve taken several steps to improve campus safety, the Keys Weekly reports. • The Flagler County school district planned to conduct summer school without law enforcement present, until the Sheriff’s Office stepped in, Flagler Live reports.

Gender issues: A community group is calling on the Duval County school district to maintain an LGBTQ student support guide as it implements the state’s new “parental rights in education” law, WJXT reports. Another group rallied in favor of the law, WJXT reports. • The Florida Department of Education clarified that the new law will be implemented in stages, as it is able to set definitions of what’s “age appropriate,” WLRN reports.

Race lessons: State government officials are fighting a request for a preliminary injunction against the state’s new law governing how race-related matters are taught, the News Service of Florida reports.

Book challenges: The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library in Indiana has offered free copies of “Slaughterhouse Five” to students at a Brevard County school where Moms for Liberty has pushed to remove the novel, Florida Today reports.

Teacher shortages: The Duval County School Board is considering whether to offer a temporary certification to give extra time to teachers who are working to complete their credentials, WJXT reports. • The Osceola County School Board signed an agreement to bring in more than 100 teachers from South America to fill its vacancies, WESH reports.

School choice: New Florida education commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. made a point of meeting with representatives of independent, faith-based, charter and virtual schools on his first day in office, reimaginED reports.

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Other school news

The Hernando County School Board sued the Hernando County Commission. They’re battling over when the board can hold its planned sales tax referendum.

Lake County has a new School Board member. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed a 29-year-old insurance advisor to the post left vacant through resignation, the Daily Commercial reports.

Some South Florida school board members said they’ve been subjected to harassment and bullying like never before. It all started when they were dealing with masking, WTVJ reports.

The Orange County school district continues to search for its next superintendent. The School Board picked two finalists for interviews, Spectrum 13 reports.

The Sarasota County School Board unanimously rejected a for-profit charter school application. Members had concerns about the district’s potential financial liability, the North Port Sun reports.

The Martin County Commission extended the distance from schools where registered sex offenders may live. It’s now a minimum of 2,500 feet, TC Palm reports.

Sixty University of Florida students were planning to study in Japan before the pandemic. They’re still waiting, WUFT reports.

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

Before you go ... For years we’ve seen Simon Cowell give it to aspiring singers. How does he react when technology makes Simon sing? Check out this trending video.

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