DeSantis star power impacts school board races

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Attendees make photographs of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as he speaks during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit, Friday, July 22, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Attendees make photographs of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as he speaks during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit, Friday, July 22, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP ]
Published July 27, 2022

The campaign story: About those Ron DeSantis school board endorsements.

He’s announced support for 26 incumbents and challengers so far, with many others seeking a nod. Some haven’t waited, associating themselves with the governor and his ideas in campaign flyers. Most of those invoke his name and include pictures of him.

The effort isn’t always welcomed by DeSantis. Check out what’s happening in Miami-Dade County.

Incumbent Marta Perez, running as a “conservative voice,” ran ads featuring a photo of the candidate with DeSantis. The governor is backing a different person in the race.

Lawyers are now involved, the News Service of Florida reports.

In other school board races:

A Marion County incumbent is fending off a challenge from a first-time candidate, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

All candidates for one Leon County School Board seat say they oppose “Pride” rainbow flags in schools, WFSU reports.

Hot topics

Tax referendums: The Pasco County school district is asking voters to increase local property taxes to raise revenue for employee raises. While some critics argue the district already has enough money, officials counter that most of the budget is tied up in state mandates and fixed expenses. • The Broward County school district is seeking an extension of its local property tax, which includes funds for added school security, WTVJ reports.

Gender issues: Parents, students and a nonprofit have sued the Orange, Duval, Indian River and Palm Beach county school districts to test the legality of Florida’s new law restricting instruction about gender identity, the News Service of Florida reports. • A proposed state regulation would require school districts to inform families if room assignments on overnight field trips are separated by biological sex at birth, Florida Politics reports. • Proposed new Lee County rules would require teachers to inform parents if a student requests to use a different pronoun or name, WINK reports.

Textbook purchasing: A publisher is resisting the state’s investigation into the pricing of instructional materials, the News Service of Florida reports. A whistleblower has alleged that some districts were getting special prices from some publishers. • Florida is getting ready to select social studies textbooks, with plenty of restrictions and rules on what may appear in them WFTV reports.

School prayer: In the aftermath of a Supreme Court ruling that permitted more prayer in public schools, officials across the nation including in some Florida school districts are pushing for more worship, the Washington Post reports.

Book challenges: A Clay County School Board member is pushing for disciplinary action for anyone responsible for placing “pornographic and otherwise inappropriate books” into schools, Fox News reports.

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Sex education: The Miami-Dade County School Board has called a special meeting Thursday to discuss next steps after rejecting its proposed sex education curriculum, WFOR reports.

Busing woes: Leon County schools don’t have enough bus drivers to transport students, WCTV reports. • A transportation job fair did not attract enough bus drivers and attendants for Osceola County schools, WESH reports. • The Palm Beach County school district has budgeted for 614 bus drivers, but so far has filled 440 spots, WPTV reports.

Other school news

The University of South Florida surpassed $150 million in fundraising for 2022. It’s a record for the school’s 70-year history.

Warrington Middle School in Escambia County is converting to charter control. Superintendent Tim Smith said several factors played into the school’s longtime struggles, WEAR reports.

The Polk County school district has closed Haines City High School to new enrollment. The school has reached its capacity, so new students are being directed to other campuses with seats available, the Ledger reports.

The Orange County School Board unanimously approved a contract for new superintendent Marta Vazquez. She’ll receive a base salary of $330,000 a year, WKMG reports.

The Jackson County school district is recruiting retired teachers to fill classroom vacancies. It agreed to pay them for their full experience instead of capping their salaries, WMBB reports.

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Before you go ... Joni Mitchell was back live for the first time in nine years, at the Newport Folk Festival. Not a dry eye could be seen.

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