10 more weeks of Florida’s partisan battle to control school boards

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Candidates for Pinellas County School Board aim to see their names added to this sign outside the district headquarters in Largo.
Candidates for Pinellas County School Board aim to see their names added to this sign outside the district headquarters in Largo. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]
Published Aug. 25, 2022|Updated Aug. 25, 2022

The big story: The primary election has passed. But the partisan divide over Florida education policy remains.

And it’s highlighted in some of the school board contests that won’t be decided until November.

The Tampa Bay region features three races in which supporters of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ agenda face more liberal opponents who advocate for concepts such as equity that have come under fire from the right. The candidates say they want to focus on children and education, not politics — but they mean very different things.

Read more here.

Other school boards already are seeing change coming as a result of the elections. The Brevard County board, for one, has flipped to a conservative majority, Florida Today reports.

DeSantis cheered the gains his side has made, declaring Florida is “the state where woke goes to die,” Fox News reports. Meanwhile, a University of South Florida professor of educational leadership raised concerns that politicizing school boards could hurt children’s education, WUSF reports.

Hot topics

Teacher pay: The Hillsborough County school district’s tax referendum to support increased salaries narrowly failed. Educators and other interested parties are trying to figure out why. A recount is next. • Duval County teachers may not see raises from their district’s newly approved property tax increase until next year, WJXT reports. The same is true for Pasco County, as superintendent Kurt Browning explained in a video message to staff. It has to do with the official timing of tax bills to property owners.

Teacher vacancies: Leon County superintendent Rocky Hanna slammed Gov. Ron DeSantis for creating a “false narrative” about why schools are struggling to attract and retain teachers, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. • Twenty Bay County teachers resigned in the first week of classes, WMBB reports.

Gender issues: Some Tampa Bay area students take issue with the allegations that they’re being indoctrinated with an LGBTQ agenda, WUSF reports.

Bus rides: The Flagler County school district moved sixth grade from elementary to middle schools, making many sixth graders newly ineligible for bus transportation, Flagler Live reports. • The Duval County school district is investigating incidents where wheels fell off school buses while transporting students, WTLV reports.

Other school news

Alachua County had the largest achievement gap between Black and white students in Florida. One charter school, whose enrollment is predominantly Black children, beat the odds, WUFT reports.

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A growing Facebook group has dedicated itself to supporting the needs of teachers in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The parents who created the group said they consider it a “pay it forward” community, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

From the police blotter ... A Sumter County student was arrested in connection with a social media bomb threat that led to the evacuation of The Villages High School, Villages News reports. • A former Taylor County private school teacher aide was arrested on accusations of having sexual conduct with students, WCTV reports.

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Before you go ... Ready for a new mashup? This “soul metal” offering might not seem like it will work, but it does.

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