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State officials eye added control over local school districts

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
State Board of Education chairman Tom Grady, shown speaking at a meeting in July 2021, has discussed the idea of the board being able to remove officials who are employed by local school boards.
State Board of Education chairman Tom Grady, shown speaking at a meeting in July 2021, has discussed the idea of the board being able to remove officials who are employed by local school boards. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Sep. 16

The big news: Some state officials have made no secret about their interest in who runs the local school districts.

The latest to speak up on the issue is State Board of Education chairman Tom Grady. His target: Broward County’s superintendent.

In recent months, Gov. Ron DeSantis has replaced enough members of the Broward School Board to name a majority that could act on the appointed superintendent’s job.

Still, at a meeting Thursday, Grady mused about whether the State Board might have or get the authority to displace superintendent Vickie Cartwright. Read more from the Sun-Sentinel.

As it stands, superintendents are either constitutional officers elected by voters, or employees hired by elected school board members. The governor may remove an elected superintendent for malfeasance as defined in law, but has no say over an appointed superintendent. Read more from WLRN.

The discussion took place during a meeting about grand jury findings relating to school district safety and security measures, Florida Politics reports.

Hot topics

More on school safety: Lee County’s superintendent asked parents to reinforce proper behavior and remind children about the consequences of their actions, after a school faced a shooting threat and two guns were found on campuses, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. • The Broward County school district is spending about $7 million on metal detectors for use at events, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Teacher shortfalls: The Santa Rosa County school district has launched high school teaching academies to help prepare teens to become teachers, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. The Santa Rosa and Escambia districts made some hiring progress over the summer, but still had several vacancies weeks into the new year, the News-Journal reports.

Bus rides: The Broward County school district began using technology that allows parents to track their child’s bus on the roads, WPLG reports. • The Osceola County school district continues to recruit drivers, needing at least 30 more, Spectrum 13 reports.

Budgets: The Volusia County school district’s $1.36 billion budget surpassed the size of the county government’s spending plan, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • The Leon County School Board adopted a $653 million budget, WTXL reports.

Book challenges: Some Escambia County residents called for the removal of the superintendent over the presence of library books they find inappropriate, Studio 850 News reports.

Other school news

An Orange County teen was stopped for speeding nearly 100 mph. He claimed he was trying to get to school, as he was late, WKMG reports.

Reading lessons are high priority as schools rebound from the pandemic. The Charlotte and Sarasota county school districts have expanded their programs focusing on literacy, the North Port Sun reports.

The State Board of Education issued its 2023-24 legislative budget request. The $23.9 billion proposal would be $880 million higher than this year, Politico Florida reports.

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A Palm Beach County teacher serving three years for sexually assaulting a student had a checkered history. District records show past reports of humiliating students, the Palm Beach Post reports.

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

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