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Florida universities seek leaders to fit ambitious missions

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
The University of South Florida has spent more than six months seeking a replacement for provost Ralph Wilcox, shown here touring the school's Bellini Center for Talent Development.
The University of South Florida has spent more than six months seeking a replacement for provost Ralph Wilcox, shown here touring the school's Bellini Center for Talent Development. [ DIVYA KUMAR | Times ]
Published Nov. 17|Updated Nov. 17

The big story: The University of South Florida continues its drive to become a top tier research university rivaling the state’s flagship schools.

To get there, it needs a new provost.

After spending more than six months searching for the best candidates, the school is headed back to square one. President Rhea Law asked the top internal applicant to take a different role, and rejected three other finalists named a month ago. Read more here.

USF is one of several state universities to get new leaders in recent months, as they aim to boost their national profiles. The University of Florida recently approved its next president, as did Florida International University, while Florida Gulf Coast University is poised to get one in the coming weeks.

Hot topics

Teacher pay: The Pinellas County School Board approved the contract it negotiated with teachers, providing an average raise of 4.25%. Some teachers remain dissatisfied, WMNF reports.

Online education: The Citrus County school district will close its eSchool for K-5 students at the end of the semester, citing declining enrollment, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Student security: Five middle schools in Orlando will get safety coaches to help de-escalate safety and behavior concerns, WKMG reports. • Nearly 5,000 Florida students were committed under the Baker Act last year, the News Service of Florida reports. • Broward County’s emergency communications system still needs work almost five years after the Parkland school shooting revealed deficiencies, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

School board turnover: The Sarasota County School Board held its final meeting with a liberal-leaning majority, the Herald-Tribune reports. • The Alachua County School Board saw the departure of three members, making way for its first ever all-woman board, Main Street Daily News reports. • A new Broward County School Board member says he has big ideas for the school district that has been mired in controversy, City and State Florida reports.

Hurricane recovery: Some Fort Myers Beach parents are growing concerned that their elementary school might not reopen as they see little action by the Lee County school district after 49 days, WFTX reports.

Charter schools: A Sarasota County dual-language charter school found a location for a permanent home after months of searching, the Herald-Tribune reports. The school is the first of its kind in Sarasota.

Other school news

Florida backed out of the CDC’s youth risk behavior survey months ago. It has yet to specify how it will create a Florida-specific survey for the state’s students, WTSP reports.

‘Children who are hungry cannot learn.’ The Polk County school district launched a food pantry to serve children and families in west Lakeland, Lakeland Now reports.

Girls Inc. of Greater Miami aims to help economically disadvantaged girls find success in school and life. It’s working to expand its presence to all Title I schools in Miami-Dade County, the Miami Herald reports.

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The Volusia County school district will increase the impact fees developers pay on new housing construction. The fee has not changed since 2013, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

From the police blotter ... A Flagler County sixth grader was arrested on allegations of making threats to shoot up a middle school, Flagler Live reports. • A Broward County assistant football coach was arrested on accusations of sexual battery against a minor student, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • A Sumter County teacher was arrested on allegations of inappropriately touching a student, WESH reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... The World Cup starts Sunday. Before the first kickoff, settle this argument: Chips or crisps?

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