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Florida’s new-look school boards take charge

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Broward County school Superintendent Dr. Vickie L. Cartwright, left, with newly elected school board members Jeff Holness, Brenda Fam and Allen Zeman during Tuesday's
swearing-in ceremony at Fort Lauderdale High School,
Broward County school Superintendent Dr. Vickie L. Cartwright, left, with newly elected school board members Jeff Holness, Brenda Fam and Allen Zeman during Tuesday's swearing-in ceremony at Fort Lauderdale High School, [ CARLINE JEAN / SOUTH FLORIDA | South Florida Sun-Sentinel ]
Published Nov. 28, 2022

School’s back in session after a Thanksgiving break unmarred (for most Florida students) by any hurricane makeup days. Those will come later in the year.

What did we miss during the week away? School board meetings, mandated by state law.

Tuesday marked the day that school boards across the state swore in new members and selected new leadership. The Pinellas and Pasco boards selected first-time chairpersons, while the Hillsborough board asked its current leader to serve a second year in the chair. • The Miami-Dade County board swore in a member appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to replace a member who resigned to run for a local mayor’s post, the Miami Herald reports. His publicly stated views on issues are sparse, the Herald reports. The board then selected DeSantis-aligned leadership, the Herald reports. • The new-look Flagler County board quickly demonstrated its division on issues, Flagler Live reports. • Concerns about the eligibility of a newly elected member prompted the Broward County board to not swear him in, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Lee County board members did not have unanimity in selecting their leadership, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. • Two newly elected Collier County board members took the chair and vice chair posts, the Naples Daily News reports. • Opposite viewpoints were evident in the swearing in of two Orange County board members, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Some of those boards took some quick action. The new conservative majority on the Brevard County board ousted the district’s superintendent, Florida Today reports. It also adopted a new policy on transgender student restroom use that puts it at odds with federal rules, Florida Today reports. • The new Broward board majority rescinded a recently passed action that would have shared district revenue with charter schools, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Shortly after choosing a new chairperson, the Sarasota County board set a meeting to discuss firing its superintendent, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Other school news

Many children on break didn’t have easy access to meals they usually get at school. One Pasco County middle school launched a new program to help its neediest students make it through the holidays. • The Brevard County school district has seen its number of homeless students double, Florida Today reports.

Some high achieving Hillsborough County high school students are spending time tutoring elementary children. They say it’s the highlight of their week.

An Escambia County community group pushed for a locally-run charter school to take over struggling Warrington Middle. Its efforts have so far fallen short, but the group is not giving up, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

One of Flagler County’s two high schools is set to receive a major renovation. The project could cost about $18 million, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

A Palm Beach County elementary teacher has faced six investigations over the past several years. She’s fighting to keep her job, the Palm Beach Post reports.

St. Johns County teachers rejected their district’s negotiated pay proposal. Before this vote, the teachers never had turned down a contract offer since its collective bargaining unit was created in 1975, WJXT reports.

Florida education commissioner Manny Diaz announced he will stay on the job during Gov. Ron DeSantis’ second term. He was first appointed about five months ago, Florida Politics reports.

Higher education

Some University of Florida students sued to get their fees returned after the campus shut down during the pandemic. An appellate court rejected their potential class-action lawsuit, the News Service of Florida reports.

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The University of South Florida St. Petersburg has faced challenges since consolidation with other campuses. Its new chancellor is working to maintain the school’s autonomy while fitting into the system.

The Hillsborough County school district has a special program aimed at helping Hispanic students pursue higher education. Over 17 years it’s helped several teens become the first in their families to attend college.

Before you go ... Ringo Starr is 82 and still making music.

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