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Expecting pushback, Florida school boards work to perfect boundary changes

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
McLane Middle School in Brandon is one of the Hillsborough County schools that could see its attendance boundaries revised. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
McLane Middle School in Brandon is one of the Hillsborough County schools that could see its attendance boundaries revised. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times]
Published Dec. 6, 2022

The big news: Ask any school board member, and they’ll tell you that redrawing attendance zones ranks among the most difficult decisions of the job.

Particularly when no new schools are being added to the equation, families fight changes that might send their children to different locations, perhaps closing campuses that have housed traditions and memories for generations.

The Hillsborough County board faces that scenario as it aims to balance its enrollments and operate more efficiently. Community discussions were expected to ensue soon. Then board chairperson Nadia Combs had a different thought. Read the latest here.

Hot topics

Student health: Participation in required school vaccinations hit a ten-year low in Florida, the News Service of Florida reports. • A Flagler County teacher frustrated by vandalism threatened to cut off student access to restrooms, Flagler Live reports. District officials disavowed the message, noting restroom use is a right not a privilege.

Superintendents: The Brevard County School Board approved an agreement for superintendent Mark Mullins to depart at the end of the year, WKMG reports. The board’s new majority pushed out Mullins at its first meeting together. • A survey of teachers showed overwhelming support for Sarasota County superintendent Brennan Asplen, who is being forced out by the School Board, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Teacher vacancies: As more Orange County teachers leave their jobs, parents are urging the school district to do more to retain them, WKMG reports.

Legislative leadership: Newly elected lawmakers claimed chairperson roles on key Senate committees including Education, Florida Politics reports. • Women were left out of House committee chairperson posts, though a few will lead education subcommittees, Florida Phoenix reports.

Hurricane recovery: Parents at Fort Myers Beach Elementary are demanding the Lee County school district do more to get their children’s school rebuilt after Hurricane Ian, WFTX reports. The school has sat vacant and boarded up since the storm.

Higher education: Florida’s university and college presidents will gather in Tallahassee for a closed-door discussion about strategies and goals, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. It’s the first time for such a meeting.

Gender issues: A group of Duval County parents, teachers and students are calling for the school district to reestablish ties with an LGBTQ advocacy group that has provided materials to schools, WJXT reports.

Discipline: Brevard County civil rights activists are calling upon the School Board to adopt a student discipline approach that does not discriminate against students of color, Spectrum 13 reports. Some leaders raised concerns after board and law enforcement officials announced plans to toughen the code of conduct and its enforcement.

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Board politics: The Palm Beach County School Board reelected its leadership after swearing in its new members, WLRN reports. Incumbents successfully turned back challenges from conservative candidates. • A new state law that bars school board members from lobbying could force out a Miami-Dade County board member, leaving room for Gov. Ron DeSantis to appoint a replacement, the Miami Herald reports. (Subscription required)

From the police blotter ... A Pinellas County charter school teacher was arrested on accusations of unlawful sexual activity with a minor student.

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

Before you go ... Who doesn’t remember the school egg drop competition? It recently was the topic of an “Abbott Elementary” episode. This cool CrunchLabs video offers an interesting look at the engineering behind dropping an egg — to the earth from space! Check it out.

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