School choice grows in one of Florida’s hottest districts

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Charter schools such as IDEA Victory, shown here in 2021, now account for 17% of Hillsborough County school enrollment.
Charter schools such as IDEA Victory, shown here in 2021, now account for 17% of Hillsborough County school enrollment. [ IDEA | Handout ]
Published Sept. 18|Updated Sept. 18

The big story: Anyone wondering how strong of a pull school choice has in Florida needs to look no further than Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough, home to the nation’s seventh largest school district, has seen its population boom since the pandemic. It has one of the hottest real estate markets around.

Yet the school system has seen its enrollment decrease by hundreds of children. Meanwhile charter schools have blossomed by more than 2,500, and nearly 1,000 youngsters who previously attended public schools were awarded vouchers for private education. Read more here.

In Escambia County, a Catholic high school is adding classrooms after seeing a spike in voucher-funded enrollment, WEAR reports.

More school news

The Florida Department of Education faces questions over its use of a federal grant for designing well-rounded educational opportunities. It has used the money to pay a division head who has been trying to help right-leaning school board members gain traction in their policy efforts, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Education commissioner Manny Diaz Jr.’s response on X-Twitter: “Cry more!”

Hillsborough County students will have a hurricane makeup day on Dec. 18. An early release day now will be a full school day, WFLA reports.

Close to 150 Duval County school district bus routes were delayed Friday. It happened because of an abnormally high number of driver absences, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Palm Beach County’s dual language immersion courses are getting new translated materials. Teachers previously had to do the translating themselves, WPTV reports.

A Leon County high school principal is on unpaid suspension over violating district policies. Joe Burgess fought the action in court but lost his effort, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Lee County teachers have filed a class action grievance against the district. They claim they are being asked to work extra time without being paid, WINK reports.

From the police blotter ... A Polk County high school track coach has been arrested on accusations of sexual battery on a student, Bay News 9 reports.

In higher ed

College rankings: Several Florida universities fell in their annual ranking from US News & World Report. This year’s list followed a new methodology. • School president Richard McCullough said it’s important not to be dependent on rankings as a measure of quality, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. • More from the Palm Beach Post.

Equity and equality: The State University System Board of Governors is considering a proposal to stop reporting student enrollment by race and gender, Florida Phoenix reports.

Broward College: Trustees did not accept president Gregory Haile’s unexpected resignation, which he tendered when new members were appointed to the board, WLRN reports. More from the Miami Herald.

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New College: Richard Corcoran, interim president at New College fielded questions about his effort to transform the school into a more conservative campus during a luncheon at the Tiger Bay Club of Tampa, Scripps Media reports. Some in attendance said they viewed him as whitewashing the truth about what’s happening at the school.

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

Before you go ... It’s high school football season in Florida, which also means it’s marching band season. Ever wondered what it’s like to be on the field at halftime? Check out the trombone-cam from Sickles High, which has one of the area’s largest and most decorated bands. They’re doing an Elton John show this year.

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