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Florida schools seek to save programs as federal funding cliff nears

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
 
Katrina Schneider, Assistant Principal with Curlew Creek Elementary School, explains the Read Across Pinellas program, which the Pinellas County school district started with federal coronavirus relief funding. District officials are seeking other money to keep the program running after the federal grant expires.
Katrina Schneider, Assistant Principal with Curlew Creek Elementary School, explains the Read Across Pinellas program, which the Pinellas County school district started with federal coronavirus relief funding. District officials are seeking other money to keep the program running after the federal grant expires. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Feb. 5

The big story: For three years, schools across Florida and the nation have relied on millions of federal relief dollars to pay for programs, personnel and equipment needed to overcome the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

This fall, the money runs out.

Some school officials have raised concerns about how to deal with the looming “funding cliff,” anticipating cuts across the board. They’re trying to find ways to keep some of things they paid for with the grant. It means setting priorities and making tough decisions. Read more here.

Hot topics

Capacity concerns: About one quarter of Broward County district schools are operating below 70% capacity, the Miami Herald reports. Superintendent Peter Licata is seeking input as he considers solutions, including the possibility of closing schools. More from the Sun-Sentinel.

Classroom technology: A Manatee County private school is embracing the use of artificial technology with its students, the Bradenton Herald reports.

College football: The University of South Florida is getting a quicker than expected start on its plans to build a campus football stadium.

Ethics complaint: The Florida Commission on Ethics cited Polk County School Board member Lori Cunningham for a conflict of interest, because her business sold uniform shirts to local schools, Lake Wales News reports.

Library books: The Hernando County School Board will consider the fate of three challenged books when it meets Tuesday, Suncoast News reports. Advisory committees recommended keeping all three.

Moms for Liberty: Leaders of the Moms for Liberty organization said they want to focus their energy on influencing state laws while also supporting changes on school boards, Florida Phoenix reports.

Reading lessons: An experimental private school in Palm Beach County relies on smaller classes, empowered teachers and art projects to help teach children to read, WPEC reports.

School board politics: There’s a website touting a former Fort Lauderdale city commissioner candidacy for Broward County school board, but she hasn’t decided what to do yet, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Hopefuls are jockeying for a Brevard County School Board seat where the incumbent has been pushed out through redistricting, Florida Today reports.

School days: Two Alachua County elementary schools will adopt a year-round academic calendar, affecting about 900 students, the Gainesville Sun reports. More from Main Street Daily News.

Superintendents: Citrus County superintendent Sam Himmel announced she will retire after 20 years in the job, and threw her support behind assistant superintendent Scott Hebert, Florida Politics reports. • Two candidates are vying to replace retiring Sumter County superintendent Richard Shirley, Villages News reports.

Teacher housing: Monroe County school district officials are seeking millions of dollars from the state to help pay for development of affordable housing for teachers, Key West Citizen reports.

Top teachers: Math teacher Jaime Suarez is Hernando County 2025 Teacher of the Year, the Hernando Sun reports. • High school math teacher Jennifer Brown is Marion County 2024 Teacher of the Year, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. • Fourth-grade teacher Jennifer McGee is Escambia County 2024 Teacher of the Year, WEAR reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take up bills to restrict social media accounts for children (SB 1788) and online access of materials harmful to minors (SB 1792) when it meets at 2:30 p.m.

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

Before you go ... It’s been almost 40 years since the music stars aligned to record “We Are the World.” Netflix recently released a documentary on how the award-winning song came together. Ventriloquist Terry Fator marked the anniversary with a puppet tribute.