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Florida education news: Funding, kindergarten readiness, high school football and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Prekindergarten students at James B. Sanderlin IB World School in St. Petersburg, show the peace sign during an assembly in 2012.
Prekindergarten students at James B. Sanderlin IB World School in St. Petersburg, show the peace sign during an assembly in 2012.
Published Aug. 19, 2019

PER-STUDENT SPENDING: For the first time, the Florida Department of Education breaks down per-student spending by school instead of just by district. The list, required by federal law, shows some discrepancies among similar schools in the same districts.

KINDERGARTEN READINESS: The Florida Board of Education will consider adding learning gains to the formula used to determine if prekindergarten providers are adequately preparing their students.

HIGHER EXPECTATIONS: Hillsborough County schools superintendent Jeff Eakins says he does not believe his district has more high schools pushing out low-performing students. He made his comments in light of a scathing report about the action Spoto High School’s former principal.

PUBLIC COMMENT: First Amendment experts take issue with the Manatee County School Board’s policy to silence certain speakers at meetings, the Bradenton Herald reports.

GAME ON: The Lee County school district resolves its pay dispute with high school football referees, ending the officials’ walkout, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

SECURITY: The final Broward County charter school without a trained security officer hires one, WSVN reports. The district had planned to recommend the closure of the school after facing strong criticism from the state school public safety commission, WPLG reports. • The commission also criticized the Palm Beach County school district for hiring a private firm to train charter school guards rather than relying on the local Sheriff’s Office, the Palm Beach Post reports. • A state lawmaker calls for mandated panic alarms in all schools, Florida Politics reports.

CONSTRUCTION FUNDS: The Marion County School Board urges state lawmakers to find added money for needed construction and maintenance projects, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. As one idea, it suggested expanding the tax supporting PECO to include cell phones.

MISSING ANSWER SHEETS: Eighteen students from Florida and Alabama learn their ACT tests are lost, North reports.

READING LIST: The Florida Department of Education’s new recommended reading list gets blasted on social media for its lack of diversity, School Library Journal reports.

PAY RAISE: The Osceola County School Board approves raises for several non-instructional employees, the Osceola News-Gazette reports.

CIVICS STANDARDS: The Florida Department of Education seeks public input as it begins to review the academic requirements for civics courses, as Gov. Ron DeSantis has requested, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

NO WALKOUT: Students at a Manatee County charter school recently taken over by the school district call off a planned walkout amid rain and talk that they could be arrested, the Herald-Tribune reports.

SHERIFFS’ MESSAGES: The Martin County Sheriff’s Office warns local students not to use texting and social media to disrupt school events, TC Palm reports. • The Citrus County sheriff tells residents that a man who made threats against an elementary school posed no credible threat, Fox 13 reports. • Lee and Collier sheriffs say they take school threats seriously, which means students who make them could face felony charges, the Naples Daily News reports.

TURNAROUNDS: The contractor charged with making improvements to Marion County’s Evergreen Elementary removes 12 employees who she said were unhappy with coming changes. A School Board member has concerns about the action, noting most of the workers were black, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

TAX DISPUTES: Duval County’s election supervisor says the school district’s ability to hold a November tax special election is becoming less likely because of logistics, Florida Politics reports. • A Clay County judge rules the County Commission acted appropriately in delaying the school district’s sales tax referendum until a regular election, the Florida Times-Union reports.

BOARD ELECTIONS: Several Duval County elected officials pan a lawmaker’s proposal to make the School Board an appointed position, Florida Daily reports.

FINAL GRADES: The Volusia County School Board changes the district’s policy for calculating student grades in courses with state end-of-course exams, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

SCHOOL MERGER: The Polk County school district will hold a meeting to discuss a proposal combining two elementary schools, the Ledger reports.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Miami-Dade County students return to classes, a week after most other districts began, the Miami Herald reports.

GROWTH: St. Johns County school district officials become more adept at handling student influxes amid another year of rapid enrollment growth, the St. Augustine Record reports.

GETTING THERE: The Leon County school district’s student transportation system suffered a massive fail in the first week back. The Tallahassee Democrat reports what happened.

FLOODED OUT: The Dixie County school district cancels classes because of area flooding, WCJB reports.


  1. First Lady Casey DeSantis talks with students during the Hope for Healing a mental and substance abuse initiative held Roland Park K-8 School in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said state officials worked closely with DeSantis to craft the new rule. OCTAVIO JONES | Times
  2. In this Feb. 14, 2018, photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after a shooter opened fire on the campus.
  3. Pinellas County School Board member Carol Cook, left, celebrates her reelection to her fifth term in 2016. If ultimately approved, a term limits proposal would force Florida's school board members out after two consecutive terms.
  4. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini fields questions on the House floor on Feb. 19, 2020, about his proposal to ask voters to limit school board member terms.
  5. Chicken and vegetable dumplings with soy sauce were offered to students to test during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste-testing, Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at Pinellas Technical College. Twenty-eight new food items were tested and rated.  Some will be added to next year's school menus.
  6. Patrick Suiters, 10, left, and Gabriel Stanford, 9, both fourth-graders at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin, fill out a survey after tasting falafel tots and nuggets during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste test at Pinellas Technical College. About 120 students tasted and rated 28 new food items that could be added to school breakfast and lunch menus next year.
  7. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
  8. The Pinellas County school system is offering driver education camps to hundreds of students like this one over the summer. The program will be held over two sessions at nine high school campuses across the county.
  9. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020.
  10. Incoming Hillsborough School Superintendent Addison Davis (center), School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) and the other board members pose as Davis signs his contract with the district on Tuesday night. The board unanimously approved the contract beforehand.
  11. Jarvis Delon West was arrested on child neglect charges after he didn't report an employee at AMI Kids who slammed a boy to the ground, according to police.
  12. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)