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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.
Published Aug. 19

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. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  2. Jeff Eakins and MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough's last two superintendents, were hired from inside the school system. So have all others since 1967. Times staff
    Go to the school district website before 8 a.m. Monday to state your case.
  3. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  4. The Pasco County school district would rezone the Seven Oaks subdivision from the Wiregrass Ranch High feeder pattern to the Cypress Creek High feeder pattern, beginning in the 2020-21 school year. Pasco County school district
    The Seven Oaks subdivision is the primary target for rezoning.
  5. Fortify Florida is a new app that allows for anonymous reporting of suspected school threats. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  7. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  8. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  9. This image from a Pinellas County Schools video shows an armed police officer running to respond to a fictional active shooter.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.