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Florida education news: Budgets, school threats, right-wing donors and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Florida Board of Education members Ben Gibson and Michael Olenick review the board's $22 billion legislative budget request during a Aug. 21 meeting in Broward County. [The Florida Channel]
Florida Board of Education members Ben Gibson and Michael Olenick review the board's $22 billion legislative budget request during a Aug. 21 meeting in Broward County. [The Florida Channel]
Published Aug. 23, 2019

DIFFERING PRIORITIES: As Florida Board of Education members mostly praise their administration’s 2020-21 legislative budget request, which includes increases for vouchers and charter schools, teachers blast the board for doing a poor job and urge them to support public education.

ON EDGE: A Pinellas County high school is one of many to see a student arrested after threatening violence. (There have been so many, we’re not even going to list them all here.) But it certainly offers an insight into why a Polk County high school would suspend a teacher for describing to students the potential carnage he would inflict if he were a shooter, at the same time the school went through an active shooter drill, as Fox 13 reports.

MENTAL HEALTH: Florida school districts keep working on the details of how to incorporate five hours of mental health instruction into classes for every student this year, the Palm Beach Post reports.

DUAL ENROLLMENT: Sarasota County students stay away from their school district’s new dual enrollment program with USF Sarasota-Manatee, the Charlotte Sun reports.

PATHWAYS: The Polk County school district helps more than 500 students earn GED’s through alternate schooling, the Ledger reports.

CURRICULUM CHANGES: The Cape Coral Charter School system adds new curriculum to help improve student performance, the Cape Coral Daily Breeze reports.

CHARTER FEUD: Students at a Manatee County charter school recently taken over by the district plan a walkout to protest the takeover, as district officials implement security plans that might prevent the protest, the Bradenton Herald reports.

HELPING THE HOMELESS: The Marion County school district revamps its department that assists homeless students in a move to improve accountability, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

THE POLITICS OF STANDARDS: State lawmakers included the conservative Hillsdale College in the list of organizations to be consulted as Florida revises its civics standards, Florida Phoenix reports. The school has ties to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, as well as to charter schools in Florida started by the spouses of influential current and former lawmakers.

PLEDGE DISPUTE: A Duval County high school teacher has been removed indefinitely after criticizing students who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, the Florida Times-Union reports.

NEW SCHOOLS: A planned new Escambia County elementary school will bear the name of the campus it is slated to replace, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

GETTING THERE: A Leon County parent calls 911 to report a school bus that didn’t pick up a group of young students on time, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. Families have been highly critical of the district’s transportation changes this fall.

ENROLLMENT: Bay County school enrollment dips 12.3 percent from a year ago, but some schools that remain open see their student numbers rise, the Panama City News Herald reports. The district shuttered four campuses after Hurricane Michael devastated the region.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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)
  6. Prekindergarten students at James B. Sanderlin IB World School in St. Petersburg, show the peace sign during an assembly in 2012. New state data show children in prekindergarten are better prepared for kindergarten than those who don't attend.
  7. Leon County fifth-grader Ingrid Hanley asks the Senate Education Committee not to adopt legislation that would get tougher on D-rated schools, during a Feb. 17, 2020, session.
  8. Nadia King, 6, is smiles for a photo. The special-needs student was taken from school Feb. 4 and placed in a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act, and now her mother and a team of attorneys are asking why.
  9. The Voluntary Prekindergarten room is one feature of the new Bardmoor Branch of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. The location also includes a child-care center and Preschool Academy.
  10. FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooter opened fire on the campus. School districts continue to improve their security plans in the aftermath. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)
  11. Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis (wearing a pink tie), center, takes photos with the  Hillsborough County Public Schools board members after being voted unaminous as the new incoming superintendent in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
  12. University of Florida students walk through Turlington Plaza in between classes on Thursday afternoon, February 13, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla.