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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. From left, Don Haddad, Peter Licata and Addison Davis, all finalists for the job of Hillsborough County school superintendent, met Thursday with community members at Rampello K-8 School. The School Board will choose among the three on Tuesday. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times]
    Addison Davis, Don Haddad and Peter Licata outline their plans for the first 90 days.
  2. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    A man university police believe was target shooting near campus was not located, the university said.
  3. Former state senator John Legg has not ruled out a run for Pasco County schools superintendent. The district is the nation's largest to elect its chief executive.
    Short answer: Maybe.
  4. But the competition isn’t who many people expected it to be.
  5. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. A point tally ranking the three finalists to be Hillsborough County's next school superintendent shows up on a screen in the School Board meeting room Thursday after a meeting that lasted most of the day. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times]
    The last round of interviews is set for Jan. 21.
  7. Rep. Stan McClain, an Ocala Republican, presents a bill that would allow Florida public colleges and universities to sponsor charter schools, during a January 2020 meeting of the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    Alternative authorizers have been found unconstitutional in the past. But that isn’t stopping the effort.
  8. Thousands rallied and marched from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center to the Florida Historic Capitol to demand more money for public schools Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Thousands of school workers from around the state thronged Florida's Capitol on Monday to press Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature to more than double the nearly $1 billion the governor is proposing for teacher raises and bonuses.  (Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat via AP) [TORI LYNN SCHNEIDER  |  AP]
    The PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee cutting exercise would come in nearly 25 percent below Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposal.
  9. Cocoa Police Department video shows A.J. Plonsky being taken to a mental health facility under the Florida Baker Act on his first day of middle school, August 10, 2018.  [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times]
    Never intended to be used on children, the 1970s law in increasingly applied in schools.
  10. Assisted by the Ray and Associates search firm, the Hillsborough County School Board is hiring a new superintendent. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.