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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]
Published Aug. 23

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

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  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.
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