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Florida education news: Charter schools, transgender rights, public comment and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Students at Kid's Community College, a Riverview charter school, make their way onto a basketball court for recess on May 11, 2016.
Students at Kid's Community College, a Riverview charter school, make their way onto a basketball court for recess on May 11, 2016.
Published Sep. 11

CHARTER SCHOOLS: Student enrollment in Hillsborough County public schools continues to grow, but largely in charter schools. The publicly funded, privately run schools now account for 12.7 percent of the district’s population, up from 7.3 percent five years ago.

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS: The Pasco County school district scraps its controversial 71-page ‘best practices’ guide for the treatment of LGBTQ students. The new one-page reference sheet maintains the protections that have motivated conservative critics to pressure the School Board for new policy.

BUDGETS: The Pinellas County School Board adopts its final 2019-20 budget with a reduced property tax rate. • The Orange County School Board approves its budget without knowing how much it will be paying teachers, Spectrum 13 reports. Other districts adopting budgets include Charlotte, Citrus

PUBLIC COMMENT: The Hillsborough County School Board decides to again broadcast the public comment section of its business meetings, after having removed them to allow residents to speak ‘privately’ to the board at the public sessions.

EARLY RELEASE: Pasco County students will have their first early release day, so teachers can participate in training. • The Hillsborough County school district cancels all its remaining first semester early release days to make up time missed because of Hurricane Dorian.

LOSING PATIENCE: Some Hillsborough County School Board members want to know how long they have to wait to see academic improvement at the district’s most struggling schools.

STUDENT PRIVACY: State audits indicate that too many school employees have access to student Social Security numbers without needing them, Fresh Take Florida reports. The state is working to protect the information.

SCHOOL OVERHAULS: A Leon County school serving a high poverty area begins offering added services as it converts to a community school, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. • A Bay County elementary school will expand to become a K-8 campus to serve anticipated growth at a nearby air base, WJHG reports.

‘DATA CULTURE’: Florida schools increasingly rely on student testing and assessment data to guide their instructional decisions, with a goal of boosting their state grades, Florida Politics reports.

HACKED: The Wakulla County school district’s email system is shut down after hackers invade, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

‘IN GOD WE TRUST’: The Manatee County school district finally gets around to adopting a policy following a state requirement to post the state motto in all schools, the Bradenton Herald reports.

IN COURT: The private company fired amid accusations its training of Palm Beach County school guardians was inadequate sues the district, saying its training met district demands, the Palm Beach Post reports.

ON THE FIELD: All Duval County high schools now have full-time athletic trainers, meeting a goal set four years ago, the Florida Times-Union reports.

SECURITY: Broward County school safety officials detail all the security improvements made to schools since the Parkland shooting, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

WASTE NOT: A Polk pastor and teacher urge the school district to adopt ‘share tables’ in cafeterias, where students can place unused food items for others to take, the Ledger reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins, shown at Mort Elementary School in 2016, is retiring effective June 30. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
    Jeff Eakins, the current superintendent, is retiring, effective June 30.
  2. Hillsborough county parents can check the district's website for their child's bus route and their school's bus schedule. Visit, click the link under "Preparing for Back to School," then find the links for "Bus Schedule" and "Bus Availability." For more information, call (813) 982-5500. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times]
    Our running list of the candidates to replace superintendent Jeff Eakins includes top educators with a wide range of experience.
  3. Tricia McManus, an assistant superintendent for the Hillsborough County School District, rolled out the district's new Achievement Zone plan for struggling schools at a community meeting in 2018. The word "zone" was removed early on. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
    Tricia McManus will become a deputy superintendent in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
  4. A vigil at Pine Trails Park in Parkland for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. Some schools have already closed for the holidays, but everyone should be off by the end of the day Dec. 20. [Times (2015)]
    Some schools are closing for the holidays this week; others won’t be done for a few days. Then it’s lights out until early January.
  6. This Feb. 19 photo shows a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File]
    The grand jury said districts are creating “unnecessary chaos” and have become “experts at data manipulation.”
  7. Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis with Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Sheriff Chad Chronister speaking at Hillsborough High School on Thursday, Dec. 12. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    If students feel supported, educators say, schools will be safer and more productive
  8. Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, presents his bill on civics education to the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee on Dec. 11, 2019. The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport,’ sponsor Rep. Ben Diamond reminds colleagues.
  9. Haley Manigold, second from left, and Armwood High School classmates Maria Medina and Madison Harvey take a photo with Sen. Tom Lee, who is sponsoring their legislation, and teacher Tony Pirotta.  They presented their bill in the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 9, 2019. [EMILY L. MAHONEY  |  Times Staff]
    Armwood High senior Haley Manigold discusses her effort to convince lawmakers to adopt testing legislation.
  10. Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
    Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said she thinks Republican leaders want to keep the number under wraps because it points to the controversial program’s “failure.”