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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.
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

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Melissa Snively and Steve Cona III are the new chair and vice chair of the Hillsborough County School Board. MARLENE   |  Times staff
    Steve Cona III is vice chair.
  2. Hillsborough County School Board member Karen Perez MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff
    School board member Karen Perez sees student stress in her social work practice.
  3. Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at pre-legislative news conference on Tuesday Oct. 29, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    He’s got a new voucher proposal, as well.
  4. Pasco school bus drivers are among those school-related employees who would get a 3.25 percent raise under a tentative contract agreement for 2019-20.
    District, union attention now turns to teacher contracts.
  5. Teacher Kate Newell watches seventh graders Aaron Roxberry and Jacob Iovino practice the slope-intercept formula in one of her weekly visits to their Bayonet Point Middle algebra class, which Newell usually teaches remotely. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. eSchool teacher Kate Newell holds a discussion-based assessment with eighth-grader Ariana Toro during a recent visit to Bayonet Point Middle School. Newell leads the math course remotely most days, but comes to campus at least once weekly to give her students some extra attention. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Principals increasingly turn to virtual instruction to fill their vacancies.
  7. Victoria Arriaga, left, does a letter-matching activity during Priscilla Perez's pre-kindergarten class at West Tampa Elementary School in 2018.  [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
    Reading proficiency, however, continues to be a challenge.
  8. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing $1 billion in increased teacher pay as part of a $91.4 billion state budget he put forward on Monday. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    The Florida governor also wants to hire hundreds of new corrections officers and spend $1.4 billion on hurricane recovery.
  9. Damian J. Fernandez, center, is introduced Monday as the new president of Eckerd College. He will succeed longtime president Donald R. Eastman III on July 1. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Damian Fernandez, 62, will succeed president Donald R. Eastman III, who steps down June 30 after leading the school for 19 years.
  10. The Florida Department of Education has approved another alternate assessment for third graders to demonstrate they read at or above grade level.
    The state also reminds schools to let those who struggle that scholarships for help are available.
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