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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, 2019

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. 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.