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Florida education news: Preschool, civics lessons and teacher contracts

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Goodwill's BookWorks preschool literacy program strives to instill a love of reading and helps provide children books.
Published Sep. 18

EARLY EDUCATION: The state of prekindergarten and other early learning programs in Florida is on tap to get a closer look by lawmakers in the 2020 legislative session, as the House Education committee makes the topic its first order of business in pre-session meetings.

ENROLLMENT DECLINES: Several Hillsborough County elementary schools see drops in student numbers, although campuses in the southeastern part of the district continue to grow.

CAREER EDUCATION: The Pasco County school district continues to search for a career-technical education director as it aims to give higher priority to the programs.

SCHOOL ATTACK: A Polk County family has questions about how their son was brutally attacked in school, and what is being done to protect children. They say they’ve received few answers.

NO JOKE: The state Department of Juvenile Justice launches a campaign to remind students and parents that making threats against schools carries severe consequences, TC Palm reports.

CIVICS: Florida leads the nation in the resurgence of civics education, offering examples of how to make it work but also about the limitations in testing the standards, Education Week reports.

BOARD PAY: Broward and Palm Beach county school board members face a pay cut as their districts belatedly implement state law saying that member salaries may not exceed those of first-year teachers, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

SUPERINTENDENTS: The Volusia Count school district receives 15 completed applications for its superintendent vacancy, including from several local educators, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • Palm Beach County superintendent Donald Fennoy faces his first performance evaluation, the Palm Beach Post reports. • Sarasota County superintendent Todd Bowden receives an overall ‘highly effective’ rating from his board, despite strong negative marks from some members, the Herald-Tribune reports.

TAXES: The Duval County School Board joins forces with the local teachers union to sue the Jacksonville City Council to force a district sales tax referendum, which the council has blocked, the Florida Times-Union reports. A group of Duval parents filed a similar suit the day before.

NEGOTIATIONS: Brevard County teacher representatives walk out of contract talks after the district officials reject most of their pay demands, Florida Today reports.

BUDGETS: The Alachua County School Board approves a spending plan with a tax rate increase, the Gainesville Sun reports.

FUNDING: State Sen. Janet Cruz files legislation to allow school districts that do not employ guardians to use that dedicated revenue source on other security expenses, Florida Politics reports. • State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. refiles legislation to give senior citizens a break on local school taxes, Florida Politics reports.

OVERSIGHT: An organization that helps people with disabilities find jobs faces continued scrutiny by the state Department of Education, which has demanded changes in the group amid allegations of misuse of funding, the News Service of Florida reports.

LET THE MUSIC PLAY: Citrus High School’s new band director finds ways to nearly double student participation, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

REBUILDING: The Bay County school district breaks ground for a new gym at Jinks Middle School, which became a symbol of the devastation from Hurricane Michael, the Panama City News Herald reports.

CONCURRENCY: A member of the Orange County Charter Review Commission proposes a charter amendment to require new schools if an existing campus is chronically overcrowded, Florida Politics reports.

TODAY: House Higher Education Appropriations, 3 p.m. On the agenda: Budget priorities. • House PreK-12 Innovation, 3 p.m. On the agenda: Health concerns for student athletes.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Chanell Newell, a reading teacher at Woodson K-8 School, is a finalist for Hillsborough Teacher of the Year. HCPS  |  HCPS
    The winners will be announced on Jan. 23.
  2. A school bus travels the early morning streets of Pasco County on the way to the first day of classes in 2017.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. Transgender student Drew Adams speaks with reporters outside of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Adam's fight over school restrooms came before a federal appeals court Thursday, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High in Ponte Vedra, Fla., won a lower court ruling last year ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. The district has since appealed. RON HARRIS  |  AP
    The closely watched case of Drew Adams, once a high school student in Florida, is heard by a three-judge panel in Atlanta.
  4. Representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco, on the left, present their latest pay request to the district's bargaining team during talks on Oct. 24, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Teachers have yet to reach a deal on their contract.
  5. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. It has met just once more since then. The Florida Channel
    Lawmakers have yet to set an aggressive agenda beyond talk of teacher pay as the 2020 legislative session nears.
  6. FILE - In a Monday, Dec. 11, 2017 file photo, transgender teen Drew Adams, left, leaves the U. S. Courthouse with his mother Erica Adams Kasper after the first day of his trial about bathroom rights at Nease High School, in Jacksonville, Fla. The transgender student's fight over school bathrooms comes before a federal appeals court Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Drew Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, won a lower court ruling in 2018 ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP, File) WILL DICKEY  |  AP
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. A bird's-eye view of USF St. Petersburg, which this week announced a new member of the Campus Board. She is Melissa Seixas, a Duke Energy executive who earned her master's degree at USF.
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  8. An LGBTQ Pride march participant walks under a large rainbow flag in New York earlier this year. School Board policy regarding LGBTQ students has been a frequent topic of discussion in recent months in Pasco County. CRAIG RUTTLE  |  AP
    The discourse is more civil and respectful, two weeks after a session that many deemed hate-filled and vile.
  9. The Florida Legislature so far has has left Gov. Ron DeSantis to set most education policy priorities for 2020.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. "Miss Virginia," a film about school choice, will be screened at the Tampa Theatre on Dec. 10.
    “Miss Virginia” will be playing at the Tampa Theater on Tuesday.