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Florida education news: Teacher workload, superintendent search, and active shooter drills

A roundup of stories from around the state.
This image from a Pinellas County Schools video shows an armed police officer running to respond to a fictional active shooter.
Published Sep. 19

TEACHER PAY: How much extra work are teachers willing to take on for a pay raise? The Pasco County school district will soon find out, as it places a controversial two-year salary plan on the negotiating table. The School Board has included 3 percent raises in its budget.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: Hillsborough County parents and other residents begin to offer their input on what they’d like to see in the district’s next chief executive. Will former leader MaryEllen Elia be a contender? Not likely, as she’s just taken a new consulting job with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

‘SCARED TO DEATH’: Some Florida parents and lawmakers call for a reduction in school active shooter drills, Florida Phoenix reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A Leon County charter school that almost didn’t get approved now has a location and a principal, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

COLLEGE CHANGES: Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran pushes for funding and other changes in the state’s college system as a way to heighten their success, the News Service of Florida reports.

HELPING HAND: A community foundation establishes a new grant to support Duval County teachers, the Florida Times-Union reports.

TAX FUNDS: Added revenue from the Manatee County school district’s new local-option property tax increase will pay for more than teacher raises, the Bradenton Herald reports.

STUDENT ATHLETES: The House PreK-12 Innovation committee talks about health concerns for student athletes, without reaching any conclusions, Florida Politics reports.

SUPERINTENDENT EVALUATION: Palm Beach County superintendent Donald Fennoy gets a ‘highly effective’ rating from his board, putting him in line for a raise, the Palm Beach Post reports.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL: Florida Virtual School, recently taken over by the state, hires new executives with little education experience but strong ties to the Republican party, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

NEW SCHOOLS: Plans for a new K-8 school to serve a growing part of St. Johns County run into siting problems, the St. Augustine Record reports.

ARRESTED: Two Osceola County students are arrested on accusations of plotting to shoot up a middle school, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • Ten Hillsborough County students are arrested after a series of fights at Lennard High School, Fox 13 reports.

TODAY: House PreK-12 Appropriations, 9:30 a.m. On the agenda: Budget priorities. • House Higher Education, 9:30 a.m. On the agenda: Educational reform in the college system.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Adjunct faculty at St. Petersburg College voted to unionize Tuesday, joining thousands of other adjuncts across Florida who are fighting for better working conditions and pay. [Times]
    The employees are the seventh group in Florida to join Service Employees International Union in recent yeas as it pushes for investment in the state’s higher education institutions.
  2. The University of South Florida ranked ahead of UCF, FIU and FAU in the U.S. News & World Report's Global University Rankings. [USF handout]
    The University of Florida finished 105th, while USF came in at 310. Harvard led the world.
  3. Workers begin construction in 2010 on what would become Winding Waters K-8. That was the last new public school built in Hernando County, which faces capacity strains as officials ask for impact fee increases to keep up with growth. HERNANDO TODAY PHOTO BY HAYLEY M  |  Hernando Today
    The district first would add classrooms at three existing schools, but could need four new schools by 2039.
  4. Rep. Bruce Antone, D-Orlando, says the Legislative Black Caucus will prioritize both public education and school choice during the 2020 Florida session. The caucus held a news conference on Oct. 22, 2019. The Florida Channel
    The caucus announced its 2020 goals for justice, housing and other key issues, as well, with members saying they will stick together to pursue them.
  5. Pre-season baseball practice at Wesley Chapel High School. Lawmakers want to ensure student-athletes remain safe in the Florida heat as they participate in high school sports. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    PreK-12 Innovation chairman Rep. Ralph Massullo expects legislation requiring some ‘simple things.’
  6. First-year Cox Elementary School teacher Kevin Knibbs, 33, of Dade City, answers questions about the components of time: hours, minutes, seconds, to his third-grade class on Monday, September 30, 2019, at the school in Date City. From left are students Angel Young, 8, Arlene Luna, 8, and Jahkia Gray, 8. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. First-year Cox Elementary School teacher Kevin Knibbs, 33, of Dade City, walks with students Angel Young, 8, left, and Kaivion Williams, 9, right, while en route to his third-grade class on Sept. 30 at the school in Date City. Knibbs decided to become an educator after working as a school custodian. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Kevin Knibbs never thought about working with students — until he started interacting with them.
  8. Former Pasco County Corrections Officer Wendy Miller, 57 runs towards gunfire with instructor Chris Squitieri during active shooter drills taught by Pasco County Sheriff's Office at Charles S. Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes. These drills are put are a larger training program for the Guardian program that will staff elementary schools with trained armed guards.  LUIS SANTANA   |   Times "LUIS SANTANA  |  TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The change is a reversal of a previous move by the department, which specifically excluded armed teachers from its policy.
  9. Bayonet Point Middle School teacher Cynthia Thompson wants to become Pasco County schools superintendent. Courtesy of Cynthia Thompson
    Cynthia Thompson is a graduation enhancement instructor at Bayonet Point Middle School.
  10. Yesterday• Gradebook
    Hillsborough High School Senior Anthony Allen with principal Gary Brady, Principal U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine Sullivan, and schools superintendent Jeff Eakins. MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff
    Hillsborough accepts its share of a federal grant.