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Florida education news: Medical marijuana, teacher pay and ‘Hope’ scholarships

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, says it's time to end the state's Best and Brightest teacher bonus program.
Published Oct. 7

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Several Florida school districts are bucking state law requiring them to adopt a policy for student use of medical marijuana. They say the state mandate does not jibe with federal statute. The Florida Department of Education has given them a deadline to comply, or face penalties.

TEACHER BONUSES: The influential chairman of the Florida Senate Appropriations committee files legislation to kill the ‘Best and Brightest’ bonus system. Sen. Rob Bradley’s bill comes soon after Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants to revamp the state’s teacher pay model. Bradley, DeSantis and education commissioner Richard Corcoran are set to appear at an education-related press conference Monday morning in Clay County. DeSantis and Corcoran are then scheduled to appear in Broward and Pinellas counties.

TENSIONS RISE: Marion County School Board members battle with superintendent Heidi Maier’s attorney, whom Maier has named as point person for her administration, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. Maier’s term as elected superintendent is nearing its end, and the board has said it does not intend to hire her.

‘HOPE’ SCHOLARSHIPS: Few south Florida families take advantage of a state voucher to allow students who claim they have been bullied to go to private schools, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES: Broward County officials are collecting school supplies for Bahamian refugees of Hurricane Dorian, who have enrolled in local schools, WPLG reports.

CAREER EDUCATION: Lake County’s Tavares High sees its teaching academy grow as it works to prepare local teens to become educators, the Daily Commercial reports. Lake’s Eustis High launches a construction academy, the Daily Commercial reports.

BUDGET BALANCING: The Volusia County School Board depends on $8 million from reserves to balance its budget, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. Officials will look for ways to reduce that amount as the year progresses.

KEEPING TEACHERS: About half of Polk County’s newly hired teachers have leave the district within five years, the Ledger reports.

CONTRACT TALKS: Brevard County teachers celebrate the successful conclusion of collective bargaining for the year after a contentious set of meetings, Florida Today reports.

IMPEACHMENT LESSONS: Some southwest Florida civics teachers look for ways to teach students about the ongoing presidential impeachment inquiry during politically tense times, WBBH reports.

SICK SCHOOL: A Duval County school gets a deep clean after several students go home with stomach ailments, WJXT reports.

SECOND CHANCE: A Palm Beach County school district administrator fired after having an affair with an employee lands a job as a charter school principal, the Palm Beach Post reports.

BAD ACTS: A Manatee County school district systems engineer resigns after being caught sending lewd videos from his office to his lover, the Bradenton Herald reports.


  1. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    Steve Hegarty spent 10 years as Hillsborough schools public information officer before taking the police department post.
  2. Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins, left, looks on while school board chair Tammy Shamburger speaks on newly raised concerns of a undiscovered cemetery for indigent African Americans that may be within the vicinity of King High School in Tampa, Florida on Friday, October 18, 2019.  OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. Joanne Glenn, Pasco eSchool principal, addresses the eSchool faculty on opening day of teacher preplanning week in 2018. Pasco eSchool is launching its first online dual-enrollment courses in conjunction with Pasco-Hernando State College in the second semester.  GAIL DIEDERICH | Special to the Times
    Students will have access to two sections of two courses — microapplications and public speaking.
  4. Challenger K-8 School students, from left, Jeremy Gonzalez, 13, Jackson Hoyt, 12, Benjamin Harper, 12, and Gianni Labdar, 12, finish meals consisting of fresh salads, quesadillas and nachos during a lunch service on Oct. 15 at the school in Spring Hill during the county's Fresh from Florida Plate Day event. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Starting a farm-to-school initiative has been more complicated than district officials expected.
  5. The University of South Florida revealed a new plan for the school's consolidation Thursday morning. Unlike the first plan presented in September, it promises a high level of authority to leaders on campuses in St. Petersburg, shown here, and Sarasota. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
    Legislators who were critical of the original plan say a new approach revealed Thursday is more in line with their expectations.
  6. Florida K-12 Chancellor Jacob Oliva presents the state's second draft of academic standards revisions during an Oct. 17, 2017, session at Jefferson High School in Tampa. Gov. Ron DeSantis called for the effort in an executive order to remove the Common Core from Florida schools. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times staff
    ‘Our third draft will look different from our second,’ the chancellor explains.
  7. Meaghan Leto, (center facing street), a speech therapist from Twin Lakes Elementary, protests over pay with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association outside of a School Board meeting.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    As expected, the union rejected the district’s plan to add work for middle and high school teachers in exchange for more money.
  9. Pinellas County teachers and their allies rallied at major intersections in 2012 to protest legislative proposals. [Jim Damaske, Times]
    Details are still scant, but the House’s tone was one of being fiscally cautious as they evaluate DeSantis’ pitch to raise base teacher pay.
  10. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2018) Hernando County School District office, 919 N Broad St., Brooksville
    Hernando County debates the pros and cons of superintendent John Stratton’s recommendation.