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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. Student activists with the March For Our Lives group, founded after the Feb. 2018 Parkland shooting, hold a banner that promotes their new "peace plan" to prevent gun violence, while demonstrating in the rotunda of the state capitol building in Tallahassee. Emily L. Mahoney | Times
    The 18-year-old student director of March for Our Lives Florida said school shootings are so common they are “not shocking” anymore.
  2. Steven Currall prepares to deliver an address during his investiture as the University of South Florida's seventh president Thursday at the Yuengling Center in Tampa. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    Though he started the job in July, Steve Currall is officially installed as president on his 137th day in office.
  3. Gov. Ron DeSantis greets local officials at Dunedin High School on Oct. 7, 2019, part of a swing around the state to announce his plan to boost starting teacher pay in Florida to $47,500. He revealed a related teacher bonus plan on Nov. 14 in Vero Beach. MEGAN REEVES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The new plan would replace the controversial Best and Brightest model that DeSantis had called confusing.
  4. Cotee River Elementary student Darrell Jones waves his American flag during the school's Veterans Day program.
    The School Board is scheduled to vote on the calendar next week.
  5. Pasco eSchool principal JoAnne Glenn is surprised by school district officials who announced she is their 2020 Principal of the Year. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    A discussion with Pasco County Principal of the Year JoAnne Glenn.
  6. An investiture ceremony is set for Thursday at 2 p.m. inside USF’s Yuengling Center in Tampa. Currall and other USF leaders will speak about the school’s future.
  7. Experts are recommending the flu shot as outbreaks pop up in Hillsborough County schools.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. The Pasco County school district is considering an increase in substitute teacher pay to combat its low fill rate for the jobs.
    District officials say more competitive wages could help fill vacancies, which have been rising.
  9. JoAnne Glenn is cheered by her staff as deputy superintendent Ray Gadd and other district officials surprise her with the announcement that she is Pasco County's 2020 Principal of the Year. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    JoAnne Glenn next will be entered for the statewide honor.
  10. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning briefly blocked a critic from his social media accounts. He has since restored access to the person but says he would rather they have a conversation, “like two grown adults.” [Times (2016)]
    Kurt Browning restored his online nemesis as a Twitter follower and Facebook friend after staffers told him that blocking people was a no-no.