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Florida education news: School police, teacher contracts and a Common Core debate

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Pinellas Sheriff's trainers line the back of the room as more than 100 school security officers, or "guardians," began training.
Published Oct. 10

SCHOOL SECURITY: Hernando County school district officials are divided in their opinions over whether to create a district police force. The administration proposed the idea as a way to bring more officers into the schools. • The Clay County School Board directs its superintendent to find security solutions for the county’s two charter schools, Clay Today reports.

CONTRACT TALKS: Hillsborough County teachers reach a tentative agreement with the district, including a proposal to increase starting teacher pay to $40,000.

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Incumbent Pasco County School Board member Colleen Beaudoin announces her reelection bid.

SIDELINES: The FHSAA reduces its suspension of Plant High School football coach Robert Weiner, accused of providing special treatment to a player. Weiner received praise statewide for helping a player find a temporary home, even as the FHSAA penalized him for doing so. • The Pasco County school district immediately closes some bleachers at two high schools because of structural concerns.

COMMON CORE: Teachers at a public hearing in Seminole County tell Florida Department of Education leaders that the standards proposed to replace the Common Core in the state’s schools would represent a step backward, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • Some speakers at a Highlands County hearing on the standards warn against adopting vague replacements, and say schools will need time to prepare for whatever emerges, the Highlands News-Sun reports. • The next public session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Alachua County school district office.

TEACHER PAY: Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie says the state should focus whatever teacher pay plan it devises on all teachers and not just on the entry level positions, Florida Politics reports.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: The Escambia County School Board works on setting criteria for selecting its first appointed superintendent, WUWF reports. • The Volusia County School Board asks its seven remaining candidates for superintendent to write some essays, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

IN COURT: A federal court approves a settlement allowing Collier County students turned away from school because of limited English skills to appeal the refusal, Florida Politics reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The Lake and Seminole county school districts continue to not adopt a policy governing medical marijuana use in schools, WFTV reports.

PRINCIPAL NEEDED: An Alachua County elementary school whose principal was forced out because of poor student results struggles to get by and wants its leader back, WUFT reports.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL: Manatee County’s School Board chairman stands behind embattled superintendent Cynthia Saunders even as the state Education Practice Commission rejects a settlement offer to Saunders over a graduation rate inflation scandal, SRQ reports.

CLOSING SCHOOLS: The Broward County school district looks into closing and combining under-enrolled schools, as it seeks ways to combat a loss of students to charter schools, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

HOLOCAUST DENIER: The Palm Beach County former high school principal who was removed after controversial comments about the Holocaust remains a district employee, despite the superintendent’s stated plans to terminate him, the Palm Beach Post reports.

TAXES: The Clay County Commission places the school district’s sales tax referendum on the 2020 ballot, Clay Today reports. The School Board had wanted a vote this year, but the commission refused.

TACO TIME: Students at five Lee County high schools will compete in a taco cookoff, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

BRANDING: Leon County School Board members debate the need to hire a marketing firm to help improve the district’s public image, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

WHISTLEBLOWER? An ousted Flager County teacher says his contract was not renewed after he reported what he considered inappropriate acts by a colleague. The district disputes his allegation, Flagler Live reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  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.
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