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Florida education news: School guardian insurance, security grants, and the custodian who became a teacher

A roundup of stories from around the state.
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]
Published Oct. 22

ARMED TEACHERS: The Florida Department of Education quietly adds teachers who carry guns on campus to its liability insurance coverage. Volunteer participants in the school guardian program originally were excluded from the plan.

SECURITY: The Hillsborough County school district receives a $1.2 million federal grant aimed at helping prevent school violence. Several districts across Florida got similar awards, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

A ‘FULFILLING JOB’: Formerly a school custodian, Kevin Knibbs makes the transition to Pasco County classroom teacher and loves it.

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: A Pasco County teacher files paperwork to run for the district’s superintendent post. Pasco is the largest school system in the nation to elect its superintendent.

NEW SPOKESMAN: The Pasco County school district plans to hire Steve Hegarty, former Hillsborough district spokesman, to become its next public information officer.

WHO’S IN CHARGE? The question of whether the Duval County School Board is subject to the county’s charter government rules emerges as a key point in the district’s lawsuit challenging the Jacksonville City Council’s refusal to place a sales tax referendum before voters, the Florida Times-Union reports.

STILL LISTENING: St. Augustine area teachers and other residents give the Florida Department of Education feedback on proposed academic standards revisions, WJAX reports. One recommendation: Less testing.

LAWSUIT THREAT: A Manatee County civic activist threatens to sue the City of Palmetto, accusing the mayor of creating false utility bills to help the school district demonstrate the need to take over a local charter school, the Bradenton Herald reports.

BID RIGGING: A Walton County man is arrested on allegations he tampered with bids for school district insurance, WCTV reports. More from the Northwest Florida Daily News.

MAKING FRIENDS: A Lake County elementary school will install a ‘buddy bench’ on its playground to help children find someone to play with, the Daily Commercial reports.

STORM DAMAGE: Polk County’s Kathleen Middle School will close for at least two days after sustaining major roof damage during a tornado, the Ledger reports.

ADHD THERAPY: Florida researchers find that weighted vests and stability balls do not help students with ADHD focus in class as much as believed, WLRN reports.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: The commander of Naval Air Station Pensacola says the low quality of some Escambia County schools is leading some service members to avoid being transferred to the base, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: An administrative judge finds the Sarasota County school district improperly placed a student into a program for children with severe special needs to avoid having his test results count, the Herald-Tribune reports.

SURVEY SAYS: Flagler County residents want their school district to focus on finding and keeping good teachers, and helping children with their social-emotional needs, Flagler Live reports.

TODAY: Florida Legislative Black Caucus, 12:30 p.m., to announce its 2020 priorities including in education • House Education, 1 p.m. (Teacher professional development) • Florida Standards Review listening session, 5:30 p.m., Hamilton County High School, 5683 US Highway 129 South, Jasper

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news in review


  1. Pasco County School Buses. Times (2018)
    The School Board also approved a student calendar for 2020-21, with Aug. 10 as the first day of classes.
  2. Enterprise Village in Largo is celebrating 30 years this month. The facility, which provides hands-on education about economics, has served generations of children across the Tampa Bay area. In this photo from Nov. 7, fifth-graders from Safety Harbor Elementary School begin their day at the village. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    More than 400,000 kids in the Tampa Bay region have gone through the program, which offers a hands-on look at the free enterprise system.
  3. Florida dropped one spot to 45th on the National Education Association's annual list of average teacher salaries. [National Education Association]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  4. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2018)
Hernando County School District Headquarters, Brooksville
    The district has also promised to look for ways to bring insurance costs down for 2021 and beyond.
  5. First page of school data report Times staff
    Find your school in these reports.
  6. Colleen Beaudoin is selected Pasco County School Board chairwoman for 2020, and Allen Altman is named vice chairman. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Altman chosen as vice chairman.
  7. Melissa Snively and Steve Cona III are the new chair and vice chair of the Hillsborough County School Board. MARLENE   |  Times staff
    Steve Cona III is vice chair.
  8. Hillsborough County School Board member Karen Perez MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff
    School board member Karen Perez sees student stress in her social work practice.
  9. Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at pre-legislative news conference on Tuesday Oct. 29, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    He’s got a new voucher proposal, as well.
  10. Pasco school bus drivers are among those school-related employees who would get a 3.25 percent raise under a tentative contract agreement for 2019-20.
    District, union attention now turns to teacher contracts.