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Florida education news: Funding decisions, union lawsuit and bad costume choices

A roundup of stories from around the state.
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. [MEGAN REEVES  |  Times]
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. [MEGAN REEVES | Times]
Published Nov. 8, 2019

‘NOTHING IS OFF THE TABLE’: As Florida lawmakers approach their 2020 session, they’re looking for ways to shift millions of dollars so they can increase teacher pay. The GOP leadership doesn’t want to raise taxes, but they are taking a look at all areas of the budget, House PreK-12 Appropriations chairman Rep. Chris Latvala says in our latest Gradebook podcast.

TOP TEACHERS: Three Pasco County teachers are named finalists for the district’s 2020 Teacher of the Year. • Fifteen Duval County educators are semifinalists for their county’s annual award, the Florida Times-Union reports.

UNION LAWSUIT: The Florida Education Association drops its legal challenge to the recent state law forcing teacher union recertification if membership drops below a certain level, the News Service of Florida reports.

HANDS-ON CIVICS: State Rep. Ben Diamond, a Pinellas County Democrat, refiles legislation to boost students’ civics lessons with participatory projects, Florida Politics reports. Improved civics instruction has been a priority of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

LANGUAGE LEARNERS: The number of English language learners in Florida schools is on the rise. Two experts offer strategies for teachers to better help these students achieve in school, WMFE reports.

REPAIR? OR REPLACE?: The Manatee County School Board must decide what to do with a 26-year-old elementary school that has multiple maintenance and structural problems, the Bradenton Herald reports.

CONTRACT TALKS: The Indian River Education Association rejects a tentative contract offer from 2018-19, TC Palm reports. • Orange County teachers resume contract talks with the district, WKMG reports.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: Three finalists for Volusia County superintendent continue to make the rounds as the School Board nears its selection decision, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

TENSIONS MOUNT: The Marion County School Board and superintendent keep fighting, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The Martin County School Board nears completion of a required medical marijuana policy, TC Palm reports.

TEACHER DISCIPLINE: Five Jacksonville area teachers are disciplined by the state for their inappropriate actions, including DUI and sending nude photos, the Florida Times-Union reports.

SARASOTA SCANDAL: Sarasota County superintendent Todd Bowden says he doesn’t think he should lose his job over a sexual harassment investigation, but even some of his supporters are abandoning him, the Herald-Tribune reports.

BAD COSTUME CHOICE: A Broward County school district administrator is on notice after a photo of her in a raunchy Halloween costume she wore to work surfaces on social media, the Miami Herald reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    A man university police believe was target shooting near campus was not located, the university said.
  2. Former state senator John Legg has not ruled out a run for Pasco County schools superintendent. The district is the nation's largest to elect its chief executive.
    Short answer: Maybe.
  3. But the competition isn’t who many people expected it to be.
  4. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. A point tally ranking the three finalists to be Hillsborough County's next school superintendent shows up on a screen in the School Board meeting room Thursday after a meeting that lasted most of the day. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times]
    The last round of interviews is set for Jan. 21.
  6. Rep. Stan McClain, an Ocala Republican, presents a bill that would allow Florida public colleges and universities to sponsor charter schools, during a January 2020 meeting of the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    Alternative authorizers have been found unconstitutional in the past. But that isn’t stopping the effort.
  7. Thousands rallied and marched from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center to the Florida Historic Capitol to demand more money for public schools Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Thousands of school workers from around the state thronged Florida's Capitol on Monday to press Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature to more than double the nearly $1 billion the governor is proposing for teacher raises and bonuses.  (Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat via AP) [TORI LYNN SCHNEIDER  |  AP]
    The PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee cutting exercise would come in nearly 25 percent below Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposal.
  8. Cocoa Police Department video shows A.J. Plonsky being taken to a mental health facility under the Florida Baker Act on his first day of middle school, August 10, 2018.  [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times]
    Never intended to be used on children, the 1970s law in increasingly applied in schools.
  9. Assisted by the Ray and Associates search firm, the Hillsborough County School Board is hiring a new superintendent. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. Hillsborough school officials on Thursday will narrow the list of contenders to be the district's next superintendent. A day-long meeting is planned as School Board members interview seven semifinalists. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    The process starts at 9 a.m. and continues into the evening as the School Board works to pare the list of hopefuls.