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Florida education news: DeSantis’ budget, alternative classrooms and betting for education

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Teacher Kate Newell watches seventh graders Aaron Roxberry and Jacob Iovino practice the slope-intercept formula in one of her weekly visits to their Bayonet Point Middle algebra class, which Newell usually teaches remotely. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff]
Teacher Kate Newell watches seventh graders Aaron Roxberry and Jacob Iovino practice the slope-intercept formula in one of her weekly visits to their Bayonet Point Middle algebra class, which Newell usually teaches remotely. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK | Times Staff]
Published Nov. 19, 2019

GOVERNOR’S BUDGET: Gov. Ron DeSantis unveils his $91.4 billion state budget proposal — a record high — including nearly $1 billion for teacher raises and bonuses. Education gets nearly all the extra money in the governor’s spending plan, as he aims to reverse Florida’s teacher shortage. See DeSantis’ plan here.

FILLING CLASSROOMS: Unable to hire certified teachers, and unwilling to turn to less qualified substitutes, some Pasco County schools turn to the district’s virtual school for Classrooms on Demand. Students attend classes on campus with instructional aides, but the teachers are mostly online, visiting just once or twice a week.

EARLY EDUCATION: Hillsborough County kindergartners show improvement in their fundamental skills after the school district increases its emphasis on preschool.

READING RETENTION: Florida third graders get another alternative assessment they can use to earn a good cause exemption to the state’s reading retention law.

NEW PRESIDENT: Damian Fernandez of the Pennsylvania State University system will succeed Donald Eastman as Eckerd College’s new president.

WANNA BET? State Sen. Jeff Brandes proposes legislation that would legalize sports betting, with the resulting revenue going toward education, Florida Politics reports.

VAPING: The Brevard County school district ponders joining the growing lawsuit against electronic cigarette maker Juul, Florida Today reports. The theory is that schools are having to spend their limited resources dealing with the vaping on campus.

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: A third candidate enters the race for a vacant Miami-Dade County School Board seat, Florida Politics reports. • A Manatee County parent prepares to challenge a sitting School Board member, saying the board’s self-proclaimed ‘watchdog’ doesn’t get the job done, the Bradenton Herald reports.

WATER WOES: An Okaloosa County elementary school shuts down for a day because of a broken water line, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

SCHOOL CHOICE: An Orange County six-year-old who was arrested in school weeks ago struggles to find a new school to attend, Fox 35 reports. • The Lee County School Board considers limiting the number of in-district transfers students may use, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

LAND SPECULATION: The Santa Rosa County school district begins acquiring properties for anticipated new schools, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. • The Sarasota County school district is contemplating purchase of two sites for future schools, the Herald-Tribune reports.

MARION COUNTY MESS: Marion County’s safe schools director tells the superintendent’s lawyer to stop interfering with School Board meetings or risk a misdemeanor arrest, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. The superintendent had asked her lawyer to represent her at meetings.

LEGAL COUNSEL: The Brevard County School Board selects three finalists for its board attorney post, Space Coast Daily reports.

STUDENTS WITH GUNS: Two St. Lucie County high school students are arrested on allegations they had a gun on a school bus, the Palm Beach Post reports.

BAD ACTS: A Sarasota County middle school teacher is arrested on accusations of inappropriately touching students, WFLA reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. From left, Don Haddad, Peter Licata and Addison Davis, all finalists for the job of Hillsborough County school superintendent, met Thursday with community members at Rampello K-8 School. The School Board will choose among the three on Tuesday. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times]
    Addison Davis, Don Haddad and Peter Licata outline their plans for the first 90 days.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. But the competition isn’t who many people expected it to be.
  5. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.