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Florida education news: Conforming bills, mental health services and an apology to the man who stood up

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Florida dropped one spot to 45th on the National Education Association's annual list of average teacher salaries. [National Education Association]
Florida dropped one spot to 45th on the National Education Association's annual list of average teacher salaries. [National Education Association]
Published Nov. 20

BUDGET DETAILS: Alongside the big numbers that gained most of the attention, Gov. Ron DeSantis also released his proposed conforming bills that offered more specifics about his education priorities for the coming legislative session. Among them, explanations of which teachers might qualify for raises and bonuses, and a plan to expand Florida’s voucher program.

REORGANIZATION: School boards across Florida select new leadership this week in their state-mandated reorganization meetings. Hillsborough board members picked Melissa Snively to be their chair. Pasco board members chose Colleen Beaudoin for theirs. New chairmen also were selected in Duval County and Lake County.

CONTRACT TALKS: Pasco County’s school-related employees reach a tentative agreement that provides 3.25 percent raises, with more for some categories of the lowest paid workers.

MENTAL HEALTH: Hillsborough County School Board member Karen Perez pushes legislation to provide more mental health services and protections for children.

MAKING PROGRESS? The Hillsborough County school district releases school-level data on how well the campuses are performing academically, along with other climate-related information.

SCHOOL DAYS: Martin County high school students might attend school five extra minutes daily next year as the district moves away from its block schedule, WPTV reports. More from TC Palm.

CHARTER WOES: A troubled Brevard County charter school gets its third termination notice in three years, Florida Today reports. Charter officials accuse the school district of lying about the charter’s status.

ALL APOLOGIES: Manatee County superintendent Cynthia Saunders issues an apology to the pastor whom district security removed from a recent School Board meeting for standing, the Herald-Tribune reports. Pastor Arthur Huggins says he wants whoever instigated his removal to be disciplined.

SARASOTA STRUGGLES: Embattled Sarasota County superintendent Todd Bowden steps down after securing a severance package, the Herald-Tribune reports. The School Board named an acting superintendent as it moves to hire former Seminole County superintendent Bill Vogel as a longer-term interim leader.

MARION MESS: The Marion County School Board moves to strip superintendent Heidi Maier of the authority to spend $35,000 or less without prior approval, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

INVOCATIONS: The Flagler County School Board decides against allowing prayer to open its meetings, Flagler Live reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The Lake County School Board approves a medical marijuana policy allowing authorized caregivers to administer the doses, the Daily Commercial reports.

SUPERINTENDENT’S CONTRACT: Newly appointed Volusia County superintendent Scott Fritz negotiates a $205,000 annual salary, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

EMERGENCY SHELTERS: The Marion County school district considers where to open a second special needs shelter during emergencies, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

SECURITY: A Broward County charter school becomes the first in south Florida to install panic alarms, WTVJ reports.

BAD ACTS: A paraprofessional at an Okaloosa County charter school is arrested on child abuse charges after allegations of mishandling a student, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins, shown at Mort Elementary School in 2016, is retiring effective June 30. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
    Jeff Eakins, the current superintendent, is retiring, effective June 30.
  2. Hillsborough county parents can check the district's website for their child's bus route and their school's bus schedule. Visit, click the link under "Preparing for Back to School," then find the links for "Bus Schedule" and "Bus Availability." For more information, call (813) 982-5500. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times]
    Our running list of the candidates to replace superintendent Jeff Eakins includes top educators with a wide range of experience.
  3. Tricia McManus, an assistant superintendent for the Hillsborough County School District, rolled out the district's new Achievement Zone plan for struggling schools at a community meeting in 2018. The word "zone" was removed early on. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
    Tricia McManus will become a deputy superintendent in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
  4. A vigil at Pine Trails Park in Parkland for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. Some schools have already closed for the holidays, but everyone should be off by the end of the day Dec. 20. [Times (2015)]
    Some schools are closing for the holidays this week; others won’t be done for a few days. Then it’s lights out until early January.
  6. This Feb. 19 photo shows a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File]
    The grand jury said districts are creating “unnecessary chaos” and have become “experts at data manipulation.”
  7. Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis with Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Sheriff Chad Chronister speaking at Hillsborough High School on Thursday, Dec. 12. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    If students feel supported, educators say, schools will be safer and more productive
  8. Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, presents his bill on civics education to the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee on Dec. 11, 2019. The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport,’ sponsor Rep. Ben Diamond reminds colleagues.
  9. Haley Manigold, second from left, and Armwood High School classmates Maria Medina and Madison Harvey take a photo with Sen. Tom Lee, who is sponsoring their legislation, and teacher Tony Pirotta.  They presented their bill in the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 9, 2019. [EMILY L. MAHONEY  |  Times Staff]
    Armwood High senior Haley Manigold discusses her effort to convince lawmakers to adopt testing legislation.
  10. Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
    Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said she thinks Republican leaders want to keep the number under wraps because it points to the controversial program’s “failure.”