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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, 2019

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. 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.