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Florida education news: Teacher pay, school crowding and a special ed investigation

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Third grade teacher Genevieve Beaumier, center, helps Venicia Joanis, 9, left, and Tobias Watkins, 8, with their reading skills at Forest Hill Elementary School in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
Third grade teacher Genevieve Beaumier, center, helps Venicia Joanis, 9, left, and Tobias Watkins, 8, with their reading skills at Forest Hill Elementary School in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Dec. 3

TEACHER PAY: Florida schools districts stand to receive millions of dollars in added funding to support Gov. Ron DeSantis’ teacher pay proposals. The state has broken down the amount by county, the News Service of Florida reports. Part of the money could come from deleting the current Best and Brightest bonus system. The state Senate Education Committee is slated to hold the first hearing on ending the model next week, the News Service of Florida reports. Of course, the governor does not intend to do away with bonuses completely, as they a different form of the same idea remains in his $900 million plan, WFSU reports.

OVERFLOW: Pasco County’s Odessa Elementary school grows so large that the school district needs to secure added parking and classroom space to hold all the students.

LEADERSHIP: Pasco’s Mittye P. Locke Elementary gets a new principal.

UNDER SCRUTINY: The Sarasota County school district’s special education program comes under state review amid allegations students were improperly placed into programs to avoid using their test scores in accountability ratings, the Herald-Tribune reports.

FUTURE TEACHERS: The Lee County school district gets added funds to support scholarships for students who plan to attend local colleges and return to teaching in the district, WINK reports. The program helps the district combat its teacher shortage, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

MISSED MESSAGE: Turnout is low for four Palm Beach County school district parent town halls on the dangers of vaping, sexting and bullying, WPEC reports.

SECURITY: Students at Duval County’s Terry Parker High School will face added security measures after a schoolmate is arrested on allegations of bringing a loaded gun to campus, the Florida Times-Union reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A new charter middle-high school is poised for approval by the Lake County School Board, the Daily Commercial reports.

OVERDOSE RESPONSE: A Florida lawmaker proposes providing schools with a drug to reverse opioid overdoses among students, whom he says are the most overlooked victims of the national opioid crisis, WLRN reports.

BAD ACTS: A Brevard County high school teacher is arrested on accusations of having sexual contact with a student in school, Florida Today reports. • A Sarasota County student is arrested on allegations of stabbing another student on a school bus, the Herald-Tribune reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis raises his hands after being asked about his relationship with two Ukrainian businessmen during an announcement at a Palm Harbor Walmart Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. DeSantis refused to answer questions about the two men. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    During a news conference in Naples, DeSantis launched into a long-winded discussion of American history, which he said young people need to know better.
  2. Jarrod Haneline, shown when he was named principal of Jackson Elementary School in 2018, has left that position. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    Jarrod Haneline left the position in recent weeks.
  3. 5 hours ago• Gradebook
    Alan Black, outgoing principal of Burney Elementary School, in an image on the school website. [HSPS  |  Handout]
    School leaders will trade jobs in the new year.
  4. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    The sides have not set a new date for negotiations.
  5. Tony Pirotta, right, meets with his Armwood High Ought to be a Law student club and state Rep. Susan Valdes to talk strategy for the group's latest legislative proposal. They presented their bill to state senators on Dec. 9. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. Florida's Baker Act was written in 1971 by Maxine Baker, a 65-year-old grandmother and a freshman Florida legislator from Miami-Dade County, seen here in a 1965 photo. [Associated Press]
    The law was written in 1971 by Maxine Baker, a legislator from Miami-Dade County who pushed for the rights of people with mental illness.
  7. Sarah Henderson with her son, Braden, who was committed under the Baker Act after a joking remark at school. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A cop car comes. A child is handcuffed and taken to a mental health facility. The scene is all too frequent at public schools across the state.
  8. Three Armwood High School students testify before the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 9, 2019. Left to right are seniors Maria Medina, Haley Manigold and Madison Harvey. [Emily L. Mahoney | Times]
    “The people who are cynics about politics are also the ones who complain the most,” said one student, who said democracy requires participation.
  9. Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island.
    The idea is part of Florida leaders’ pitch to address low teacher pay, though there is still disagreement over how to do so.
  10. The government program provides free lunches in schools that qualify, regardless of a student's family income. The idea is to erase a stigma.
    One manager lost her job, accused of taking advantage of the program she oversaw.