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Florida education news: School closing, preschool mold woes and Ron DeSantis’ latest on education

A roundup of stories from around the state.

GOING, GOING, GONE: Pasco County’s Hudson Elementary School has struggled for more than a decade to yield positive student outcomes. It’s had several principals, multiple teacher turnovers, various instructional approaches. Little moved the needle for very long. Facing another state-mandated change, the School Board decided to close the school altogether and merge it with another, where it will offer an entirely different approach including added social and community services. The change begins in the fall. • The board wanted to avoid facing a situation like this one from Marion County, where school district officials learned that if Evergreen Elementary does not attain a C grade this year, the state will require it to drop its outside operator and contract with a proven charter school company instead, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

STILL CLOSED: Inspectors discovered mold problems in 11 Pinellas County Head Start centers over winter break. Six of them remain shuttered while eradication efforts continue. Parents have needed to find alternative childcare in the meantime.

STATE OF THE STATE: In a 30 minute speech to open the legislative session, Gov. Ron DeSantis offers plenty of thoughts about education in Florida and his proposals to improve it. More from Florida Politics.

SCHOOL LEADERSHIP: Three Hillsborough County schools get new principals.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: The Hillsborough County School Board continues to receive correspondence lobbying on behalf of (or against) certain superintendent applicants.

SCHOOL CHOICE: Pasco County families will have 10 days to apply for elementary school choice offerings for 2020-21.

TIME TO TAX: Okaloosa County School Board members agree to ask voters to approve a local sales tax rate increase to support school construction and capital needs, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

STUDENT ASSIGNMENT: The Lee County School Board approves $280,000 to hire an outside company that will redraw elementary school attendance zones so more students can attend closer to home, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

READING LESSONS: The Manatee County school district announces its ‘Big Plan’ to improve reading proficiency at 10 elementary schools serving mostly low-income communities, the Bradenton Herald reports. Two schools will pilot the initiative, and if it works, it will expand to eight others.

NEW DIGS: The Washington County School Board unveils its new, larger meeting chambers, the Washington County News reports.

‘TOP OF THE WORLD’: A Gainesville High School senior overcomes dyslexia to earn a ‘Top of the World’ score on the Cambridge AICE English language exam, WCJB reports.

SUPER SUB: Duval County schools superintendent Diana Greene took over a classroom as teachers headed to Tallahassee to rally for better pay and working conditions, the Florida Times-Union reports. • Why did teachers feel compelled to take to the streets? Several offered their rationale to Florida Today.

WANT TO BE A SUBSTITUTE TEACHER? It’s now easier to do so in Manatee County, where the School Board lowered its criteria as schools struggle to fill their classrooms, the Herald-Tribune reports.

DESEGREGATION: The Indian River County school district develops a plan that could end its 53-year-old federal desegregation order within three years, TC Palm reports. Key among the requirements: more African-American teachers and staff, and a reduction in the student achievement gap.

DEVELOPMENT PLANS: The Miami-Dade County school district looks into downsizing its downtown headquarters to help finance new schools and affordable housing for teachers and the elderly, the Miami Herald reports. Officials have been debating such ideas since 2017.

AUDIT REPORT: An annual audit turns up billing errors that cost Lee County’s Fort Myers Technical Center $76,000, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

FIGHTING BACK: The Bay County school district finds success in court defending itself against ‘baseless’ lawsuits, the Panama City News Herald reports. It has netted about $267,000 in judgments to cover attorney fees.

GUNS ON CAMPUS: A Putnam County 12-year-old faces two felony charges after bringing a loaded gun to school, WJXT reports.

ON LEAVE: The Manatee County School Board places its attorney on paid administrative leave amid allegations he made inappropriate sexual comments, the Herald-Tribune reports.

TODAY: House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations, 9:30 a.m. (HB 37, school bus safety) • House Health Quality, 9:30 a.m. (HB 485, athletic trainers) • House Higher Education Appropriations, 3:30 p.m. • House PreK-12 Innovation, 3:30 p.m. (HB 953, charter schools) • Revenue Estimating Conference: General Revenue Forecast; Outlooks for General Revenue and Educational Enhancement and Tobacco Settlement Trust Funds, 9 a.m.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup