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Florida education news: Picking a superintendent, the governor’s speech and school sales taxes

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Assisted by the Ray and Associates search firm, the Hillsborough County School Board is hiring a new superintendent. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
Assisted by the Ray and Associates search firm, the Hillsborough County School Board is hiring a new superintendent. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times staff]
Published Jan. 16

WHO WILL LEAD HILLSBOROUGH SCHOOLS? The politicking and lobbying has continued incessantly ever since the finalist names became public. Even before. The discussions have centered on two candidates to become superintendent of Hillsborough County public schools, to the point you might not even realize there are seven applicants. Today, the School Board conducts its interviews and, if all goes as planned, picks its next chief executive.

WHAT DID HE SAY? You might be forgiven for not knowing all the things Gov. Ron DeSantis had to say about Florida education during his lengthy State of the State address. We’ve pulled out those comments so you can take a closer look. Think conservative agenda, and you’ll be on track.

GETTING THERE: Ten Hernando County students were hospitalized with minor injuries after a pickup truck collided with their school bus. The truck driver was killed in the crash.

SALES TAXES: The Duval County School Board has feuded for months with the Jacksonville City Council over the timing of a sales tax referendum. A judge has now sided with the board, saying it can hire outside legal counsel and sue the city over the matter, the Florida Times-Union reports. City officials had claimed the board couldn’t bring in non-city attorneys for advice. • St. Johns County officials say their local option school sales tax revenue is making a big difference for the fast-growing district, and are already talking about trying to renew it, the St. Augustine Record reports.

PUBLIC COMMENT: A group of Florida students sues the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, contending the panel illegally closed one of its sessions without receiving public input. The students also say the commission held its meeting in an inaccessible location, the Associated Press reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: The city of Panama City explores creation of a municipal charter school organization for schools within its limits, WJHG reports.

MENTAL HEALTH: The Bay County school district implements a mental health education program for students as part of its effort to combat rising Baker Act use and other service referrals, the Panama City News Herald reports.

SPLITTING UP: The Collier County school district prepares to convert two elementary school campuses with multiple buildings into several separate schools, aiming to make managing them easier, the Naples Daily News reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The Marion County School Board dismisses an educator for using medical marijuana that he was prescribed to fight post-traumatic stress disorder from his military service, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

UNPAID BONUSES: Indian River County teachers have yet to receive performance pay bonuses promised to them before winter break, TC Palm reports. New superintendent David Moore pledged to do better moving forward. “What I can say is, ‘I’m sorry’” said Moore, who took office less than a month ago.

TACKLING DISCRIMINATION: The Charlotte County School Board adds anti-semitism to its list of prohibited actions in its bullying and harassment policy, the Charlotte Sun reports.

NEW TEAM: Volusia County’s new superintendent introduces three new top administrators, all coming from outside the district, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

VAPING: With concerns about rising student use of e-cigarettes, Orange County schools will join other community leaders to seek solutions with the community, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

TODAY: House Higher Education, 9 a.m. • House PreK-12 Appropriations, 9 a.m. • Education Estimating Conference: Florida College System Enrollment Forecast Extension, 2:15 p.m.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Jarvis Delon West was arrested on child neglect charges after he didn't report an employee at AMI Kids who slammed a boy to the ground, according to police.
  2. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)
  3. Prekindergarten students at James B. Sanderlin IB World School in St. Petersburg, show the peace sign during an assembly in 2012. New state data show children in prekindergarten are better prepared for kindergarten than those who don't attend.
  4. Leon County fifth-grader Ingrid Hanley asks the Senate Education Committee not to adopt legislation that would get tougher on D-rated schools, during a Feb. 17, 2020, session.
  5. Nadia King, 6, is smiles for a photo. The special-needs student was taken from school Feb. 4 and placed in a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act, and now her mother and a team of attorneys are asking why.
  6. The Voluntary Prekindergarten room is one feature of the new Bardmoor Branch of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. The location also includes a child-care center and Preschool Academy.
  7. FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooter opened fire on the campus. School districts continue to improve their security plans in the aftermath. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)
  8. Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis (wearing a pink tie), center, takes photos with the  Hillsborough County Public Schools board members after being voted unaminous as the new incoming superintendent in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
  9. University of Florida students walk through Turlington Plaza in between classes on Thursday afternoon, February 13, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla.
  10. Chikara Parks, right, along with her children in front of their home in St. Petersburg. In the back is Kamijah Laswon, 14. In front of Kamijah is her sister Tanijah Clark, 12. Their brothers are 7-year-old Tai'jon Carter, left, and Dai'quan Carbart, 9. The four children used to attend Pinellas public schools. Now they are in private schools, using Florida's tax credit scholarship program. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  11. Florida Board of Education member Michael Olenick speaks during a July 17, 2019, board meeting in Polk County. [The Florida Channel]
  12. A new house under construction in Waterset on Big Bend Road in Hillsborough County's Apollo Beach area. Developed by Newland Communities, which also developed Fishhawk Ranch  in Hillsborough, Waterset has had more housing starts in the past year than any other new-home community in the Tampa Bay area. [SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times]