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Florida education news: Pre-k tests, school security and fixes for a flooded campus

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Children participate in a sorting exercise during activities in a pre-K  class in Tampa.
Children participate in a sorting exercise during activities in a pre-K class in Tampa.
Published Jan. 21

PRE-K TESTING: In the wake of Florida teachers taking to the streets of Tallahassee, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wanted to show his support. He penned a column that appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, in which he criticized much of the education plan of Gov. Ron DeSantis. That included a claim that the governor wanted to extend standardized testing into preschool years. He didn’t get it quite right, Politifact Florida reports.

SCHOOL SAFETY: A special grand jury found several Florida school districts in violation of state law aimed at improving security measures on campus. The state Senate will start looking into recommendations for tweaking the laws, and for holding the districts more accountable, Florida Politics reports.

GIFTED GRADUATION: The Sarasota County School Board will consider making it tougher to graduate from its rigorous Pine View School for the Gifted, the Herald-Tribune reports. Among the possible changes: Requiring students to take their courses on campus, and not through dual enrollment or online.

UNDER WATER: When it rains, everyone at Manatee County’s Palmetto High School knows it. The district wants to fix the flooding problem, and expects the cost could rise as high as $25 million, the Bradenton Herald reports.

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: State Rep. Bruce Antone, the ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, prepares to seek a seat on the Orange County School Board, Florida Politics reports.

GRADUATION RATES: Lake County’s Umatilla High School sees unexpectedly large gains in its graduation rate, the Daily Commercial reports.

TOP TEACHERS: Holly Hill School fifth grade teacher Josie Stumpf is named Volusia County teacher of the year, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

TECHNICAL EDUCATION: The Marion County School Board gives its approval to build a new 45,000 square foot institute on the campus of Marion Technical College, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. It would replace an aging facility that currently requires costly renovations.

START TIMES: Monroe County schools might start classes later in the day, but not because of anything related to sleep science. The only bridge into Key West is slated for construction, and the expected traffic snarl is prompting district officials to consider a new schedule, WLRN reports.

TODAY: Senate Education, 2:30 p.m. (School security, charter schools, dual enrollment) • House PreK-12 Innovation, 3 p.m. (School board term limits, panic alarms in schools)

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has pushed for changes to Florida's restraint and seclusion laws for nearly a decade.  (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) [Associated Press (2016)]
  2. Health officials recommend washing hands frequently and sanitizing toys, clothes and other items as often as possible to avoid the spread of viruses.
  3. An artist's rendering shows one view of Tyrone Middle School in St. Petersburg after a $28 million renovation. Work is expected to start in February 2021. The Pinellas County School Board approved a contract with Rowe Architects Inc. to work on the project. [Pinellas County Schools]
  4. Graduates enjoy fireworks at Bright House Field.
  5. A bill to merge Florida Polytechnic into the University of Florida keeps advancing, even as most lawmakers say they don't approve.  [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2018]
  6. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D- Orlando  [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  7. More than 100 people turned out Jan. 15, 2019, to give the Pasco County School Board their thoughts on the district's policy and procedures for transgender student rights. [JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  8. Hudson High student Kaitlyn Helzer introduces herself to a curious corn snake during the Nature Coast Envirothon, held Feb. 19 at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Sumter County. Students from Pasco, Hernando, Sumter and Citrus counties tested their knowledge on aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife while vying for a spot at state competition. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
  9. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020. [JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ  |  Times]
  10. Teacher Dequita Parker guides youngsters to lunch from the playground Sept. 20 at the PromiseLand Early Childhood Education Center in Tampa.
  11. 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)
  12. Sen. Audrey Gibson, leader of the Florida Senate Democrats, introduces a bill in January to refocus the $900 million proposed for teacher pay into salaries for all public school employees. It's just one of many ideas still floating around Tallahassee relating to educator raises. [The Florida Channel]