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Florida education news: School security, a new superintendent and another push for term limits

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Students grieve at Pine Trails Park, near the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., one month to the day since 17 students and staff were shot dead there, March 14, 2018. [SAUL MARTINEZ  |  New York Times]
Students grieve at Pine Trails Park, near the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., one month to the day since 17 students and staff were shot dead there, March 14, 2018. [SAUL MARTINEZ | New York Times]
Published Jan. 22

SCHOOL SAFETY, THE LAW: For the third consecutive session, Florida lawmakers have their eyes on trying to make schools safer for students and staff. This year’s primary bill, moving through the Senate, appears less incendiary than past efforts. More from the Tallahassee Democrat.

THEY PICKED ONE: After all the politics, bickering and hand wringing, the Hillsborough County School Board settled on its next superintendent. Clay County’s elected leader, Addison Davis, won the job and, eventually, a unanimous vote to run the nation’s seventh-largest school system. He’s now out of the running for reelection, Clay Today reports.

IS EIGHT ENOUGH? The annual push to establish school board member term limits takes another spin through the Florida Legislature, with the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee advancing a resolution to ask voters to set limits of eight consecutive years. The idea requires a 3/5 vote in the House and Senate, where a 12-year limit is also proposed.

ON BOARD: Parkland parent Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina was slain in the 2018 high school shooting massacre, is Gov. Ron DeSantis’ appointee to the Florida Board of Education.

TOP TEACHERS: Challenger K-8 counselor Carrie Wilson is named Hernando County teacher of the year.

FILLING JOBS: The Hernando County school district begins using new software aimed at streamlining the process for hiring teachers. Officials say it should help the district find more and better applicants. • Tallahassee Community College and Flagler College launch a new partnership to prepare teachers for local school district vacancies, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

SCHOOL CHOICE: Hundreds of choice activists rally in Tallahassee to support initiatives that would expand Gardiner scholarships for students with special needs, Florida Politics reports. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has proposed adding millions in funding to the program, spoke at the event, the News Service of Florida reports. DeSantis, who also has proposed nearly $1 billion for added teacher compensation, did not appear at a recent teacher rally in the capital. Several school choice bills are moving through the Legislature, Redefined reports.

VOUCHERS ON TRIAL: The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a potentially landmark case on vouchers that could reverberate in Florida and beyond, the NY Times reports. At issue is a Montana voucher program that provided tax breaks to donors who supported private school scholarships that went to both religious and non-religious schools, and the Blaine Amendment that prohibited allocating state funds to nonsecular purposes.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: Escambia County residents say they want someone with classroom experience to be their district’s next superintendent, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

NEXT STEP - MONEY: Founders of a long-awaited new charter high school in Destin seek to raise about $2 million so they can purchase property and make the school a reality, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

NIMBY: After lengthy searches, the Santa Rosa County school district has settled on sites for needed new schools. It didn’t take long for nearby residents to begin raising objections, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

BEHAVE: The Manatee County school district’s lawyer is assigned courses on sensitivity training and understanding sexual harassment after facing accusations of making unwelcome comments, the Bradenton Herald reports.

REPRIMANDED: Four officials at Volusia County’s Spruce Creek High are disciplined for failing to prevent a drunken homeless man with a knife from entering campus, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

APOLOGY ACCEPTED: Polk County School Board members offer support to their superintendent after her apology for the way she handled an email that some teachers took as a threat to fire them if they attended a rally in Tallahassee, the Ledger reports.

SCIENCE LESSONS: Seminole County elementary school students will learn about Einstein, Newton and more with the district’s new physics bus, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

GRAD STANDARDS: The Sarasota County School Board narrowly agrees to advertise a hearing to change the diploma requirements for its Pineview School for the Gifted, the Herald-Tribune reports.

TODAY: House Higher Education, 9:30 a.m. • House Higher Education Appropriations, 12:30 p.m.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Patrick Suiters, 10, left, and Gabriel Stanford, 9, both fourth-graders at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin, fill out a survey after tasting falafel tots and nuggets during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste test at Pinellas Technical College. About 120 students tasted and rated 28 new food items that could be added to school breakfast and lunch menus next year.
  2. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
  3. The Pinellas County school system is offering driver education camps to hundreds of students like this one over the summer. The program will be held over two sessions at nine high school campuses across the county.
  4. 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.
  5. Incoming Hillsborough School Superintendent Addison Davis (center), School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) and the other board members pose as Davis signs his contract with the district on Tuesday night. The board unanimously approved the contract beforehand.
  6. 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.
  7. 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)
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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)