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Florida education news: Common Core, facial recognition and a push for funding fairness

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Hillsborough County Chief of Schools Harrison Peters, speaking with students here at Potter Elementary School, is a the choice to become superintendent of Providence, R.I., schools. [Times file (2016)]
Hillsborough County Chief of Schools Harrison Peters, speaking with students here at Potter Elementary School, is a the choice to become superintendent of Providence, R.I., schools. [Times file (2016)]
Published Jan. 27

THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG: ​​​​​​​Harrison Peters certainly wasn’t taking any chances. At the same time the Hillsborough County school district’s chief of schools sought the top job in his own district, he continued to send out feelers for other possibilities. Less than a week after falling short in Hillsborough, he’s won the superintendency in Rhode Island’s largest school district. More from the Providence Journal.

ICYMI: Gov. Ron DeSantis has introduced an outline of his recommendations to overhaul Florida’s academic standards. Look for more civics and classical literature, and less “crazy math.”

SECURITY: After the 2018 Parkland school shooting, many officials looked to facial recognition software as a tool to help prevent future incidents. Several experts say that technology won’t stop shootings, CNET reports. A handful of districts, including Broward County, have adopted artificial intelligence surveillance equipment that includes facial recognition, Vox reports.

RECOGNITION FUNDS: A Marion County charter school received $35,000 for its improved state grade five weeks after it closed down. The money appears headed to teachers who taught at the former school, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

FUNDING: Florida’s education funding formula long has drawn complaints from some smaller school districts that say they lose money through a process called “district cost differential.” State lawmakers are exploring whether to change the model, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

HELPING HANDS: Manatee Elementary School in Bradenton seeks mentors for students as it grows its community school initiative, the Herald-Tribune reports.

FIGHTING HUNGER: A growing number of Leon County schools open food pantries for needy students, WCTV reports.

GET LOST: State Rep. Melony Bell says Polk County has a School Board member who needs to be removed. Many observers think she’s talking about outspoken Billy Townsend, the Ledger reports. Bell supports a bill to establish school board term limits, which has begun moving through the state House, as the Daily Commercial reports.

READING MATTERS: Lake County’s Eustis Elementary takes a book-filled bus into its community to provide free reading material to students closer to their homes, the Daily Commercial reports.

SCHOOL MOVES: Broward County school district officials consider combining schools to cope with shrinking enrollment in some parts of the county, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

UNION LABEL: The Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association executive director says a bill to change union membership rules would cripple labor organization, Florida Politics reports.

INVESTMENT WOES: The Brevard County school district inadvertently invested millions into banks with shady dealings, Florida Today reports. Officials are searching for ways to fix the situation.

BONUSES: The Lake County school district agrees to give $1,000 bonuses to prekindergarten teachers who would have qualified for state Best and Brightest awards if they were eligible, the Daily Commercial reports.

GOING GREEN: Some Palm Beach County high school students want their schools to use more earth-friendly cafeteria trays, the Palm Beach Post reports. The cost might prove an obstacle.

TOP TEACHERS: Vanguard High chemistry teacher Euan Hunter is named Marion County’s teacher of the year, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. • Winter Haven High School math teacher Vincent Miller is named Polk County teacher of the year, the Ledger reports.

IMPEACHMENT LESSONS: A Broward County high school government teacher aims to keep his politics out as he brings the current impeachment trial into his lessons, WLRN reports.

GETTING THERE: A Pensacola resident is leading the charge to convince lawmakers to make walking routes to school safer, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

FIRED: A Sarasota County school district police officer who accused officials at Brookside Middle School of covering up sexual misconduct is let go, the Herald-Tribune reports.

TODAY: Senate Education, 1:30 p.m. • Senate Ethics and Elections, 4 p.m. (SJR 1216 School Board term limits) • Senate Community Affairs, 4 p.m. (SB 1236, Educational Property Tax exemption)


  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]