Florida education news: Teacher pay, school start times and smart watch distractions

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Students participate in the first ever, Unity Walk to commemorate the iconic 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 in Clearwater.
Students participate in the first ever, Unity Walk to commemorate the iconic 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 in Clearwater. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Jan. 29, 2020

HOW MUCH FOR TEACHER PAY? The Florida Senate enters the discussion over how much to budget for added compensation in the “year of the teacher.” Its offer: $500 million for salary increases, spread among districts based on a percentage share, and nothing for the bonus program that Gov. Ron DeSantis asked for. The House is set to reveal its plan this morning. More from News Service of Florida.

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE: Inspired by the 1960s, hundreds of Pinellas County high school march across Memorial Causeway Bridge in the name of equality and human rights. “We are the children,” they chanted. “The mighty, mighty children.”

IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED ... : Florida lawmakers again set their sights on limiting restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities who become uncontrollable. They’ve tried to pass similar legislation for more than a decade. ‘I pray to God this year will be the year,’ sponsor Rep. Bobby DuBose says.

MORE DEPUTIES: A day after increasing the law enforcement presence at Pasco County’s Fivay High School because of fights, the Sheriff’s Office will be adding even more deputies after one student makes a false threat of violence against the school and a teacher there is arrested for having a loaded gun in her purse. A student also was arrested for setting fire to a soap dispenser on Jan. 22, WTSP reports.

START TIMES: The Monroe County school district prepares to shift its school bell schedules to accommodate traffic concerns in the string of islands, the Keys Weekly reports.

FUTURE PLANS: The Marion County school district launches a new career planning guide to help high schoolers determine their "E" — employment, enrollment or enlistment, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

NO MORE DONATIONS: Fifth Third Bank announces it will no longer contribute to Florida’s tax credit scholarship program over concerns that some receiving schools discriminate against LGBTQ youth, Florida Politics reports.

STANDARDS: Gov. Ron DeSantis’ declaration of ‘mission accomplished’ in purging the Common Core from Florida schools gets praise and criticism as everyone awaits more details, Scripps Media reports. Just how dead are the controversial standards? Education Week examines that question.

MENTAL HEALTH LESSONS: Brevard County schools prepare to roll out the state’s new mandate to offer five hours of mental health lessons in sixth through twelfth grades. Many teachers say they’re overwhelmed by the latest requirement, Florida Today reports.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING LESSONS: Florida schools also are now required to teach students about human trafficking. Miami-Dade County teachers are getting trained for the task, using a curriculum provided by a state senator’s foundation, WLRN reports.

TAKING THE SAT: The Volusia County school district announces plans to have all high school juniors sit for the college entry exam for free on a class day in April, with the intention of expanding to seniors next year, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. “I can’t think of anything better to invest in for our students,” School Board member Linda Cuthbert said.

TOP PRINCIPALS: Royal Palm Beach High principal Jesus Armas is named Palm Beach County’s principal of the year, the Palm Beach Post reports.

GUNS ON CAMPUS: State lawmakers advance legislation that would allow people to carry weapons at religious institutions even if they have schools on site, the Associated Press reports.

STUDENT VOICES: Bay County high school students get a chance to share their thoughts and concerns with superintendent Bill Husfelt, the Panama City News Herald reports.

TOO DISTRACTING: Santa Rosa County superintendent Tim Wryosdick says smart watches are causing classroom distractions, WEAR reports.

TODAY: House Oversight, 8 a.m. (HJR 157 School board term limits) • House PreK-12 Appropriations, 8:30 a.m. (Chair’s budget proposal) • Senate Education Appropriations, 9 a.m. (SB 62, Dual enrollment, teacher pay, charter schools, etc.; SB 486, Best and Brightest repeal) • House Appropriations, 12:30 p.m. (HB 953, Charter schools)

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup