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State leaders declare ‘promises kept’ on teacher raises

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

Even before the 2020 legislative session began, Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed putting nearly $1 billion into public school teacher pay and bonuses. He said it would be the ‘Year of the Teacher.’ Lawmakers met him halfway. Then the economic slide caused by COVID-19 led many observers to wonder what would happen to the pay plan. Read on for that and more Florida education news.  

DeSantis faced some heavy pressure to delay the plan, which would increase the base salary for teachers. Many lawmakers expected he would protect the proposal, and cut the budget elsewhere. On Wednesday, he announced his decision.

Pinellas County school officials said they’d have no problem meeting the governor’s target — especially if voters renew a local property tax. They’ll get that opportunity in November. The big worry: The economic downturn might tamp down support. 

Miami-Dade County district officials counted on new state money while negotiating their new contract. Teacher leaders say it will help newer teachers much more than veterans, the Miami Herald reports. 

Plans to hold in-person graduations in July aren’t a sure thing for Hillsborough County high schools. ‘The virus will decide,’ board member Lynn Gray said. • A Miami-Dade County high school held its ceremony Saturday. That evening, its principal was diagnosed positive for COVID-19, the Miami Herald reports.  

High school football might not happen, either. Admiral Farragut Academy is the first in the Tampa Bay area to announce it won’t field a team for 2020. 

And as for that prom a Hillsborough County parent was trying to organize ... A second venue has canceled, citing virus concerns. 

Krystal Davis, 48, arranges voter privacy booths as she and others set up an early voting site in Tampa ahead of the 2020 presidential preference primary. [ALLISON ROSS | Tampa Bay Times]

Elections offices are struggling to find voting locations during COVID-19. The Volusia County school district offers up its schools for the Aug. 18 primary. That means delaying students’ return to classes, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. 

College reopening plans are approved. University of South Florida students remain weeks away from knowing how many of their classes will be offered on campus. • New College will require masks in all indoor spaces, except bedrooms, the Bradenton Herald reports. 

Everything is fluid. Citrus County schools superintendent Sam Himmel reminds her board that the reopening plans they’re crafting could change in a moment’s notice, the Citrus County Chronicle reports. • Alachua County schools plan to open on Aug. 10, for now, the Gainesville Sun reports. • A majority on the Palm Beach County School Board says it’s willing to put off the first day of school if virus cases continue to spike, the Palm Beach Post reports. 

Lots of parents want their children to wear masks. The Bay County school district is amending its dress code, which currently doesn’t allow for them, the Panama City News Herald reports. 

Some students still need to catch up. The Marion County school district will begin in-person classes in July for children who fell behind during distance learning, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. 

The Miami-Dade County School Board moved to improve how students learn about racism. It received a lot of racist comments about the plan, WLRN reports. 

From the ethics commission. Complaints against Polk County School Board member Billy Townsend and state Rep. Melony Bell have been found legally insufficient, the Ledger reports. 

Miss a story? You can always take another look at yesterday’s roundup

Before you go ... I don’t know about you, but I found the history of the black women at NASA, as told in Hidden Figures, both enlightening and fascinating. I watch the movie frequently just for inspiration. So the alert that NASA on Wednesday named its Washington, D.C., headquarters after Mary W. Jackson — the agency’s first African-American female engineer —  came as welcome news. Read more about this pioneer here

Mary Jackson was NASA's first female African-American engineer. [NASA]

Join our daily Facebook conversation to share your views. And be sure to share this roundup with your friends and colleagues. Know someone who might want to sign up for the Gradebook newsletter? Share this link. What are your plans for summer and fall schooling? Send an e-mail to jsolochek@tampabay.com. - Jeff

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