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No school grades, no recognition funds in Florida’s budget

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.

A week after announcing he’d keep $500 million for teacher pay in the budget, Gov. Ron DeSantis revealed areas where he cut the Legislature’s spending plan. He said he largely left education alone — a claim open to dispute as he also signed a bill dramatically increasing school districts’ pension payments. But there were some items in the document that didn’t get through. Read on for that and more Florida education news.  

School recognition funds — a budget staple since Jeb Bush days — got the axe. Without spring testing, the state would have no grades to base the awards on, anyway. In all, DeSantis cut about $1 billion

Local education projects were dumped, too. They included proposals from Pinellas and Hernando counties. • UF’s popular Algebra Nation got axed, as well, the Gainesville Sun reports. • Money for the Florida Holocaust Museum to develop new curriculum stuck, though. 

School districts got a brand new bill to pay. Sure, the per-student funding went up. But so, too, did the amount districts have to pay for pensions, Florida Politics reports. District superintendents urged a veto of the measure, saying it would diminish the efforts to boost spending in schools. 

What about all that money lawmakers set aside for school guardians? District officials once asked for any that went unspent to go toward other security measures. DeSantis reallocated the $41 million instead, Florida Politics reports. He did keep $8 million in the budget for classroom panic alarms, Florida Politics reports. 

Valedictorian Sierra Morgado's graduation tassel has "2020" on it as she listens during a graduation ceremony for the senior class of Chambers High School at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in Homestead, Fla. Many districts are still refining their in-person graduation plans. [WILFREDO LEE | AP]

The University of South Florida said it wouldn’t hold a summer graduation ceremony in its basketball arena. So now Pasco County’s high schools won’t celebrate there, either

Pasco parents got two weeks to say which back-to-school option they prefer for August. With COVID-19 trends changing daily, the district gave them more time

Many districts appear to be centering on three choices for classes. Indian River County is the latest to head that direction, TC Palm reports. 

Who wants online education? Parents and students nationwide say they hate it, USA Today reports. Still, it appears more likely in the coming year. Enrollment in Duval County’s virtual program has doubled since the onset of COVID-19, the Florida Times-Union reports. 

Some parents have said children won’t wear masks all day. The Leon County school district is exploring the idea of mask-free zones for breaks from facial coverings, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. 

So will returning to campus be safe, or not? The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a new, less onerous guideline, NPR reports. 

Miami-Dade teachers approve a contract that boosts starting teacher pay to $47,500. A 16-year teacher would get $47,800 under the deal, the Miami Herald reports. 

She is outta there. Marion County’s final elected superintendent, Heidi Maier, talks about her struggles and successes in her tenure, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. 

Sarasota County still needs a new superintendent. But state officials have raised serious questions about the investigation that led to former leader Todd Bowden’s departure, the Herald-Tribune reports. Meanwhile, five finalists for the job arrive for interviews this week, the Herald-Tribune reports. 

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

Before you go ... All sorts of studies are being done about how distance learning went this spring. You won’t be surprised to see that Florida had some of the highest numbers of students and teachers without internet access or devices, according to Common Sense. Its percentages were not as close to the top, though.

Tyliyah Tolbert, 7, a second grader, on left, waits as Destiny Marshall, office clerk, works to get a laptop all set up for her at Campbell Park Elementary, 1051 7th Ave S, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 in St. Petersburg. [DIRK SHADD | Times]

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 you thinking about fall schooling? Send an e-mail to jsolochek@tampabay.com. - Jeff

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