Florida roundup: ESAs, charter schools, school spending & more

Education savings accounts. Bills filed Friday and Saturday would create a new mechanism for funding school choice options. Tallahassee Democrat.

flroundup2Charter schools. Some 1,200 students apply for 650 slots at a new charter in Viera, reports Florida Today. An overwhelming majority of parents and teachers vote against the proposed conversion of a Key Biscayne school into a charter, reports Miami Herald. The Palm Beach school district is recommending that its board shut down three charters, reports the Palm Beach Post. The Pepin Academies, a charter that serves disabled students in Tampa, wants to open a campus in Pasco, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

School choice. Pasco Superintendent Kurt Browning is merging the district’s choice programs – open enrollment, charters, career academies, etc. – in one department. Gradebook.

Parents. At Jacksonville’s first-ever ed summit, Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti reiterates that he wants to transform how the district views parents. Florida Times Union.

Common Core. Tampa Bay Times overview of what’s coming – and whether it can happen according to schedule. Part one here. Part two here.

Legislative preview. “Reforming school reform.” Tampa Bay Times.

New faces. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Laurene Powell Jobs have joined the board of directors for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. EdFly Blog.

Conspiracy! Now in the Tampa Tribune.

School spending. Polk district audits find several cases of mismanagement in school fundraisers, reports the Lakeland Ledger. The chair of Broward’s facilities task force says the district may have to shut down some underutilized buildings to deal with a funding crunch and deferred maintenance: “Someone’s going to have to make that tough decision. If we can’t maintain schools that we need, we certainly can’t maintain those we don’t need,” reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

School funding. Even with Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed increase, Florida’s per-pupil spending remain below what it was when he took office. St. Augustine Record.

School recognition money. Gov. Rick Scott hands out checks in Central Florida, reports SchoolZone. The money is based on performance and improvement, which means some B and C schools may not get an award because they didn’t improve enough, notes TCPalm.com.

School security. More on Rep. Greg Steube’s bill from the Bradenton Herald.

School rezoning. A proposal in Broward to move Latino families from one school to two others – to help meet class-size mandates –  is bringing charges of discrimination. South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Sequestration. Daytona Beach News Journal. Florida Times Union.

Superintendents. Lee Superintendent Joseph Burke may be the target of a state probe into fund transfers, reports the Fort Myers News Press. A leading contender withdraws from consideration in Hernando, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher evaluations. In Hillsborough, teachers seem to like the new system a wee bit more, reports Gradebook. Teachers in many non-core subjects don’t have tests to be measured with, notes the Orlando Sentinel.

Teacher pay. In a Q&A with the Tampa Bay Times, Senate President Don Gaetz throws cold water on Gov. Rick Scott’s plan for $2,5000 across-the-board raises: “I can’t bring myself to vote to treat the best and worst teacher the same way with public dollars. … But I look forward to working with the governor to try to adapt his support for our teachers to common sense.”

Technology. A BYOT pilot is on its way to Collier schools, reports the Naples Daily News. It’s a brave new world in Bay County schools, too, reports the Panama City News Herald.

Bill Cosby. He offers lessons to high school students in Jacksonville. Florida Times Union.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at rmatus@stepupforstudents.org or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at facebook.com/redefinedonline.