Florida schools roundup: Testing, magnet schools, big budgets & more

School choice. Add Voices for Choices to the list of school choice groups in Florida. redefinED. Duval County School District leaders propose a “Public Education Strong” marketing campaign to lure students back from charter and private schools. Florida Times Union. Sunshine State News’s Nancy Smith says women are waiting to hear what Charlie Crist’s position is on vouchers.

florida-roundup-logoMagnet schools. The Broward County School District looks for ways to improve five F-rated magnet schools. South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Charter schools. The Palm Beach County Commission approves a $20 million financing deal for a new charter school. South Florida Sun Sentinel. The St. Johns County School Board considers a couple of applications. St. Augustine Record.

Teachers unions. More about new NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, who visited South Florida last week. StateImpact Florida. Charlie Crist gets big money from the NEA. The Buzz.’

Technology. Low-income kids in the Pinellas County School District who were given laptops to take home last year outscore their peers without them. Gradebook.

Lawsuits. Members of the Bay County School Board, concerned about unfunded mandates, say they are considering joining the education funding/adequacy suit filed in 2009 by Fund Education Now and others. WJHG.

School spending. A school board member in the Manatee County School District raises concerns about the district’s request for proposal regarding the hiring of security guards for elementary schools. Bradenton Herald. (Follow-up story here.) The Pinellas County School Board approves a $1.3 billion budget. Tampa Bay Times. The Hillsborough County School Board approves a $2.9 billion budget. Tampa Bay Times. The Marion County School Board approves a $475 million budget. Ocala Star Banner. The Leon County School Board approves a $530 million budget. Tallahassee Democrat. Guest columnists ask voters in Palm Beach County to reauthorize a property tax hike for education. Palm Beach Post.

Standardized testing. Complaints about a “toxic culture of testing” surface at a Brevard County School Board meeting. Florida Today. The Lee County School Board considers searching for ways to mitigate what it says is too much high-stakes testing. Fort Myers News Press. An Alachua County kindergarten teacher refuses to give her students standardized tests that are used for diagnostic purposes, putting her job at risk. Gainesville Sun.