Florida schools roundup: Reading and voucher bills, charter schools and more

IMG_0001.JPGReading bill: State lawmakers say a prolonged focus on reading has not worked, and they want to sharpen the approach. A bill has been filed that would require more intense training for teachers, earlier intervention for struggling students and regular updates for parents. Tampa Bay Times.

Vouchers for disabled: A bill in the Florida Legislature would widen eligibility for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts for special needs students. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the accounts. The bill, a priority of Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, also would provide extra money for school districts that require uniforms.  WFSU. AP.

Charter schools: A charter high school is approved by the Alachua County School Board. Resilient Charter School will serve students who don’t “fit” in public schools. Gainesville Sun. WCJB. A charter high school is being considered for the Sunny Isles Beach-Aventura area of Miami-Dade County. Sunny Isles Beach. A group of Boynton Beach neighborhood associations cite traffic concerns for fighting a proposed charter school. Palm Beach Post.

Sales tax hike: The St. Johns County School Board begins discussion on how to use the money it will get from a voter-approved half-cent hike in the sales tax. New construction is the priority. St. Augustine Record.

Home schooling: Santa Rosa County School Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick is concerned about the number of home-schooling parents who live outside the district. Pensacola News Journal.

Teacher’s memo: A teacher’s memo to the Okaloosa County superintendent about school start times directly criticizes a parent, and it’s become public. Here’s the memo. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Schools accountability: An Orange County parent concerned about state lawmakers’ policies on education writes an open letter to Gov. Rick Scott, asking him to “buy my child a teacher.” Washington Post. Glen Springs Elementary School parents express dissatisfaction with the school’s increased emphasis on testing. Gainesville Sun.

School search: Bonita Springs will expand the search for a new high school site to environmentally sensitive properties. Fort Myers News-Press. Naples Daily News.

Bus crisis report: The school bus crisis at the beginning of the Palm Beach County school year was the result of administrative incompetence and meddling by a school board member, according to a review by a private attorney hired to investigate. Palm Beach PostSun-Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: It’s time to take the authority over school impact fees away from county commissions and city councils and put it in the hands of school boards. Naples Daily News.

Positive starts: Chris Ulmer, a special education teacher at Keystone Academy in Jacksonville, starts every school day with 10 minutes of compliments for students. Themighty.com. UPI.

Bus driver praised: Palm Beach County school bus driver Kerra George is being called a hero after she evacuated 35 children from her bus just as it caught fire. Palm Beach Post.

Educator dies: Rev. Preston Marshall, longtime administrator in Miami-Dade schools and founding professor of Afrocentric Music Education at Florida Memorial University, dies at 79. Miami Herald.

Teacher pay: Martin County teachers have agreed to a pay raise of $600-$1,200 a year. TCPalm.

School staff pay: The union representing non-teaching personnel for the Miami-Dade School District is negotiating for a minimum wage of $10 an hour and a plan to boost it to $15. Florida Bulldog.

Quarterly checks: Pasco County school will continue quarterly assessment testing despite complaints from teachers and parents about the test quality. Gradebook.

School start times: The school year will start earlier in 2016 for Hernando County students. The school board is considering two options: one starting Aug. 10 and another starting Aug. 15. Tampa Bay Times.

Teachers in trouble: A Tallahassee middle school teacher is found guilty of not reporting the suspected abuse of a child. Tallahassee Democrat. A Cape Coral High School language arts teacher and coach is fired after a student says she had a sexual relationship with him, and another worried that he might sexually assault her. Fort Myers News-Press. A Lee County schools drivers education teacher is arrested and accused of driving under the influence. Fort Myers News-Press.

Student enrichment: The Orange County School Board is committing $3 million for a technology program called Launch Site. My 13 News. VEX IQ Robotics holds its first middle school robotics competition at Citrus Grove Middle School. Miami Herald. Manatee High’s Meredith Roberts launches a soccer outreach program to benefit homeless students. Bradenton Herald. Success stories of disadvantaged students reaching for higher education dot a Champions for Learning appreciation breakfast. Naples Daily News. The North Port High School marching band will perform at the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. An Ormond Beach middle school popsicle entrepreneur is featured on the syndicated TV show The Real. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Special education students at Silver Sands turn their curriculum into a business venture. Northwest Florida Daily News.