Florida schools roundup: Budget, new bills, Common Core and more

IMG_0001.JPGSchools spending: Some Republican legislators want Gov. Rick Scott to publicly acknowledge that increased spending on education in the next budget, which is being released today, will mean higher property taxes. Tampa Bay Times.

Education legislation: Two Republican legislators propose asking voters to make the education commissioner an elected Cabinet position. Another bill would give the state the power to approve charter schools. Palm Beach Post.

Common Core: The Common Core state standards, which came about when Massachusetts, Florida and a few other states collaborated on a national test that would allow better comparisons of state results, has been abandoned by Massachusetts on the recommendation of the man who helped develop them. New York Times. Sen. Marco Rubio has joined Sen. Ted Cruz in signing a pledge to end Common Core state standards if he’s elected president. Sunshine State News.

No Child Left Behind: A conference committee has agreed to the first changes in 14 years to the No Child Left Behind law. The bill would allow states more latitude in dealing with schools that don’t meet standards. New York Times.

School properties for sale: The Miami-Dade School System is aggressively marketing its downtown properties. It’s been working with David Beckham on a soccer stadium, and now it’s offering its headquarters to developers. School officials believe any deals will benefit the system’s 350,000 students. Miami Herald.

Charters and urban areas: Multiple studies consistently show that charter schools are generally more successful in urban areas serving low-income students than in suburban areas. New York Times.

Priority school: Sligh Middle is the first Hillsborough County school to be tagged a “priority” school. The designation brings extra attention from administrators to high-poverty schools in high-crime neighborhoods. Tampa Bay Times.

Charter investigated: The Florida Department of Children and Families is looking into two incidents at the Mason Classical Academy charter school – an expulsion of a student and an underwear check of 30 boys. Naples Daily News.

Charter school sues: The Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School is asking a court to order Chicago Public Schools to renew its contract or evaluate the renewal under the terms of the current contract. The school system, citing poor academic performance, decided to close Bronzeville and two other charter schools at the end of the school year. The school is a part of Lighthouse Academies of Tampa, which operates charter schools in Florida and seven other states. Cook County Record.

School start times: Leon County is the latest school district to consider later start times. Tallahassee Democrat.

Sales tax hike: The Clay County School Board has agreed to discuss options to raise money, including putting a half-cent sales tax hike before voters. The district is at an impasse with teacher and staff unions over pay raises. Florida Times-Union.

Teacher pay: Talks between the teachers union and Hillsborough schools have broken down over the timing of raises. Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Tribune. In Pinellas County, the teachers union and the district have reached an agreement just a week after a 77 percent no vote to the previous proposal. The vote is Dec. 3. Tampa Bay Times.

Church-school relationship: A Jewish organization, in a letter to the Hillsborough schools superintendent, says the close relationship between the schools and Idlewild Baptist Church is making some district employees uncomfortable. Tampa Bay Times.

Computer science: Central Florida school districts are pushing computer programming classes to students at all levels. Orlando Sentinel.

Teens and voting: Many of the Sickles High School students registering to vote for the first time prefer to choose no party affiliation. Tampa Bay Times.

Shooting at game: Chaos erupts when gunshots ring out with three minutes left in a Miami  high school football game Friday night. No one was hurt, but the game was halted and three young men were arrested. Miami Herald.

Opinions on schools: Palm Beach County has become “ground zero” in the fight over charter school expansion. Palm Beach Post. Voters should be asked to ease the class size restrictions passed in 2002. Tampa Bay Times. Volusia County teachers are angry about being asked to pay more for health insurance, but they’re just now seeing the reality of rising health insurance costs that most working Americans already know. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Managed properly, the relationship between Idlewild Baptist Church and Hillsborough County schools benefits everyone in the community. Tampa Bay Times. Stop arguing about a 1967 school desegregation order in Indian River County and start focusing on the best interests of the students. TCPalm. Coding instead of foreign language for students? Don’t do it, Florida legislators. Sunshine State News.

Gator taken near school: A 7-foot alligator is captured Friday on a soccer field near Park Trails Elementary School in Parkland. Sun-Sentinel.

Student enrichment: Tallahassee’s DeSoto Trail Elementary wins a National Healthy Schools gold award, the first Florida school to do so. Famuan. The Write-a-Play program encourages students to develop plays and possibly see them performed at the Florida Studio Theatre. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Music for Your Heart is a nonprofit foundation that helps students in the Miami area learn musical techniques from professionals. Miami Herald. Students from about 90 high schools participated in the Florida Marching Band Coalition competition last weekend in Tampa and St. Petersburg. Results are here. Despite losing its grant and the staff it provided, the Miami Choral Academy continues to work with students. State Impact Florida. The Sanctuary on 8th Street is an after-school safe haven for learning for Jacksonville students. Florida Times-Union. Sources of Strength is a new project at Astronaut High School that focuses on suicide prevention. Florida Today. More than 50 Lee County high school students take part in the Youth Leading Lee summit with school board members and community leaders. Fort Myers News-Press. Ground is broken for Bradenton Christian’s $3.5 million middle school. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Booker High School students are learning digital and business skills in the class/photo restoration business named Digital Storm. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Students at the Healthy Learning Academy in Jonesville get all the usual classes plus extra emphasis on physical well-being and environmentalism. Gainesville Sun.

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BY NextSteps staff