Florida schools roundup: No Child, class size, grades, recess, uniforms and more

IMG_0001.JPGNo Child bill update: Today, the U.S. Senate is poised to approve the revised No Child Left Behind Act. The changes would allow states greater control over public schools, particularly in how they assess student and teacher performance. The White House has said President Obama will sign the bill. Associated Press.

Class size violations: Very few Florida school districts are in violation of the class-size regulations in the October count, according to the Department of Education. Many were helped by the loophole that allows districts to define what a school of choice is, since those schools can use schoolwide class size averages rather than classroom counts. Gradebook.

Bill on grades: State Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, files a bill that would suspend school grades for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years and  require the State Board of Education to “adopt and implement a school grading system that is demonstrably equitable, reliable, timely, rigorous, affordable, and rationally funded.” News Service of Florida, via Tampa Tribune.

Recess renewed: The Polk County School Board approves a policy requiring recess for elementary students. Lakeland Ledger.

Duval school changes: After getting input from working groups, parents and school staff, Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti is modifying some of his proposals to rewrite school boundaries and change school programs. Florida Times-Union.

Turnaround specialist: The Pinellas County School Board downplays the extent of the problems at five troubled St. Petersburg schools, but hires a turnaround specialist to help them. Tampa Bay Times.

Student uniforms: The Volusia County School Board has approved uniforms for all grade levels. Specific details will be determined in January. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

New schools: With proceeds from a half-cent hike in the sales tax, the St. Johns County School Board approves the construction of three schools to be opened for the 2017-2018 school year. St. Augustine Record.

School calendar: Broward County students will start the 2016-17 school year Aug. 22 and finish June 8. The school board decided against a proposal to start the year a week earlier. Sun-Sentinel.

Charter schools: The Campus Charter School in Port St. John will remain open but under close supervision, the Brevard County School Board decides. An audit revealed the school was out of compliance with the state’s rules and regulations for charter schools. Florida Today. The Manatee County School Board rejects one charter school application, and four others were withdrawn. Bradenton Herald.

Lee County budget: A review of Gov. Rick Scott’s education budget proposal shows Lee County would get a financial boost of about 1.5 percent, according to the district’s assistant superintendent of business and finance. Fort Myers News-Press.

School superintendents: Manatee County School Superintendent Diana Greene receives high marks from the school board after six months on the job. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. A Leon County middle school assistant principal takes early retirement less than a month after criticizing Superintendent Jackie Pons’ leadership. Tallahassee Democrat.

Teacher policy grades: Florida earns the highest mark in the nation, a B-plus, on teacher policies, according to the National Council on Teacher Policy. The grade encompasses teacher preparation, licensing and evaluation, compensation, professional development and dismissal. THE Journal.

Teacher pay: The Manatee County School Board is expected to approve a 3.37 percent raise for teachers at a meeting next week. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Testing breakdown: It’s been about eight months since Florida schools experienced a breakdown of its school testing system due to an unauthorized technical change, and no fines have yet been levied against the vendor, AIR. Gradebook.

School properties: The Santa Rosa County School Board approves a survey to determine if the 90-year-old Berryhill Admninistrative Complex in Milton should be renovated or torn down. Pensacola News Journal.

Opinions on schools: The revised No Child Left Behind Act isn’t perfect, but it is an improvement over the original bill and holds the promise of delivering better-performing schools. New York Times. There is a reasonable compromise between rigid, punitive rules and no accountability in schools. The revised No Child Left Behind Act is more reasonable than the original, but it threatens to leave many poor and minority students in schools that middle-class parents would never accept for their children. Los Angeles Times.

Teachers in trouble: A 26-year-old teacher at St. Augustine High School teacher has been suspended without pay for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old student. Virginia Hinckley was arrested and has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Florida Times-Union.

Student enrichment: A literacy project is so successful that it’s spreading to a fifth elementary school in Indian River County. TCPalm. Workman Middle School students get lessons in architecture, construction and cooking by building gingerbread houses. Pensacola News Journal. Ellen Li, a senior at Buchholtz High School in Gainesville, places 10th out of 293 in the Math Prize for Girls competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gainesville Sun. School officials are happy with the Okaloosa County School District’s technology program, which makes iPads available to students in high school and some middle schools. Northwest Florida Daily News.