Florida schools roundup: Pam Stewart, coding, bonuses, recess and more

IMG_0001.JPGCommissioner diagnosis: Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has been diagnosed with breast cancer, according to a Department of Education press release. She will continue working as she receives treatment. Tallahassee Democrat. Tampa Tribune. Naples Daily News. Gradebook.

Coding bill: A Senate committee has approved a bill that would require high schools to offer computer coding as an option that fulfills any foreign language requirements. Miami Herald. Florida Politics. WFSU.

Teacher bonuses: A bill making the Florida Best and Brightest teacher bonuses permanent has cleared a House committee. Sun-SentinelGradebook.

Recess bill: A bill filed in the Florida Senate could make a daily 20-minute recess mandatory for K-5 students statewide. Orlando SentinelWTSP.

School uniforms: A year after Florida legislators offered financial incentives for school districts to make uniforms in K-8 mandatory, only eight of the state’s 67 school districts are taking advantage. Orlando Sentinel.

No Child objections: The rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act was passed overwhelmingly by the U.S. House this week, but some parent groups think the bill doesn’t do enough to limit federal intervention in schools. Sunshine State News.

Study questioned: A think tank review is questioning the validity of a recent report on the short-term and long-term outcomes for Florida third-graders who score poorly on standardized tests. The review of the National Bureau of Economic Research report alleges shortcomings in the methodology used in the report. National Education Policy Center.

Contract approved: Pinellas County teachers overwhelmingly approve a new contract with the school district that calls for a 4 percent raise and a maximum of two mandatory meetings a week. Tampa Bay Times.

App for school parents: The Volusia County School District develops an app for parents that will inform them of things that happen at their children’s schools. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Community PTA: A new parent-teacher association, the Southside St. Petersburg Community PTA, hopes to increase community involvement for all schools in that area of the city. A 20-year-old college student, Zamarie Johnson, is chosen as the group’s president. Tampa Bay Times.

Superintendent honored: Seminole County School Superintendent Walt Griffin receives the 2015 STAR Superintendent given to those who have supported district education foundations. Orlando Sentinel.

School board coalition: Dave Miner, a member of the Manatee County School Board, is named chair of the Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition, a group representing 13 school districts and more than 1 million students. Bradenton Herald.

Students arrest: An 11-year-old Southside Estates Elementary student is arrested on a felony battery charge for grabbing a teacher’s wrist. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says the boy was suspended two days for the incident, and that was punishment enough. Florida Times-Union. A 15-year-old girl is arrested for taking a loaded gun into Lee High School. Florida Times-Union.

Ex-teacher sues district: Gaither High School science teacher Phillip Sanchez, who was fired for a “pattern of poor decision-making,” is suing to get his job back. He says his problems are due to an undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Tampa Bay Times.

Teachers in trouble: Two Lee County high school teachers are arrested and reassigned by the district pending an investigation. One faces charges of marijuana possession and destroying evidence, and the other for driving under the influence. Fort Myers News-Press.

Opinions on schools: Experience as a principal is crucial for district-level school administrators. Tampa Bay Times. A bill that would expand services for disabled children deserves a serious look by the Legislature, free from politicking. Palm Beach Post. New Smyrna Beach High students who wanted to start a school-sanctioned surf club get a lesson in bureaucratic risk management. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Owls find a home: Burrowing owls are nesting under a tractor tire on the Miami Springs Senior High baseball field. The owls are an endangered species and have legal protection. Miami Herald.

Student enrichment: For a second straight year, Gulf Breeze High School student Blake Barclay raises $10,000 to help families stay in the Ronald McDonald House while their children receive medical treatment in the Pensacola area. Pensacola News Journal. The HOPE Helps program provides meals to needy Central Florida children during school vacations. Orlando Sentinel. Students at Oneco Elementary School create 100 lap blankets to donate to veterans. Bradenton Herald. A new program for “Dads of Great Students” at Emma E. Booker Elementary encourages fathers and other male role models to be more involved in the school lives of their children. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. One day a month, boys in some Leon County schools dress up, wear ties and pay attention to their manners. Tallahassee Democrat.

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BY NextSteps staff