Florida schools roundup: Charter school oversight, teacher bonuses and more

florida-roundup-logoCharter schools amendment: A Florida House committee passes a bill that would ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment to give a state board the power to authorize and control charter schools statewide. Miami Herald. Tampa Tribune. Palm Beach Post. The committee also softened a bill that would have allowed computer coding to be used to fulfill foreign language requirements. Politico Florida.

Teacher bonuses: A Florida Senate committee votes to extend the teacher bonus bill, despite some misgivings about old SAT and ACT test scores being used to decide who gets the bonuses. Tampa Bay Times. Miami Herald. Orlando SentinelSun-SentinelPolitico Florida.

Open enrollment: A bill that would allow students to enroll in any public school that isn’t at capacity passes through its first House committee. Tampa Bay Times. Politico Florida. WFSU. News Service of Florida.

Capital needs: Duval County has a “capital crisis” and needs $1 billion to replace or repair old schools and outfit them properly, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti tells the school board. Florida Times-Union.

Bathroom choice: Pine View, a grade 2-12 gifted magnet school, changes its policy and will allow transgender students to use whichever bathroom best represents their gender identities. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Crowded schools: The Santa Rosa County School Board will discuss overcrowding in schools and the need for new schools at today’s meeting. The county’s population is expected to grow by 70,000 in the next 20 years. Pensacola News Journal.

Public comments: A proposal to ban public comment on certain subjects at Clay County School Board meetings is yanked off the board’s agenda. Florida Times-Union.

Charter school protests: Residents of Golden Gate Estates are unhappy over a proposal to put a charter school in their area, saying the development process should include their input. Naples Daily News.

Coalition talk: Members of the Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties school boards meet to share best-practices, ideas for new programs and their concerns. Bradenton Herald.

Guilty verdict: Former Broward Teachers Union President Pat Santeramo is found guilty of grand theft, money laundering, two counts of organized scheme to defraud and three counts of violating campaign contribution laws. He faces up to 30 years in prison. Sun-Sentinel.

After-school meals: Broward County schools expand their federally funded after-school dinner program for children in need. Seventy-two schools in the county now participate in the program. Sun-Sentinel.

Sales-tax hike: Palm Beach county commissioners are urging school board members to join together to push for a one-cent increase in the county’s sales tax. The board won’t decide until it gets Superintendent Robert Avossa’s recommendation. Palm Beach Post.

Special-needs protest: About 15 parents complain the Broward County School Board isn’t doing enough to serve and protect their special-needs children, and protest at Wednesday’s meeting. Their children are coming home with bruises and bite marks, and the parents say the district is not investigating. Sun-Sentinel.

Schools in jeopardy: Taylor County residents express concern at a public meeting about the future of Steinhatchee Elementary School, the only school in the area. No decision will be made until March on whether the school stays open, but Superintendent Paul Dyal says dwindling attendance and higher expenses are straining the school board’s budget. WCTV. Wakeland Elementary School parents meet Manatee County School District officials to discuss the possible closing of the district’s only international baccalaureate elementary school. The school needs about $3.6 million in upkeep. Bradenton Herald.

Coach/AD demoted: Jessie Hester will stay on as football coach at Lake Worth High School after his arrest on a domestic battery charge, but is being replaced as athletic director. Palm Beach Post.

Ex-teacher arrested: A former third-grade teacher at Apopka Elementary is arrested and accused of inappropriately touching a student seven years ago. Orlando Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: Public perception about the quality of Duval County’s schools is wrong. Schools are making gains and compare favorably with other urban districts in the state. Florida Times-Union. When it comes to accountability, the Florida Legislature has one standard for public schools and another for private ones. John Romano, Tampa Bay Times. Providing the education choices made possible by tax-credit scholarships is what is best for our schoolchildren. Tampa Tribune. Florida’s 180,000 public school teachers need to speak out more often. Paula Dockery, Sun-Sentinel. Teachers should not have to leave the classroom to further their careers. Anjanette McGregor, Orlando Sentinel. Pine View School Principal Stephen Covert deserves credit for his decision to allow transgender students to use whatever bathroom they feel comfortable in. Tom Lyons, Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Student enrichment: Sunlake High School sophomore MyKenzie Robertson, who has seen several family members die from smoking-related illnesses, is appointed vice chairwoman of the statewide Youth Advocacy Board of Students Working Against Tobacco. Tampa Bay Times. DJ Khaled, Miami hip-hop personality, is principal for a day at Miami’s Carol City Middle School Thursday and chronicles his activities on Snapchat. Miami Herald. Buchholz High School senior Beverly Ge is among 40 U.S. finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search. Gainesville Sun. A team from Miami’s Dr. Michael M. Krop High School wins best in state and $5,000 in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge. Its app is a sign-language translator. Miami Herald. Three Pahokee High School students featured in the film The Send-Off are headed to the Sundance Film Festival for its premiere. Palm Beach Post. The Manatee YMCA is giving free books to students at Manatee Elementary. Bradenton Herald. A new learning center in Daytona Beach offers another chance for dropouts to get their high school diplomas. Daytona Beach News-Journal.