Florida schools roundup: Bonuses, budget, sales tax, schedules and more

florida-roundup-logoTeacher bonuses: State Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, says the reason the Senate has allocated no money for teacher bonuses is that the program has not yet been fully vetted. Miami Herald.

Budget dissent: Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon, adds his name to the list of legislators who oppose Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to boost education spending largely through local property taxes. Scott’s $507 million increase in K-12 spending is reached mostly by collecting $427.3 million more from Floridians through property taxes. Tampa Bay Times.

Sales tax hike: A majority of Palm Beach County School Board members want to join the county to ask voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax hike. A decision is expected Feb. 17. Palm Beach Post. Sun-Sentinel.

School scheduling: Martin County school officials are considering switching middle schools to a block schedule of three 85-minute periods and one of 45 minutes. The plan would save an estimated $800,000 by eliminating 15 teaching positions, officials say. TCPalm.

Safety and uniforms: If Alachua County wants a $180,000 grant from the state for school security cameras, it will have to conform to state rules and require solid-color collared shirts as part of school uniforms. Gainesville Sun.

Testing the disabled: A woman whose 15-year-old daughter has cerebral palsy tells the Sarasota County School Board that she has concerns over state and local testing requirements for disabled children. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Education savings accounts: Oklahoma is considering whether to join Florida and Arizona as the only states to offer education savings accounts. The accounts give parents the public money that would have been used educate their children, so parents can choose how it’s used. KOTV.

Why she quit: Tracey Suits, an English honors teacher at Land O’Lakes High School, talks about the frustration with public education that caused her to resign after 27 years of teaching. Tampa Bay Times.

School threats: The Palm Beach County School District is asking for help from the FBI and other state and federal authorities to help find out who is making bomb threats against schools. Palm Beach Post. Sun-Sentinel.

Superintendent’s ethics: Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has reported School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. Gimenez alleges that Carvalho violated a standard procurement gag order by supporting a bidder on the planned redevelopment of Liberty Square. Miami Herald.

Health care in schools: An agreement between the Bay County School District and the county Health Department will put 33 health support technicians in schools. All county schools will now be covered. Panama City News Herald.

Learning and behavior: A new instructional method that stresses personalized learning is also yielding better student behavior, say Lake County schools officials. Daily Commercial.

Employee honored: Suellen Smith, the cafeteria manager at Pasco County’s Zephyrhills High School, is named one of five 2016 School Nutrition Heroes in the United States by the School Nutrition Foundation. Tampa Bay Times.

School board sued: The Hillsborough County School Board is being sued by the parents of a boy who was killed by a car during the district-sponsored Student Free Day at the Florida State Fair. Andrew Joseph III was one of many students arrested at the fair, processed at the jail and then released. Joseph was trying to cross I-4 to get back to the fairgrounds for a ride home when he was hit. Tampa Tribune.

Notable deaths: Don Gatewood, a teacher, athletic director and football coach at Plantation High School from the early 1960s to 2012, dies at 77 of cancer. Sun-Sentinel.

Resentencing hearing: Michael Hernandez, who murdered a classmate at Miami’s Southwood Middle in 2004, is back in court for a resentencing hearing. He was given life in prison but was granted a new sentencing hearing when the U.S. Supreme Court banned life terms without the chance for parole for minors convicted of murder. Miami Herald.

Employees in trouble: Brian Anthony Germani, 20, a former substitute teacher in the Pasco County schools, is arrested and accused of having sex with a then 14-year-old girl. Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Tribune. Clint Rickelmann, a former Pine Ridge Middle School teacher accused of soliciting a 15-year-old student, accepts a plea agreement that calls for up to six months in jail. But he won’t be required to register as a sex offender. Naples Daily News. William Cullen, a Rickards High School math teacher, faces charges of misdemeanor battery after being accused of inappropriately touching four female students in his classes. Tallahassee Democrat.

Sex led to firing: A sexual encounter between a girl and several members of the Zephyrhills High School football team at school in September helped Principal Angie Stone decide to replace widely respected football coach Reggie Roberts. Roberts is a police officer who coached after work. Stone said she wanted a coach on school grounds fulltime for student safety. Tampa Tribune.

Settlement release: A woman is asking the Manatee County School Board to release her from the terms of her lawsuit settlement with the board. The woman’s daughter accused a former Manatee High School coach of misconduct, and he later pleaded no contest. The mother and the girl sued the board and settled for $210,000. Bradenton Herald.

Opinions on schools: Breaking up Florida’s county school districts would be a foolish thing to do. Sun-Sentinel. Polk County school officials made a mistake in changing the way grades are calculated without consulting the school board, parents and students. Lakeland Ledger. Tax credit scholarships are an investment in the future of my three daughters. Ayesha Williams, Gainesville Sun. Allowing parents to have input in curriculum materials is an important step that legislators should be urged to take. Janet McDonald, Daytona Beach News-Journal. Innovation is needed to address the problems of our schools. Rocky Hanna, Tallahassee Democrat.

Student enrichment: Kirk Simpson, a 15-year-old Eustis High School sophomore, is one of 60 U.S. students selected to attend the Open Jar Institute in New York City this July. The week-long musical theater program includes one-on-one training with Broadway professionals. Daily Commercial.

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BY NextSteps staff