Florida schools roundup: Budgets, financial literacy, turnarounds and more

florida-roundup-logoSchool budgeting: The Miami-Dade County School Board approves a tentative budget of more than $5 billion. While the tax millage is lower, district officials project the average homeowner will pay an extra $27 in taxes, due to increasing property values. Miami Herald. The Palm Beach County School Board approves a tentative $2.4 billion budget. It calls for a less than 2 percent raise for employees, but Superintendent Robert Avossa says the district will try to find room in the budget for more. Sun-Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. Buried in the $498 million Leon County School District budget is a resolution cutting $1 million for textbook and other classroom materials. But district officials say budgeting is a “complicated and fluid process,” and that changes have already been made since it was tentatively approved Tuesday. Tallahassee Democrat. The Flagler County School District ranks sixth in the state for its required local effort property tax rate, but 64th in the amount it receives from the state in per-pupil spending. The school board is looking for an explanation. The discrepancy was discovered during budget sessions, at which the board approved a tentative $173 million budget. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Financial literacy: All Florida high schools must include financial literacy education this coming school year as part of the requirements for graduation. The Palm Beach County School District got ahead of the law and started them in 2014. Palm Beach Post.

School turnarounds: Five struggling Polk County middle schools could be closed for the 2017-2018 school year unless the district comes up with a turnaround plan that the Florida Board of Education approves. The board rejected the district’s original proposal, and gave it until Aug. 15 to revise it. Lakeland Ledger.

Advanced classes: The Volusia County School District creates a minority achievement specialist position to find ways to increase minority students’ participation in advanced classes. Only 12 percent of the 12,760 students taking advanced courses last year were black. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Fast-tracking denied: The groups that lost their case against the state’s public education system will not get their wish to have the appeal sent directly to the Florida Supreme Court. An appeals court denied the request from Citizens for a Strong Florida and other groups, which alleged the state has failed to provide an adequate public education system. News Service of Florida.

Charter schools: Orange County officials approve a new charter school for Avalon Park, but it will be smaller than originally expected. The school will serve 540 students in K-5, and open in 2017 or 2018. Developer Beat Kahli wanted the school to be K-8 with 1,145 students, but scaled back after complaints about traffic concerns. Orlando Sentinel. Officials at Marion County’s only charter high school, the Francis Marion Military Academy, say student enrollment is up about 80 percent this year. The surge is prompting school officials to look for more space. Ocala Star Banner.

Help for students: The Bay County School Board will add four teachers to a program that helps at-risk middle school students. The ASPIRE program, which stands for Academic Success through Prevention, Intervention, Remediation and Enrichment, is designed for students who scored a Level 1 or Level 2 in reading and math on state assessments. Panama City News Herald.

Pre-K options: Parents in Palm Beach County now have the option of delaying enrollment in the district’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program for a year, if the child turns 4 between Feb. 2 and Sept. 1. Palm Beach Post.

Personnel changes: Polk County School Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd appoints two associate superintendents. Lakeland Ledger.

No charges: A former Deltona Middle School math teacher isn’t charged in the Sept. 18 death of a child she forgot in the back seat of her car. Chanda Larson dropped off two other children on her way to school, but forgot her 4-year-old cousin. The boy was dead when she went to her car after school. Larson went on leave after the incident, and now works for Volusia Virtual, the county’s online education system. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Booster arrested: The former president of the Kathleen High School Athletic Booster Club is arrested and accused of using the club’s debit card for almost $10,000 in personal purchases. Aaron Wilborn, 33, faces charges of fraud and grand theft. Lakeland Ledger.

Opinions on schools: We applaud the Collier County School District administration’s and school board’s long-term budget approach, setting aside money for its next needed high school costing $70 million or more without taking on bond debt. Naples Daily News. If the Palm Beach County public school system hopes to persuade voters to increase the county sales tax, it had better pick up the pace on explaining how it intends to spend the $1.3 billion that would be coming its way. Palm Beach Post. School officials need to find out why so many students are skipping the writing portion of the Florida Standards Assessments. Solving that mystery could help improve the test — or at least get Volusia County off the list of incompletes. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student enrichment: Niceville High School senior Rachel Larson beats more than 80,000 other U.S. students to win the Adobe national design competition, and moves on to the world championship next month in Orlando. Northwest Florida Daily News.