Florida schools roundup: Budgets, staff shortages, books and more

florida-roundup-logoSchool budgeting: The Pasco County School Board tentatively approves a $1.2 billion that’s about $30 million less than a year ago. Included in the budget are raises of about 3.5 percent, including benefits. Tampa Bay Times. The Bay County School Board approves a tentative $356 million budget that’s an increase of $29 million from last year. About $25 million of that increase will go toward health-care costs. Panama City News Herald. The Monroe County School Board approves a tentative $170 million budget, which is an increase of about $3.7 million from last year. Keynoter.

Personnel shortages: Many school districts in the Tampa Bay area are still looking for teachers. About 1,200 slots need to be filled in the area’s seven counties. WFTS. Hundreds of school bus drivers are still needed across the state. WTSP. The Lee County School District needs to fill another 100 or so teaching positions. The district has about 5,600 teachers. District officials are optimistic all classrooms will have teachers when school opens Aug. 10. Fort Myers News-Press. An appeal from parents convinces Polk County School District officials to keep Principal Stacy Gideons at Dundee Ridge Middle Academy instead of transferring her to Shelley S. Boone Middle School, a struggling school that is under a state threat of closure if a turnaround plan isn’t approved. Lakeland Ledger. The Bay County School District holds a job fair that it hopes will fill the last 150 open teaching and support jobs. Panama City News Herald.

Initiative dropped: Hillsborough County School Superintendent Jeff Eakins is eliminating a department set up a year ago to help struggling schools. The Elevate schools initiative is being dropped in favor of spreading the responsibility for dealing with struggling students and schools among the eight area superintendents. Tampa Bay Times. WUSF.

Stewart on books: Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says she wants to do away with textbooks, calling them the “bane of our educational system.” Citrus County Chronicle.

Bathroom choice: The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocks an order that allowed a transgender student in Virginia to use the bathroom of his choice in school. New York Times.

Dozier investigation: Florida authorities have launched further investigations into abuse at the long-closed Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys 60 miles west of Tallahassee. Associated Press. A nine-member panel discusses how to memorialize the victims at Dozier and what to do with the unidentified remains. News Service of Florida.

Candidates’ comments: A Pinellas County School Board candidate is being criticized for his Twitter comments about Muslims and blacks. Robert J. Beal called Islam an “evil religion” and told a Morehouse College professor to “get off the plantation” before making grammar corrections to his tweets. Beal defended his comments, saying “if the truth alienates people, then the truth alienates people.” Tampa Bay Times. Another Pinellas school board candidate, Mike Petruccelli, said teachers should be allowed to carry concealed weapons in classrooms. SaintPetersBlog.

School uniforms: Dress codes are approved for two Pasco County schools. The school board gave the okay for school uniforms at Hudson Elementary and Ridgewood High. Gradebook.

Dual enrollment: The Volusia and Flagler county school districts, Daytona State College and the business community collaborate to create a dual-enrollment program in machining and construction. The program will get high school students certified in the technical fields by the time they graduate. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

New school study: The Manatee County Commission will consider a request from the school board to decide if a 100-acre parcel in Parrish is appropriate for a new high school. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Grant offer expires: A grant that would have allowed Haines City to hire academic coaches for high school athletes is dead because the Polk County School Board didn’t consider it in time. The Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida’s Graduates offered the city the $80,000 grant, but a $40,000 match from the school district was required. Lakeland Ledger.

Free supplies: Teachers from 14 low-income schools in Palm Beach County can get free classroom supplies from a new store. The Red Apple Supplies store in West Palm Beach is a one-stop shop set up by the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County. Palm Beach Post.

School elections: Candidates for Pinellas County School Board seats share their views on failing schools and more at a forum in Seminole. Tampa Bay Times. Manatee County School Board candidates discuss academic standards, impact fees, school choice, charter schools and more at a forum in Bradenton. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Notable deaths: Debra Gaudet, a longtime special education teacher in Miami-Dade County, has died at age 59 from ALS. Miami Herald.

Ex-employee arrested: A former IT technician at Palm Pointe Education Research School in Port St. Lucie is arrested and accused of stealing seven laptops from the K-8 school. Robert Joseph Baruch, 30, was arrested after trying to pawn the laptops. TCPalm.

Fraud charges: Four people from two health clinics are charged with defrauding the Miami-Dade County School District of at least $2.7 million. Miami Herald.

Student enrichment: Cafe of Life, a nonprofit that provides meals and runs a food pantry in Bonita Springs, donates backpacks to 125 students at Spring Creek Elementary School. Naples Daily News. More than 800 students from six north Florida counties get free backpacks from the Envision Credit Union. WFSU. North Broward Prep, a private high school in Coconut Creek, requires all students to enroll in a personal branding class. Huffington Post.