Florida schools roundup: Recess time, construction, planning and more

florida-roundup-logoExtra recess time: The Miami-Dade County School District adds 15 minutes a week to recess time for preschool, kindergarten and elementary school students. That gives those students an hour of free play time each week. Miami Herald.

Construction planning: Palm Beach County school officials are optimistic that a 1-cent increase in the sale tax will be approved by voters in November, but they’re making plans for construction projects with or without the money the tax will generate. If the tax hike passes, the district will build four new schools and rebuild seven others, and replace roofs and air-conditioning systems. If the tax doesn’t pass, a scaled-back plan will focus on repairs instead of replacements. Sun-Sentinel. Palm Beach Post.

Collaborative time killed: Teachers in Palm Beach County will not be required to attend weekly 90-minute collaborative planning sessions with other teachers, School Superintendent Robert Avossa has decided. Teachers union officials had complained about the time spent on forced collaboration. Palm Beach Post.

Alternative discipline: Highlands County students who commit minor disciplinary infractions will be assigned after-school service work instead of being given in-school suspensions. Among the jobs will be completing assigned work projects and/or helping with school beautification. Highlands Today.

School enrollment: Faced with ever-increasing enrollment, the Pasco County School School District says it will start making plans to rezone more than a dozen schools by February, with the changes taking effect for the 2017-18 school year. Gradebook. School enrollment in Manatee County is up by 522 students, officials say, with the largest increases seen in the Palmetto and Braden River area. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Teacher transfers: More than 110 teachers transferred out of the five failing St. Petersburg elementary schools. But each of the schools is fully staffed, and officials say the first week has been smooth. Gradebook.

Strategic plan: Brevard County School Superintendent Desmond Blackburn presents his strategic plan in a speech to the community. Its key points are leading and learning, employee excellence, facilities and capital allocation, governance, finance and community relations. Florida Today.

Retirement and subbing: Retiring teachers who want to substitute are barred from doing so for six months, according to state law. At the urging of some teachers who are about to retire, Pasco County School Board members say they will work on getting the law changed. Gradebook.

Field trips: The Pasco County School District is updating its policies for organizing and executing field trips. Tampa Bay Times.

Back to school: Teachers share students’ excitement and nervousness over the start of school today in Bay County. Panama City News Herald.

Bilingual school: Lighthouse Private Christian Academy in Gulf Breeze opens a bilingual school for students in grades 3-7. About 40 students are enrolled. Pensacola News Journal.

Charter closes: The Lakeside Academy charter school in Belle Glade has closed after 18 years. The school received an A grade from the state in 2014, but F grades in each of the past two years. Palm Beach Post.

School elections: A Collier County School Board candidates denies he claimed during a series of interview with a newspaper that he graduated from the University of Miami. In other public discussions, Lee Dixon has said he attended the university between 1988 and 1992. Records show Dixon attended the university between 1991 and 1992, and has earned no degree. Naples Daily News.

Missing children: An 11-year-old Bradenton boy disappeared from his school bus stop Tuesday morning. Police believe the boy is a runaway. WTSP. A Pasco County mother says officials at Veterans Elementary School lost track of her 6-year-old first-grader at dismissal time Monday. The girl was found wandering a block away from the school. The school is investigating. WFLA.

Notable deaths: A 43-year-old fifth grade teacher at Biltmore Elementary School in Jacksonville collapsed and died in front of her students Tuesday. The cause of death is unknown. Mildretta Chapple had been at the school four years, and in the Duval district for 10. Florida Times-Union.

School threats: The FBI says there’s no evidence that threats made on Twitter against Orange County students and schools are credible. Authorities are looking for 23-year-old Jesus Henry Kong, who doesn’t live in the state. Orlando Sentinel. WESH.

Trucker sentenced: A log truck driver who rammed into a Bradford County school bus in 2014, injuring several students and the driver, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Shannon Sherrell Ford had been seen driving erratically just before the crash. Florida Times-Union.

Opinions on schools: The enemy of teachers is not private schools or the students taking advantage of vouchers. The enemy is Tallahassee leaders who have made public schools such dark and disturbing places that vouchers are now a logical alternative. John Romano, Tampa Bay Times. As you settle into the new school year routine, we hope you will take some time to share your appreciation and support for each school’s principal. Dominic Calabro, Florida Politics. Florida Lottery dollars need to be distributed fairly so schools have adequate funding. John Albers, Highlands Today. The Bay County School District is trending up when it comes to enrollment in physics classes. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.

Student enrichment: Students from the drama department at East Ridge High School are collaborating with the Heritage Hills Players for a production of Steel Magnolias. Orlando Sentinel. Students at St, Mary’s Catholic School serve an appreciation dinner to members of the Rockledge Police Department. Florida Today.