Florida schools roundup: Superintendent jobs, suspensions, testing and more

florida-roundup-logoSuperintendent jobs: Duval County School Board chairwoman Ashley Smith Juarez says she asked Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to resign because she thinks his plan to gradually close the achievement gaps between white and minority students is too timid. “To accept these results is to accept the racism that has plagued our district for decades,” Smith Juarez says. “That is unacceptable.” Florida Times-Union. The list of candidates to become Sarasota County school superintendent is narrowed to four: Todd Bowden, Andrew Rynberg, Mark Porter and Brennan Asplen III. All work in Florida. Current Superintendent Lori White retires in February. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WFLA.

Suspension options: Pinellas County school officials are considering options to further reduce out-of-school suspensions for elementary school students. Among the proposals: detentions, student work details, Saturday classes and having parents shadow their children at school. The district’s suspension rate (suspensions as a percentage of total enrollment) was 8.6 percent two years ago and fell to 5.2 percent last year, but officials want to lower it further. Tampa Bay Times.

Testing optional: Almost 900 colleges and universities no longer require applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing. Sunshine State News.

Bright Futures: The state’s Board of Governors is considering extending the Bright Futures scholarship program to cover summer classes. The proposal is getting a push from Gov. Rick Scott, who thinks it will help students graduate from state universities in four years. News Service of Florida. Associated Press.

Contract negotiations: The Polk County School District proposes no pay raises for teachers this year. Union officials say they are disappointed, and will make a counteroffer. Negotiations continue Sept. 30. Lakeland Ledger. Bay County teachers will get raises and bonuses this year under a preliminary agreement between the district and the teachers union. Panama City News-Herald.

No borrowing: The Lake County School Board votes against borrowing money against future school impact fees revenue to accelerate the building of schools. Three of the five members said they did not want to take on up to $50 million in debt to get new schools a few years earlier than projected. Daily CommercialOrlando Sentinel.

School boundaries: Pasco County school officials and a rezoning committee agree on a plan to rezone several neighborhoods for a new high school district next year. Still to be determined is how to ease overcrowding at several other schools. The school board plans to vote on all the zoning changes in January. Tampa Bay Times.

School busing: Hillsborough County is looking for ways to cuts its costs for school transportation. The school district gets $33 million a year from the state for busing, but spends about $73 million. A consultant suggests saving $15 million by ending courtesy busing for students who live within two miles of their schools. Gradebook.

Audit contested: The Children’s Trust is objecting to a proposed audit by the Miami-Dade School District. The trust says the district auditor has no authority to review the activities between the trust and the district. The dispute flared up at a meeting of the school board audit committee. Miami Herald.

Charter denied: The Polk County School Board unanimously votes against a proposed charter school in Lakeland. Board members said they didn’t like the location of the Polk Charter Academy, the proposed K-8 school, and that it wasn’t offering transportation. Lakeland Ledger.

Financial education: St. Johns school officials are holding meetings with teachers to explain the district’s budgetary process in simple “balancing the checkbook” briefings. St. Augustine Record.

Background checks: A Bay County School Board committee clarifies a policy on which volunteers need to undergo background checks. Panama City News Herald.

Fund-raising criticized: Members of the Flagler County School Board are unhappy with the subleasing of fundraising events on school property. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Anthem protest: A middle school football coach and some members of his team took their protest against the national anthem behind bleachers on Tuesday. Griffin Middle School football coach Brett Stanley said he was told by principal Gwendolyn Thomas that the game would be canceled if he protested on the field. Tallahassee Democrat. Palm Beach County school officials tell principals there should be no consequences against student-athletes who choose to kneel during the anthem. And Florida High School Athletic Association officials say there are no rules against athletes kneeling during the anthem. Palm Beach Post.

Scholarship fight: Parents whose children have tax credit scholarships say they expected an appeal from the Florida Education Association, NAACP and other groups, and will fight to maintain the program. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the scholarships for the state. The 74. Daily Commercial.

Teachers honored: Sally Miller, an art teacher at Lipscomb Elementary School, is chosen the best elementary art teacher in the state. The award is given by the Florida Education Association. Pensacola News Journal. Seven Florida teachers win Governor’s Shine Awards at a ceremony Tuesday. Ocala Star Banner.

Volunteer struck: Police say a parent hit a volunteer with his car at a Pasco County elementary school because he “felt threatened” when the 75-year-old man tried to direct him into another lane. Lawrence Dean Franklin, 34, who was in the dropoff lane at Calusa Elementary School, let his 2006 Cadillac CTS roll into volunteer William Denamen. Franklin was arrested. Denamen was not seriously hurt. Tampa Bay Times.

Employee fired: A Buchholz High School girls basketball coach fired from that job for using an ineligible player has now been fired from her school job. Rebecca Williams was removed from the coaching job in January 2015, but refused to resign as a student services specialist. The case was referred to the Florida Department of Education, which decided Williams should not interact with students. The Alachua County School Board then fired Williams. Gainesville Sun.

Opinions on schools: The Duval County School Board would be making a tragic mistake to fire Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. Florida Times-Union. Now that the Florida Education Association has chosen to appeal its legal double-drubbing over the state’s scholarship program for students from low-income families, the question that leaps immediately to mind is this: Why does the teachers’ union hate poor kids? Tom Jackson, Florida Politics. Where’s the logic in banning parents from eating lunch with their children at schools? Chris Ingram, Tampa Bay Times.

Student enrichment: Flamenco artists Paco and Celia Fonta share their craft and its history with 350 Florida State University School students as part of the Florida Folklife Folk Artist Residency Program. Tallahassee Democrat. Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh helps kick off the My Brother’s Keeper initiative in south Florida schools. The goal is to keep students in school by pairing mentors with students who have missed a lot of school. WSVN. Second-graders at 14 Sarasota County schools will get free dental sealants on their molars in 2017, courtesy of the Department of Health and four local foundations. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Students at Matanzas High School are learning about construction by pouring a concrete foundation for a project on campus. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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BY NextSteps staff