Florida schools roundup: PTA drops out, academies in peril, home visits and more

florida-roundup-logoPTA drops out of suit: The Florida PTA has dropped out of the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s tax credit scholarship program. PTA officials say they still oppose the scholarships, but will direct their focus elsewhere. The Florida Education Association, state NAACP and other groups are continuing an appeal of a court ruling that they do not have standing to sue over the program. Step Up For Students, which sponsors this blog, helps administer the program. Politico Florida.

Nurse shortage: Orange County schools are struggling with a shortage of nurses. The district has just one registered nurse per 3,836 students, which is far below the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of one nurse per school. Bringing the district up to that standard would cost about $3 million a year. Orlando Sentinel.

Academies in peril: Four single-gender academies are losing money and have until Dec. 12 to submit turnaround plans to the Duval County School District. Valor Academy of Leadership, a middle and high school for boys, and Virtue Arts and Science Academy, a middle and high school for girls, have collectively spent about $330,000 more than they’ve collected as of the end of September. Officials from Profectus Learning Systems, the school’s nonprofit operator, say enrollment isn’t what they expected it to be. Florida Times-Union.

Home visits: Carlton Palmore Elementary principal Badonna Dardis sends flyers to parents offering to visit one student’s home a month. She got 226 responses, which is more than half the enrollment at the Lakeland school. Visiting each of the 226 would take Dardis 18 years. Lakeland Ledger.

Contract negotiations: The Sarasota County School District and unions representing school employees agree to a contract that calls for a raise in pay of about 4 percent. Employees will vote on the agreement Dec. 13-14, and the school board is expected to approve it Jan. 3. The proposed raise is the largest since the 2006-2007 school year. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Bradenton Herald. The Citrus County School District and its unions reach a contract agreement that will boost pay 3 to 3.5 percent. The deal goes to the school board today. Citrus County Chronicle.

Deportation worries: Dozens of Hispanic students in Collier County are telling teachers they’re afraid members of their families will be deported under the administration of Donald Trump. Naples Daily News.

Strategic planning: Polk County school administrators will be explaining to district principals the priorities and the timeline for the priorities set by the school board. The priorities are increasing the graduation rate, becoming an “A” district, reducing the dropout rate, improving the public’s perception of the district and recruiting and retaining teachers. Lakeland Ledger.

Corporal punishment: U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. calls for governors and school leaders to end corporal punishment in the 22 states that still permit it. Florida is one of them. Associated Press.

All-women board: For the first time in anyone’s memory, the Leon County School Board members are all women. Tallahassee Democrat.

Board member’s memories: Retiring Sarasota County School Board member Frank Kovach says many things have changed in his 16-year tenure, and not all the changes have been good. Greater partisanship and higher campaign spending are things he won’t miss. But he also cited improved technology, and greater budget accountability and technical training as positive developments. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Back to classroom: Janet Clark, a member of the Pinellas County School Board for 12 years before stepping aside, is returning to the classroom to teach math and working with special needs students at Bay Point Middle School. Gradebook.

Charter schools purchased: A Portland, Ore., company, Charter School Capital, buys five Florida charter schools for $71.74 million. The schools are located in Riverview, Vero Beach, Coral Springs, Davie and Plantation. The Real Deal.

Swastikas on students: Two kindergarten students from Imagine Town Center Elementary School arrive at home with swastikas drawn on their hands and arms. School officials say an older student drew the images. WFTV.

Opinions on schools: There are interesting dynamics to watch as southwest Florida school boards change some members and elect new leaders. Naples Daily News. One clear way to make Port St. Lucie more prosperous is to improve the education system, writes the city’s mayor. Greg Oravec, TCPalm.

Student enrichment: Students at Ruskin’s Lennard High School have an increased interest in engineering since Lockheed-Martin retiree Jim Reve began teaching science classes. Tampa Bay Times. A Felix Varela High School graduate has written a book, Achieve the College Dream: You Don’t Need to be Rich to Attend a Top School. Maria Carla Chicuén, 28, hopes the book will inspire other students who, like her, arrived in the United States as an immigrant. Miami Herald. Palm Beach County students are taking the Mannequin Challenge popularized by Ellen Degeneres, James Corden and others. Palm Beach Post. Caroline Trussell, a teacher at East Milton Elementary School, gets a $2,500 grant from the Thank America’s Teachers program. She will use the money to buy laptops for her students. Pensacola News Journal. More than 120 students from Escambia and Santa Rosa counties learn about harvesting farm food and packaging it to help needy families. Pensacola News Journal. Members of the South Fort Myers High School National Honor Society raise money for wheelchairs for fellow students. Fort Myers News-Press. A South Miami Beach restaurant and a nonprofit collaborate to teach healthy eating habits to students from South Pointe Elementary School. Miami Herald. Rock star Gooding gives a concert at St. Petersburg High School, then gives students from five high schools tips about financial literacy. WUSF.