Florida schools roundup: Graduation rate, segregation, class time and more

florida-roundup-logoGraduation rate up: The state’s high school graduation rate for 2016 was a record 80.7 percent, according to the Department of Education. That’s 2.8 percentage points over the 2015 rate. Fifty-five of the state’s 67 districts showed improvement. Florida Department of Education. Orlando Sentinel. Miami Herald. Palm Beach PostGradebook. Florida Times-Union. Florida Today. Space Coast DailyTCPalm. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Orlando Sentinel. WJXT. WPLG. WTLV.

Socioeconomic segregation: The Bay County School District is becoming segregated along socioeconomic lines, with richer, high-performing students increasingly moving to charter schools. That’s the summary of an analysis of the district’s charter school population. “I don’t think anyone got a surprise here,” school board chair Ginger Littleton said. Panama City News Herald.

Classroom learning: How much time students spend learning in classrooms will be the focus of the new chairmen of the Senate and House K-12 education committees. “We want to take a deep dive and make sure that we’re getting every penny that we can to that classroom across the board, whether it’s a traditional public school, a magnet, a charter,” says Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah. Miami Herald.

Bullying in school: Faced with statistics that bullying in schools is up, and several recent examples, Broward County School Board members say they plan to take a closer look at what they can do to cut down on bullying and the violence that often accompanies it. Sun-Sentinel.

Testing reform: The Brevard County School Board and the legislative delegation agree that standardized testing in schools needs to be reformed. The first step they’d like to see is giving school districts the option of switching the tests from computers to paper and pencils. Florida Today.

Retaining teachers: More than 400 teachers have left their Volusia County jobs in each of the past two years, with many citing a lack of respect and pay. The exodus, together with the national teacher shortage, worries school leaders. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Avossa on pay raise: Palm Beach County School Superintendent Robert Avossa says the debate over his proposed $10,000 pay raise has been a distraction, and he’s asking school board members to put the issue on hold. Palm Beach Post.

Dealing with growth: Rapid growth is a problem for the St. Johns County School District. School officials hope the concurrency program, which allows the district to collect fees when it has to build new schools to accommodate population growth, will mitigate the financial burden to some degree. The first school to be built under the program opens in 2018. St. Augustine Record.

School impact fees: Citrus County commissioners will consider whether to reinstate any of the impact fees that have been suspended since January 2015. Transportation and schools needs are the county’s two top priorities driving the reconsideration. Citrus County Chronicle.

Personnel changes: Ron DiPillo has been appointed the Sarasota County School District’s executive director of career, technical, and adult education. DePillo, 50, was the assistant director of career education K-12 programs. He succeeds Todd Bowden, who takes over as superintendent in March. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Three new principals are appointed in Volusia County, and four others switch schools. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Advocate for deaf: Cris Arenth, newly named teacher of the year in Orange County, wants to use her position to push for all parents of deaf children to learn sign language so they converse with them. Orlando Sentinel.

School board leader: When Larry Feldman retired from the Miami-Dade School District after 35 years, he wanted to stay connected to education. So he ran for a school board seat, and now he’s the board chairman. Miami Herald.

Pons’ predicament: If former Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons can’t find a job in the Florida Retirement System in the next two weeks, he’ll lose more than $200,000 in expected retirement benefits. Pons lost his bid for re-election Nov. 8, and was turned down when he asked if he could return to a job with the district. Tallahassee Democrat.

Child hit by truck: A 9-year-old boy is in critical condition after he was hit by a truck while walking home from school. Police say the boy was not in a designated crosswalk, and the driver will likely not be charged. Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher arrested: A teacher at the Plato Academy charter school in Largo is arrested after he drove onto a sidewalk and hit two people, then left the scene. Vincent Edward Barone said he was playing Pokemon Go. Both pedestrians were hospitalized, one in critical condition. WFLA. WTSP.

Resentencing set: A University Christian student who killed in a classmate in 2010 will be resentenced in January. Charles Roy Southern was 17 when he shot Makia Coney. Since then, the U.S. and Florida supreme courts have issued rulings that call for the re-evaluation of life sentences for juveniles. Florida Times-Union.

School bus shot at: A 17-year-old is arrested after shooting a pellet gun at a Wolfson High School bus and injuring a student. Florida Times-Union.

Opinions on schools: Si, all south Florida students should learn Spanish at school. Andrew Abramson, Sun-Sentinel. It is still early in the process, and there is much we don’t know about school superintendent finalist Diane Kornegay. But you have to like her grit, her determination and her courage for addressing the only thing that really matters in this discussion – the shortcomings of the Lake County School District. Daily Commercial. It’s said the first step to overcoming a problem is acknowledging you have one. Well, the Marion County School District’s problem with underachieving schools has certainly been acknowledged. Now it is time to aggressively identify solutions. Ocala Star Banner. Our students need us to be role models and stand up to bullies. Let’s not disappoint them. Pam Kancher, Orlando Sentinel. Career academies have been one of the unheralded success stories of public education. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student enrichment: Past and present Apollo Middle School students cheer as their civics teacher, Bernadette Davis, is sworn in as a U.S. citizen. Miami Herald. Needy students in Okaloosa and Walton counties are getting backpacks of food for the holiday break from nonprofit organization Food for Thought. Northwest Florida Daily News. Seniors at Oasis Charter High School volunteer for a day at a Habitat for Humanity house. North Fort Myers Neighbor. The Santa Rosa County Library begins offering an online program for people interested in getting a high school diploma. Pensacola News Journal. Taylor Mundy, a Mulberry High School senior, delivers Christmas gifts to children who otherwise might receive none. Lakeland Ledger. Jessica DeFrance, a senior at Classical Christian Academy, sews blankets and present gift baskets for the parents of premature babies at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Fort Myers. Naples Daily News. Students at Gateway Christian School in Mount Dora contribute to four projects that help children and families in the community. Daily Commercial. Logan Beatty, a freshman at Land O’Lakes High School, visited the White House in October to take part in President Barack Obama’s Kid Science Advisors program. Tampa Bay Times. A fourth-grade teacher at La Core Christian Elementary School in Jacksonville uses singing to help students learn long division. “Times are changing and you have to change with the kids,” says Nadine Ebri. “So I try to integrate songs with everything that I do.” WTLV.