Florida schools roundup: Charters, recess, bathrooms, food truck and more

Gambling and charters: Under a gambling bill filed in the Florida House, a third of the estimated $400 million revenue from the state’s agreement would go to charter schools, a third to K-12 teacher bonuses, recruitment and training, and a third to recruiting and retaining higher education faculty. The House bill would protect the status quo for gambling in the state, while the Florida Senate’s bill would greatly expand slot machines and Indian gaming. Miami Herald. Politico Florida.

Recess movement: While some educators and legislators say they’re concerned that mandating daily recess for all the state’s elementary schools could hurt classtime flexibility for teachers, there does not appear to be an organized movement to block the measure. State Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando, said, “there’s no one that’s actively lobbying against” the effort. Miami Herald.

Bathroom access: School leaders around Florida say they will continue to protect the rights of transgender children despite President Trump’s decision to rescind a directive that urged schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender they identify with. But districts without specific policies are looking for direction on ways to accommodate transgender students within the law. Orlando Sentinel. Miami Herald. Sun-SentinelTampa Bay Times. WPLG. WFTV.

District’s food truck: The Alachua County School Board has bought a food truck for $154,000, and will move it around between schools to try to get students interested in eating healthier food. The truck is expected to be ready for service by mid-April. Gainesville Sun.

Materials challenge: A bill is filed in the Florida House that would make it easier to challenge materials used in classrooms. The bill, introduced by State Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, would tightly define what acceptable classroom materials are. There is no companion bill in the Senate. Gradebook.

More magnet schools: Marion County school officials are planning to add a magnet program to every school in the district. They’ll start at several low-performing elementary schools in the rural parts of the county. Students will be chosen for the programs by lottery. Ocala Star Banner.

Gifted expansion: Two Seminole County school officials are named “leaders to learn from” by Education Week for expanding gifted programs in the district. Superintendent Walt Griffin and school psychologist Jeanette Lukens were honored for the work, called Project Elevate, that expanded the gifted programs to five lower-income schools. Orlando Sentinel.

District rating: Ten years ago, the Collier County School District was put on probation by the accreditation agency AdvancED. This week, a member of the accreditation team that recently reviewed the district called it a “model school district.” Collier’s score of 329.51 was about 18 percent higher than the average of schools evaluated by AdvancED. Naples Daily News.

School rezoning: Hundreds of Nassau County students will switch schools next year after the school board approves a rezoning plan intended to alleviate overcrowding in Yulee schools. WJAX. The state Division of Administrative Hearings has delayed a hearing for a week on a complaint filed by Pasco County parents against proposed school rezonings. Gradebook.

Technical school: The Pinellas County School Board is being asked to approve $10.5 million for construction of the Career Academies of Seminole Technical High School. The district’s first technical high school was to open in August, but officials now want to delay it a year. Tampa Bay Times.

City helps schools: The city of Coral Springs is giving $10,000 to help the city’s high schools pay for extras usually not funded by the school district. buy incidentals. “This is the beginning of what I hope will be the Coral Springs Education Fund,” said Vice Mayor Dan Daley. Sun-Sentinel.

Few opt-out here: The movement to opt out of Florida Standards Assessments testing has had a minimal impact in St. Johns County, say school officials. St. Augustine Record.

Notable deaths: William Weathersbee, longtime dean of boys and football coach at Jacksonville’s Raines High School, has died at 88. Florida Times-Union.

Back on the job: Joseph Nathaniel, a teacher who was suspended for nearly a year after breaking up a fight at Sebastian High School, has been reinstated by the Indian River County School Board. A state judge had urged Nathaniel’s exoneration and reinstatement. School officials now must decide whether he goes back to his old job. TCPalm. Justin Troller, the athletic director at Lakeland High School who’s been on leave since Dec. 8 during an investigation into his activities, resumes working for the school district. Troller, 39, who also is a city commissioner in Bartow, is currently assigned to the Polk County School District’s Bartow Airbase administrative offices. The investigation into electronic communications between Troller and a student is continuing. Lakeland Ledger.

Ex-administrator convicted: A former assistant superintendent of the Leon County School District is found guilty of cocaine trafficking. Paul Byrd, 66, was an administrator under five superintendents during his nearly 30-year career. He could get three years in prison and be fined $50,000. Tallahassee Democrat.

School cop arrested: A Putnam County school resource officer resigns after he’s arrested for possession of prescription drugs he confiscated on the job. Raymond Dale Streets, 51, faces charges of grand theft, possession of a controlled substance and failure to perform a duty required by an officer. Florida Times-Union.

Substitute arrested: A substitute teacher at Lake Weir High School is arrested after being accused of groping two female students. Timothy Cooke, 58, was fired by the district. Ocala Star Banner.

School bus crash: A Polo Park Middle School student is hospitalized with minor injuries after a school bus is hit by an SUV in Wellington. Palm Beach Post.

Opinions on schools: The fight for our children and the future of education does not reside in Washington. It resides with the educators, school administrators, parents, students, local leaders and our communities that together, serve as advocates, champions and protectors of public education in this country. Laura Dinehart, Orlando Sentinel. We believe all children need regular breaks during the school day. Schools should make time for recess, as a matter of policy. TCPalm. The Miami-Dade County School District, while technically the “owner” of the WLRN broadcast license, must recognize that it is actually holding the license as a public trust for the benefit of all of South Florida from Palm Beach to Key West. Charles Dusseau, Sun-Sentinel.

Student enrichment: Prom closets are sprouting around south Florida to help students  look good on their special night without spending any money. Sun-Sentinel. Tianiya Hall-Scales, an eighth-grader at Nims Middle School, is a cheerleading team of one. Tallahassee Democrat. Student Leadership Academy, a Venice charter school, is ranked the fourth-best middle school in the state by the independent website Niche. The Sarasota County School District also ranked fourth-best. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Scientist and author Ellen Prager speaks to students at Washington High School’s Marine Science Academy. Pensacola News Journal.