Florida schools roundup: Extended legislative session, Title I and more

Overtime for Legislature: Senate and House leaders can’t reach a budget agreement on time to avoid an extension of the legislative session. Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, says he doubts an agreement on the $83 billion budget will be reached before Friday, though House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, was more optimistic. There’s a 72-hour “cooling off” period required after a budget agreement is reached but before a final vote. Corcoran says the biggest point of contention is about hospital spendingMiami Herald and Tampa Bay Times. Sun-Sentinel. Naples Daily NewsNews Service of Florida. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The House rejects a bill that would have allowed two members of any government agency, including school boards, to meet in private to discuss public business. Miami Herald.

Title I portability: Distribution of federal Title I funding continues to be a topic of debate in the Legislature. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that puts a cap on the use of Title I funds for administrative purposes and allows charter school networks to be designated as local education agencies so they can get money directly from the federal government. redefinED.

Reading coaches spared: The Duval County School Board rejects a recommendation by Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to move the district’s reading coaches back to regular teaching roles. Board chairwoman Paula Wright says the district has struggled for years with reading achievement, and the board wants to make literacy a top budget priority. Vitti has accepted a job as superintendent of the Detroit school system, but has said he wants to help the board get through the budget process before he leaves. Florida Times-Union.

Governor’s race: Education issues dominate Gwen Graham’s announcement that she will be a candidate for governor in 2018. She said she would make more money available for schools, stop attaching failing grades to schools and end high-stakes testing, among other things. Graham faces competition in the Democratic primary from Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, and Chris King, an Orlando businessman. Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam leads a Republican field with more entrants expected. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. Tallahassee Democrat.

New superintendent: Jim Tager, a Volusia County high school principal, is chosen by the Flagler County School Board to become school superintendent. He replaces Jacob Oliva, who leaves later this month to become vice chancellor of K-12 public schools with the state Department of Education. Tager had been principal at Atlantic High School in Port Orange since 2015. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Board member resigns: Manatee County School Board member Karen Carpenter resigns, saying she’s moving to Massachusetts to live with her children and grandchildren. Carpenter, 74, was first elected in 2010 and is the board’s longest-serving member. She would have been up for re-election in 2018. Gov. Rick Scott will appoint a replacement for the rest of her term. Bradenton Herald.

Protest for diversity: Dozens of people protest the Lee County School Board’s recent decision not to adopt an NAACP plan that would have redrawn voting boundaries in a way to encourage racial diversity on the board. There has never been a black member of the board in its 128-year history. The board rejected the plan, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that said race cannot be a motivating factor in the formation of a legislative district boundary. Fort Myers News-Press.

Contract negotiations: The Pasco County School Board approves a 3 percent raise for teachers and other school personnel, and 2.65 percent for nonbargaining employees. The contract now goes to the union for ratification. Tampa Bay Times.

School may close: The Palm Beach County School Board will consider closing a school for the first time in almost 50 years. Odyssey Middle School in Boynton Beach is half-empty, and the board may vote today to close it, reassign its remaining students and lease the building to the South Tech Academy and South Tech Prep charters schools for grades 6-12,  Palm Beach Post.

Good Friday classes: Pasco County School Superintendent Kurt Browning says he’s not inclined to change the 2017-2018 school calendar to close schools for Good Friday. The Pasco County School Board heard arguments for and against holding school that day, and is expected to decide at its next meeting May 16. Gradebook.

Smoking ban: Smoking will be banned on all Sarasota County School District property and vehicles, the school board decides unanimously. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

New school buses: The Lee County School Board approves a plan to spend $5.9 million for 58 new school buses. Fort Myers News-Press.

School gets a name: A new elementary school being built in the World Golf Village in St. Johns County will be named Picolata Crossing Elementary School, the school board decides. St. Augustine Record.

Hefty book bill: The Alachua County School District will spend about $480,000 for new elementary school social studies books, and another $38,000 for shipping, Gainesville Sun.

Personnel changes: Kathleen S. Young-Parker, principal of Cypress Woods Elementary in Palm Harbor, is named principal for Campbell Park Elementary in St. Petersburg in June. She replaces Christine Hoffman, who was removed after sending an email to the staff making next year’s class assignments that “white students should be in the same class.” Tampa Bay Times. Eight new principals are appointed to Hillsborough County schools. All begin June 5. Gradebook. Ten new principals are named to lead Collier County schools. Naples Daily News. The Alachua County School Board approves the creation of a new position for an educational equity and outreach director. The director would develop programs to promote equal education opportunities and help train staff. Gainesville Sun.

Student dies: A Chiles High School student who collapsed on the school’s tennis courts last Thursday has died. Davion Mikel Stephens, a senior, had an enlarged heart and died of cardiac arrest in the hospital Tuesday. Tallahassee Democrat.

Employee arrested: An after-school care worker at Ruskin Elementary School is arrested Monday and accused of molesting a girl. Javier Maza Morales, 18, was an aide for the Redlands Christian Migrant Association. Tampa Bay Times.

Student arrested: A 13-year-old girl is arrested after leaving a message at King Middle School that said she would shoot staff and students. She is reportedly not a student at the school. Deputies say “there was no evidence that she planned or had the ability to carry out the threat.” Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Opinions on schools: A tree is being planted at every public school in Duval County, and each one represents a civics lesson for students. Mark Woods, Florida Times-Union. Policy makers continue to approach education as if the three levels – K-12, colleges and universities – are somehow unrelated, when in reality, excellence in all three are interdependent and critical for Florida’s success in a global marketplace. Jim Murdaugh, Tallahassee Democrat. As we recognize National Teacher Appreciation Week, I encourage those of you who have children in school to take a moment to thank their teachers for all they do each and every day. George Hanbury, Sun-Sentinel.

Student enrichment: Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie has a small role in South Plantation High School’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. Teacher Jason Zembuch hopes the appearance of Runcie and other familiar faces from the community will bring attention to the musical. Sun-Sentinel. About 200 students from Orange Park Junior High School get practical legal lessons during a three-day federal court outreach program. Florida Times-Union. A Miami-Dade County woman buys an old school bus and turn it into a mobile fitness center for students at day-care centers and elementary schools in south Florida. Crystal Williams, 28, started her AET Kids Fit & Fun Bus business in October. Miami Herald. University of Miami football players and other athletes offer tips to students from Colonial Drive and Henry S. West Laboratory schools about the importance of staying active and paying attention to what they eat. Miami Herald. Flagler County middle school students teach a technology class for adults at the Flagler County Public Library’s main branch in Palm Coast. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Residents  at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital visit a St. Petersburg school to advise fourth-graders about avoiding toxic stress and expressing their emotions. Tampa Bay Times.