Florida schools roundup: School sales tax holiday, education bill and more

Sales tax holiday: Gov. Rick Scott approves a three-day sales tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers. It’s Aug. 4-6, and gives shoppers a tax break on clothes, school supplies, computers and computer accessories. Scott also approves a three-day sales tax holiday to buy hurricane supplies. In signing the bill, Scott again criticizes the Legislature’s budget and education bills, but gave no indication of whether he would veto either. Palm Beach PostGradebook. News Service of Florida.

Education bill: Parents of Gardiner scholarship students are lobbying Gov. Scott to sign the education bill, which would greatly expand the program that benefits children with special needs. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the Gardiner scholarships redefinED.

Interim’s goals: Patricia Willis, the interim superintendent for the Duval County School District, says she will focus on improving third-grade reading and graduation rates. Willis, a former deputy superintendent for the district, will run the system until the school board finds a permanent replacement for Nikolai Vitti, who left last week to lead the Detroit school system. Florida Times-Union.

Reading test results: School districts in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties all show gains in the Florida Standards Assessments reading test for third-graders. Fort Myers News-Press.

IB expansion: Pine View Elementary School in Land O’Lakes is approved to become a Primary Years International Baccalaureate school in the fall. The designation means that all three levels of schooling in Pasco County will have an IB program. The others are at Pine View Middle School and Land O’Lakes High School. Gradebook.

Teacher training: The Volusia County School District will spend almost $60,000 to have 97 teachers and administrators train at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. Clark is the author of The Essential 55 Rules for classroom success, which emphasizes offbeat methods to engage students in learning. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Talking about fighting: More than 150 Broward County middle and high school students meet at Dillard High School to talk about why bullying and fighting persist. School officials hope such meetings will lead to less confrontation, and they plan to take the town meeting approach to several other schools. Sun Sentinel.

School cancer query: An administrator for Florida Department of Health in Manatee County tells the school board and county commission that any investigation into a seemingly high rate of cancers for alumni and staff from the old Bayshore High School must first determine if there is a cancer cluster. If that is shown to be true, says Jennifer Bencie, then the search for the cause should begin. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Superintendent Q&A: Incoming Flagler County School Superintendent James Tager talks about discipline, school partnerships, the arts and more in a Q&A. Flagler Live.

Notable deaths: Arthur Pla, a longtime Leon County teacher, assistant principal, football coach and the first black to head the district’s transportation department, dies at the age of 71. Tallahassee Democrat.

Civil war lockdown: Two Manatee County schools are put on lockdown after a teacher brings a Civil War-era musket to school as part of a demonstration. Mike Barber, a Braden River Middle School history teacher, told school officials he was bringing the gun. But when someone saw him enter the school carrying it, deputies were called and the middle school and Braden River Elementary School went into lockdown mode. Bradenton HeraldWTSP. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WFLA.

Student killed in drive-by: A high school senior is murdered in a drive-by shooting as he walks home from school. Jovantae Jackson, 18,  was shot five times as he was walking home with some classmates from the Stellar Leadership Academy Charter School. Miami Herald.

Arrest in janitor murders: Four years after two janitors were murdered at the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, a suspect is arrested. Javier Burgos, who is from Colombia, reportedly has admitted shooting Christopher Marshall and Ted Orama on June 19, 2013. Palm Beach Post.

Tale of two treasurers: Two Palm Beach County school treasurers were accused of stealing money. Prosecutors declined to press charges against the one who allegedly took $66,000, but prosecuted the one who took $7,200. She’s now in jail, but many parents, teachers and school officials are puzzled by the disparity in outcomes. Palm Beach Post.

School band trailer stolen: Indian River County deputies are looking for a man who drove away with the school band’s trailer from Sebastian River High School earlier this month. TCPalm.

Opinions on schools: The “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberty Act” is heading to the governor’s desk cloaked in the garb of religious freedom. Gov. Rick Scott should veto this ill-considered effort. Sun Sentinel. The governor needs to see House Bill 7069, for the disaster that it is – and, more important, the disaster it will mean for public-school students statewide – and veto it. Miami Herald. Treasure Coast third-graders showed improvement in reading test scores, but there’s room for further improvement. TCPalm. When it comes to the education of our children, we the parents should have the choice of picking the school. Elaina Thomas Hansen, Gainesville Sun. The Marion County School District should find a way to accommodate the Kingdom of the Sun band’s need for a place to practice and perform. Ocala Star Banner. The studio instructional model of learning takes full advantage of the power of social interactions in the classroom to perform hands-on experiments and learn problem-solving techniques. Paul Cottle, Tallahassee Democrat. What’s behind the political calculus of Gov. Rick Scott’s decision whether to veto the education bill. Peter Schorsch, Florida Politics. Charter schools serve almost 300,000 Florida families. By failing to share funds, districts treat those families as second class citizens. HB 7069 would make things right by providing equal funding. Lynn Norman-Teck, Florida Charter School Alliance.

Student enrichment: Chessy Prout, a graduate of the Community School of Naples, becomes an advocate for sexual assault victims after recovering from her own attack. Naples Daily News. Sean Mahoney, injured in a 2015  boating accident and told he wouldn’t walk again, walks across the stage with help from friends to receive his diploma from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. Sun Sentinel. Two Tampa juniors in neighboring schools post perfect scores on the ACT test in their first try. Tampa Catholic’s John Felletter and Jesuit’s Matthew Tamashiro, are among the elite: just one-tenth of 1 percent of U.S. high school students make perfect scores. Tampa Bay Times. Christian Sailor, an 8-year-old student at Riley Elementary School in Tallahassee, is writing a book about becoming a police officer. Tallahassee Democrat. Three elementary schools in Palm Beach County have their students learn lessons in English for half a day and Spanish for the other half. Palm Beach Post. Students from Laurel Oak Elementary School get an close-up lesson in living with alligators. Naples Daily News. The Wiles Elementary School chorus will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York next month. Gainesville Sun.

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BY NextSteps staff