Florida schools roundup: Education bill, concern for future of schools and more

Education bill: The Senate is reportedly planning to deliver the education bill to Gov. Rick Scott today. If it does, Scott will have 15 days to decide if he wants to veto the whole thing, parts of it or none of it. Tampa Bay Times. Parents rally for the bill at the offices of the Miami-Dade County School Board. Miami Herald. Hillsborough school officials are campaigning against the education bill on the grounds that it takes too much from traditional public schools to give to charter schools. But they also acknowledge the need for charter schools to help deal with growth. Nine percent of the county’s students now attend charters. Tampa Bay Times.

Rocky schools future: Many school officials believe the President Trump and Florida Legislature education budget proposals signal hard times ahead for traditional public schools. The acceleration of school choice and government support for charter schools is shifting dollars away, and most officials believe further erosion of financial support for traditional public schools is inevitable. Broward school officials say they will lose $83 million for capital spending if the state education budget passes, and Palm Beach officials estimate they’ll take a $230 million hit over 10 years. “In a year when the state is not in economic crisis, we should not be in this economic crisis,” Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning told his school board. Sun Sentinel. Tampa Bay Times.

Personalized learning: Increasingly, personalized learning is being seen as a way to get better educational outcomes. The concept, which revolves around children learning at their own pace, is getting attention now because it’s one of the few educational concepts that draws broad support from all wings in the education reform community. redefinED.

School bus safety: A school district inspector general’s investigation of Palm Beach County school buses reveals that district workers unplugged child-safety alarms on 31 buses but claimed they were working. The child alerts are in place to make sure no child is forgotten aboard the bus. The investigation also found that many buses have expired certifications and have cameras that do not work. The district says corrective measures are being taken. Palm Beach PostWPEC.

Teacher turnover: About 25 percent of the teachers at eight struggling Pinellas County elementary schools will not return to their schools next school year. That includes teachers who asked for transfers and those who are being recommended for transfer by their principals. Tampa Bay Times.

District finals negated: The Pasco County School District says results of the district’s final course exams will not be used to calculate students’ final grades. Teachers and parents have been complaining that the content of the exams did not reflect what students were taught during the school year. The school board will re-evaluate the district finals this summer. Gradebook.

Reading tests: Seventy percent of Clay County third-graders passed the Florida Standards Assessments reading exams, an improvement of 6 percentage points over last year’s performance. The county was sixth in Florida in proficiency. St. Johns County led the state with 80 percent, followed by Nassau County’s 78 percent. Florida Times-Union.

Suspension alternatives: The Pinellas County School District’s suspension alternative program is off to a slow start. Almost 4,000 students had been issued suspensions by the end of April, and just 135 chose to enter the Alternative Placement Program, where they do schoolwork under a teacher’s supervision. Tampa Bay Times.

Spring break: After a survey and a re-evaluation, the Brevard County School District will keep spring break as originally scheduled during the first week of April in 2018. The school board has asked for a re-evaluation, and an online survey of about 2,200 people showed 44 percent liked the first week in April. About 28 percent preferred March 12-16, and the same percentage liked March 19-23. Space Coast Daily.

School start times: Two Monroe County schools will change start and finish times next school year. The district wanted to change more, but Superintendent Mark Porter says it can’t because it doesn’t have enough school bus drivers. Keynoter.

D.C. trip changes: The annual school safety patrol trip to Washington, D.C., has increasingly been changing from a long train trip to a plane flight. Palm Beach Post.

Personnel moves: Christine Hoffman, the former principal at St. Petersburg’s Campbell Park Elementary School, will retire. Her decision ends a school investigation into her recent directive that white students at the majority black school should be assigned to the same class. Tampa Bay Times. Shirley Baker has been appointed the Bay County School District’s first “turnaround principal,” at Cedar Grove Elementary School, which has received D or F grades from the state since 2012. Panama City News Herald. State Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando, is appointed by Gov. Scott to the Southern Regional Education Board. The board consists of representatives from 16 states. Florida Politics. Politico Florida.

Yearbook includes dog: Frontier Elementary School’s yearbook has pictures of every student – and one dog. Ketch, the service dog for second-grader Ethan Amara, appears beside Ethan as Ketch Amara. Ethan has diabetes, and Ketch accompanies him because he can smell when Ethan’s blood sugar is out of balance. When Ethan saw the yearbook, he said: “I can’t believe that Ketch has my last name. It was very cool.” Sun Sentinel. Palm Beach Post.

Two students killed: Two Polk County students die in a car crash as they were on their way to the Mulberry High School graduation ceremony. Pepe Salgado, 18, and Frinzi Salgado-Diaz, 15, died, and graduating senior Edilberto Nava-Marcos, 18, was critically injured. Lakeland LedgerWFLA. Tampa Bay Times.

Dozen seek board seat: A dozen people are asking Gov. Rick Scott to consider appointing them to the Manatee County School Board seat being vacated by Karen Carpenter, who is moving out of state. Bradenton Herald.

School fined: Tallahassee’s Lincoln High School has been fined and placed on probation by the Florida High School Athletic Association for using an ineligible player in the boys basketball program last season. And basketball coach Dimitric Salters, who had already been suspended after a March arrest on fraud and grand theft charges, will not return to the school. Tallahassee Democrat.

Teacher cleared: A school district investigation clears a Lincoln Memorial Middle School teacher who was accused of inappropriately touching a student. Investigators say the touch was accidental. The teacher was reprimanded for putting himself into the situation, but will return to the classroom. Bradenton Herald.

Teacher arrested after threats: A Brevard County schools speech pathologist is arrested after allegedly threatening her principal. Kimberly Loomis, 47, allegedly sent threatening texts to Lori Masterston. Brevard Times.

Students arrested for porn: Four Burns Middle School students are arrested and accused of child pornography. Police say they secretly recorded a 12-year-old girl performing a sex act and then posted it online. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA.

Opinions on schools: Among those pushing for Gov. Scott to sign the education bill are the Koch brothers and the Libre Initiative, a group founded by the Kochs and supported by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Miami New Times. The Legislature may have had good intentions in its initial education budget proposal, such as a reduction in statewide assessments, but the bad provisions far outweigh the good, making the bill unacceptable. Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie, Sun Sentinel. School funding is buried in a garden of good and evil. Pensacola News Journal. The importance of a high-quality early learning program can be measured in both educational and economic terms. Susan Block, Fort Myers News-Press. Our goals for the Sarasota County School District are to maintain excellence and strive for even better results, focus more resources on students who need the most help and ensure that every student graduates ready to succeed in college or in a rewarding career. Superintendent Todd Bowden, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. School and community leaders parents need to work together to make sure parents are involved in their children’s educations in the most effective way possible. Nathan Crabbe, Gainesville Sun. No one knows if the higher third-grade language arts scores are a sign of more good things to come, but for now, Marion County schools needed a win, and this is clearly a win for students, teachers and the community. Ocala Star Banner.

Student enrichment: The University of Florida names eight high school seniors to the Lombardi Scholars Program and three to the Stamps Scholars Program. University of Florida. Fifth-graders at Tampa’s Booker T. Washington Elementary School take over classroom instruction for younger students. Tampa Bay Times. Duval County eighth- and ninth-graders learn about social, emotional and mental needs at two special mental health conferences. Florida Times-Union. Blake Academy’s Bridge Heroes program provides school yearbooks for students who can’t afford them. Lakeland Ledger. Fifteen third- and fourth-graders at Immokalee Community School read their poetry to students, teachers and parents. Naples Daily News. Two West Palm Beach high school students are donating $1,000 to the Fayette County School District in Lexington, Ky., to help pay unpaid cafeteria bills. Christian Cordon-Cano’s and Bernardo Hasbach’s organization, School Lunch Fairies, raises money to retire unpaid cafeteria bills or sets up funds for students who can’t pay for lunch. Lexington, Ky., Herald-Leader. A sensory-motor classroom is built for special needs students at Pensacola’s Washington High School. Pensacola News Journal.