Florida schools roundup: Budget deal, special session, vetoes and more

Budget deal, special session: Gov. Rick Scott and leaders of the Senate and House reach an agreement on the state budget, and legislators will return to Tallahassee Wednesday through Friday for a special session to vote on the deal. The agreement will boost spending on public education by about $200 million and put $165 million into the economic development agencies Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. Both were goals of Scott’s. In return, Scott will sign an education bill that sets aside more money for the charter school industry, which was a priority for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, and more money for higher education, which was a priority for Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart. Miami Herald and Tampa Bay TimesredefinED. Sunshine State News. Tallahassee Democrat. Orlando Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. One of the 33 bills signed by Gov. Scott approves payments to two former Palm Beach County students injured at school activities. Palm Beach Post.

Reactions to deal: Advocates of public schools say the budget agreement is half good. They like the additional money for education, but remain opposed to the funding gains for charter schools. Miami HeraldGradebook. School officials and the state’s largest teachers union, the Florida Education Association, say the agreement still doesn’t provide enough money for education. Miami HeraldFlorida Politics. Florida’s Democratic lawmakers condemn Scott’s agreement with the legislative leaders, calling it “backroom politics at its worst.” Florida Politics. Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times. St. Johns County school officials worry that state financial support for charter schools means less money for their traditional public schools. The county has no charter schools. St. Augustine Record. Seven struggling schools in Indian River and St. Lucie counties could be competing with charter schools for students under to so-called “schools of hope” provision in the education bill. The bill offers charter companies incentives to move into areas with persistently low-performing schools. TCPalm.

Budget vetoes: Gov. Scott vetoes more than $400 million in programs from the state budget. Among them: $11.4 billion as the state’s portion for the public-school financing program, which is known as the Florida education finance program; $14 million for a school uniform program; $500,000 for the Florida Orchestra to work with schools and community orchestras; and $100,000 for a statewide study about the cost-of-living disparities in Florida school districts. Miami Herald. Tampa Bay TimesNews Service of Florida. Gradebook.

Boost in black teachers: The Pinellas County School District sets a goal of 18 percent black teachers and administrators within 10 years. The number is now 11 percent, and district officials hope to boost it by a percentage point every year. Superintendent Mike Grego said principals “want people in front of students who are in the same diversity of their student population.” Tampa Bay Times.

Teachers get creative: Teachers who can’t get money from their districts for classroom extras are increasingly turning to the Internet to ask for help. And it’s working. Sun Sentinel.

Reading program: Sarasota school officials say a science-based reading curriculum is improving reading comprehension and test scores. The program, known as Direct Instruction or simply SRA, which is short for the publisher Science Research Associates, is phonics-based. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Charter boosts neighborhood: The Downtown Doral Charter Elementary, which just finished its second year, is being credited as a contributing factor in the revitalization of a previously struggling downtown neighborhood. Miami Herald.

School cutbacks: The Marion County School District begins to consider ways to cut spending by up to $10 million. Superintendent Heidi Maier says she is preparing staff cuts, and also will eliminate the $300,000 Accelerated Reader program, which she says isn’t improving reading comprehension for most students. Ocala Star Banner.

Block scheduling: The Lee County School District is moving to a five-by-five block schedule for all middle schools in the fall. The change boosts classroom time for core subjects, like math, reading and language arts, from 45 minutes per class to 65 minutes. Subjects like science and social studies will be offered every other day. Teachers will also get an extra 20 minutes of planning time a day with the new schedule. Fort Myers News-Press.

Social media rules: The Nassau County School Districts sets a social media use policy for its workers. Among the rules: Employees should not use district computers and phones for personal use, or use any social media for official communications with students or parents. WJAX.

Summer learning: School’s out, but Polk County students have a variety of options to avoid summer learning loss. Lakeland Ledger.

Superintendent evaluation: Clay County School Superintendent Addison Davis has done a very good job in his six months, but some school board members think he’s making too many changes too quickly in curriculum and instruction. Davis gave himself a “solid B,” while board members and other school officials rated him between A and B. Davis is an elected superintendent who won office last November. Florida Times-Union.

Teacher honored: Mai Dinh Keisling, an art teacher at Paxon School for Advanced Studies in Jacksonville, win an EVE Award from the Florida Times-Union. EVE stands for education, volunteer service and employment, and one woman from each category is chosen each year. Florida Times-Union.

Personnel moves: Kate Collis, an assistant principal at King Middle School in Manatee County, is named principal at Haile Middle School. Bradenton Herald.

School’s new address: Sarasota High School gets a new address following a reconfiguration of the entrance. The school is now officially at 2155 Bahia Vista St. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Opinions on schools: The cost of the budget deal between Gov. Scott and leaders and the Senate and House is too steep, with the governor poised to allow horrendous legislation to become law that would further dismantle public education. Tampa Bay Times. If you’re keeping score at home: All the state’s political leaders got what they wanted from the legislative session, and you got played. John Romano, Tampa Bay Times. How virtual education changed my son’s life. But unless Gov. Scott signs H.B. 7069 into law, my family will lose that option. Sherrie Johnson-Ojeda, The 74. Kindergarten readiness is more than just knowing your ABCs and 123s.  It’s about developing the whole child, including what it takes to promote social and emotional growth so that our youth can not only read, write, and compute but work well with others, engage their curiosity, and develop creative problem-solving skills. Larry Miller and Megan Just, Fort Myers News-Press. To fight the “summer slump,” libraries at 10 Marion County elementary schools will be open every Wednesday in June and July. School Superintendent Heidi Maier, Ocala Star Banner.

Student enrichment: Eight Florida school districts win gold awards for their efforts to create healthy school environments. The Florida’s Coordinated School Health Partnership, Florida Action for Healthy Kids, Florida Healthy Kids Corporation and Florida Association of District School Superintendents also gave silver or bronze awards to 11 other districts. Fort Myers News-Press. Zachary Kirkland, an eighth-grader at the Bok Academy in Lake Wales, turns a school project into a nonprofit organization, Silly Sock Saturdays. Kirkland collects whimsical socks, coloring book and small toys to deliver to children undergoing treatment in the pediatric ward at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. Lakeland Ledger.

Avatar photo

BY NextSteps staff