Florida schools roundup: Tax holiday, budgets, recess, court order and more

School tax holiday: The state’s annual back-to-school sales tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Computers and other technology equipment are back on the tax-free list after being off it last year. Sun Sentinel. Pensacola News Journal. Fort Myers News-Press. Palm Beach Post. Specifics on what is – and what isn’t – tax-free. WFLA. Florida Department of Revenue.

School budgets: The Clay County School District is considering a $386 million budget, which is about 1.8 percent higher than last year’s. The board’s final vote is Sept. 7. Florida Times-Union. School boards in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties will hold their first public hearings today on their proposed budgets. Tampa Bay Times. Brevard County might be able to pay for teacher raises with some tweaks in its $963 million budget. Meanwhile, Superintendent Desmond Blackburn says having a centralized banking account and hiring armored cars to deliver money to the bank are a “dire necessity” to fighting theft from schools. Florida Today. The Lake County School Board gives tentative approval to a $573.4 million budget, which is almost $24.5 million higher than last year’s. Daily Commercial.

School recess: So-called “recess moms” worry that the state law requiring 20 minutes of recess a day in elementary schools will be watered down by school administrators whom have been entrusted to implement the law. Specifically, they are concerned that principals will allow students to take recess indoors, and that students will continue to sit at their desks instead of playing outdoors. Gradebook.

Desegregation order: The Indian River County School District is asking a federal court to release it from parts of a 1967 desegregation order that set up plans for racially balanced schools taught by diverse staffs to create an equitable education system for minority students. The district thinks it’s made enough progress for the order to be partially lifted. But the local NAACP branch, which has criticized the board’s push to lift the order, did not join the request to the court. TCPalm.

H.B. 7069 lawsuit: The Duval County School Board will consider joining five other school districts in suing the state over the new education law, H.B. 7069. Florida Times-Union.

Enrollment growth: St. Johns County public school officials anticipate 3.6 percent more students to enroll this year, well above the average 0.9 percent growth rate for the state. Orange County will add the most students, 4,668, while Jefferson County is projected to have a 9.5 percent drop in enrollment, according to the Florida Department of Education. St. Augustine Record.

Charter schools: Lincoln Middle School in Manatee County could soon become the 23rd public school in Florida to convert to a charter school with majority approval from parents and teachers. If the school board approves, the school would change some of the curriculum and extend the school day by an hour. redefinED. The Florida company Charter Schools USA would give control of three schools back the Indianapolis School District within three years under an agreement with the Indiana Board of Education. The schools were struggling when the state turned to the charter company in 2011, but are still rated F schools on the state’s accountability scale. WFYI.

College problems: Florida’s graduating high school seniors are finding fewer options for attending career-oriented schools, as more than 100 for-profit colleges have closed in the past three years and another 80 are in danger of losing their accreditation. Sun Sentinel.

Low-performing schools: Twenty-six Duval County schools are among the 300 lowest performing elementary schools in the state, according to the Department of Education. WJAX.

Top school systems: Florida has the 21st best public school system in the country, according to ratings of the 50 states and the District of Columbia by WalletHub. The state came in 31st in quality, and tied for the lowest for median SAT scores, but boosted its overall ranking by finishing 12th in school safety. News Talk Florida.

School properties: The Pasco County School Board is expected to approve the sale of two pieces of property for about $186,000. School officials say the parcels, which are adjacent to schools, are unneeded. Gradebook.

Charter school sold: ESJ Capital Partners of Aventura and MG3 Development Group of Hollywood have sold two charter schools for $33 million to Portland-based Charter School Capital. The Renaissance Charter School in Tamarac was sold for about $22 million, and the Kid’s Community College South in Hillsborough County went for about $11 million. The Real Deal.

Teacher honored: Lauralee Mitchell, a first grade teacher at Shadeville Elementary School and Wakulla County teacher of the year, is given a “Magic of Giving Back” award by the Florida Department of Education for going above and beyond in their classrooms and communities. Tallahassee Democrat.

Student voters: The Pasco County Supervisor of Elections wants to deputize school principals so they can accept voter registrations from students this fall. Gradebook.

Dry erase boards recall: About 1.6 million dry erase whiteboards are being recalled because they pose a laceration hazard to teachers and students. The Write Again magnetic dry erase boards are made by Really Good Stuff. Miami Herald.

School start times: Bay County school officials announce new start times: high school students will start school at 8:15 a.m. Nearly all elementary schools begin at 7:30, and most middle schools at 9. Panama City News Herald.

Personnel moves: Eight Alachua County schools are getting new principals this year. Gainesville Sun. Jamie Lowicz is named acting principal of Oak Park School, which serves special-needs students from pre-K through age 22. She succeeds Edwina Oliver, who  was recently named principal of Emma E. Booker Elementary School. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Teacher’s license revoked: The state permanently revokes the license of a Loggers’ Run Middle School teacher who sent nude photos of himself to a 14-year-old student. Matthew L. Webster, 43, was arrested in January 2016 on two charges of transmission of harmful material to a minor, and pleaded guilty four months later. Palm Beach Post.

District sued: A former secretary with the Seminole County School District is suing over her dismissal, alleging age discrimination. Carmel Saxon, 64, says a younger boss called her “old and frustrated” and she lost her job in 2013. She and the district have until Aug. 21 to reach a settlement, or the case will go to trial in district court. Orlando Sentinel.

Life for custodians’ killer: Javier Burgos is sentenced to life in prison for the 2013 slayings of two custodians at the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. Burgos, 57, pleaded guilty to shooting Christopher Marshall and Ted Orama. Palm Beach Post.

Opinions on schools: The burden of solving the growing shortage of the math and science teachers has fallen to Florida’s school districts, since neither the state government nor the teacher-preparation programs at our universities are making significant progress on this issue. Paul Cottle, Orlando Sentinel. The Polk County School District is reducing the number of standardized tests students take from 140 to 20. If it works as hoped, perhaps Polk can lead the way in demonstrating to other school districts, and policy-makers in Tallahassee, that sometimes you really can do more with less. Lakeland Ledger.

Student enrichment: The Jax Journey and the Jacksonville Children’s Commission will increase their contributions to expand after-school programs by about 740 Jacksonville students this fall. Florida Times-Union. WJAX. A 58-second video of Orlando preschoolers spelling their names out loud draw 300,000 views on the Internet. Orlando Sentinel. Residents of Manatee County have several options for donating school supplies to needy children. Bradenton Herald. More than 1,000 families attend the Flagler County Back to School Jam for supplies and back-to-school information. Daytona Beach News-Journal.