Florida schools roundup: Resuming classes, lawsuit over bonuses and more

Recovering from Irma: Most school districts around the state reopen Monday but several others open even later and two, Monroe and Hardee, remain closed until further notice. Florida Department of Education. Orlando SentinelMiami Herald. Florida Times-UnionFlorida Today. Fort Myers News-PressLakeland Ledger. Gainesville SunOcala Star-Banner. St. Augustine RecordWall Street JournalWPEC. WBBH. WQAM. Schools in many districts around the state are providing meals and air-conditioning to families. WKMG. WLRN. WSVN. The question of why charter schools weren’t used as shelters during Hurricane Irma is making the social media rounds. The answer is simple: Charter schools are not required to meet the construction guidelines for hurricane protection. Traditional public schools are. Gradebook. Seminole County announces its storm makeup days. Orlando Sentinel.

Lawsuit over bonuses: The state’s largest teachers union, the Florida Education Association, is suing the state over the Best & Brightest scholarship program for educators, alleging it discriminates against older and minority teachers. To be eligible for the bonuses, teachers must be rated “highly effective” and have scored in the top 20 percent on the ACT or SAT test. “In some cases, (the teachers) took (the test) so long ago the testing agencies did not even have the scores archived,” says FEA attorney John Davis. Tallahassee Democrat. News Service of Florida. Sun-Sentinel. GradebookWRAL. WFSU.

Elementary school fire: Hillsborough school officials confirm that Lee Elementary School, which was destroyed by fire this week, had no sprinkler system. The 111-year-old building was not required to install such a system unless it underwent a major renovation in recent years. Tampa Bay Times.

H.B. 7069 lawsuit: The Pinellas County School Board is expected to decide next week whether to join other districts in a proposed lawsuit against the state’s new education law, H.B. 7069. More than 10 districts have committed to joining the lawsuit, which has not yet been filed. The districts contend the bill is unconstitutional. Gradebook.

Tax election bill: State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, files a bill that would require 60 percent voter approval for any school tax measure that’s not on a general election ballot. “This is a simple, straightforward way to ensure hardworking taxpayers in Florida are being treated fairly, that there aren’t any tricks and games being played,” says Brandes. Similar bills failed to pass in the Legislature in each of the past two sessions. Gradebook.

DACA deadline: The Department of Homeland Security is considering delaying the Oct. 5 deadline for the 800,000 undocumented immigrant children. known as Dreamers, to renew their status. A Justice Department attorney cites the impacts of hurricanes on Texas, Florida and surrounding states as a reason. Politico Florida.

School demolition: Several classrooms at the former Grand Avenue School in Holden Heights are bulldozed, and preservationists worry that the same thing will happen to the school’s historic main building. A spokeswoman for the Orange County School District says no decision has been made about the future of the structure, which was built in 1926. Orlando Sentinel.

School board elections: Kelso Tanner, a political consultant, says he is running in 2018 for the Hillsborough County School Board’s District 6 seat. Other candidates are Bill Person, Jessica Vaughn and Randy Toler. April Griffin, who has held the seat since 2006, has not yet announced if she will run for re-election. Florida Politics.

School burglarized: Melrose Elementary School in St. Petersburg, which has been closed since Sept. 7 because of the hurricane, has been burglarized. School officials say they’ll have to do an inventory to determine what’s been taken. Gradebook. WTSP.

Opinions on schools: During Hurricane Irma, the vast majority of evacuees learned the value of upgrading public schools to withstand high hurricane-force winds — and witnessed the dedication of principals, janitors and cooks who left their own homes and families in order to care for the public. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.