Florida schools roundup: Charter appeal, constitution review, recess and more

Charter denials upheld: An appeals court rules that the Florida Board of Education overstepped its authority by overruling the denial of two charter school applications by the Indian River County School Board in 2015. The 4th District Court of Appeal judges ruled that Indian River County board had “clear and convincing evidence” to support the denial of the proposed Somerset Academy Inc. charter schools, and that the board had “painstakingly pointed out how Somerset’s applications patently showed that Somerset’s intended budget was financially unrealistic and untenable.” Backers of the Somerset schools had appealed the denial to the state Board of Education. The state board has lost similar cases at the appellate level in Seminole and Polk counties. News Service of Florida. Florida Politics. Sunshine State News. Politico Florida.

Constitutional review: The education committee of the Constitution Review Commission meets today, and one of the proposals it could consider is an amendment that would invalidate any current or future legal challenges of state education laws by local school districts. At least 14 districts have already decided to join forces to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s new education law, H.B. 7069, which requires local districts to share property tax revenues with privately run charter schools. The commission meets every 20 years to propose changes to the state constitution. Capitol News ServiceGradebook.

Recess time: The Alachua County School District is adding five minutes to the end of each elementary school day to meet the state-required 20 minutes of daily recess. Gainesville Sun.

State testing: The Miami-Dade County School District is asking the state to push back the dates standardized testing to allow schools to recover the time lost to Hurricane Irma. District students were out of school seven days, and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is asking for a week’s delay in testing. WLRN. Duval County school officials are warning that the Florida Board of Education’s plan to raise the standards for some tests required for graduation will result in steep declines in the graduation rate. Kelly-Coker Daniel, Duval’s assistant superintendent of accountability and assessment, says graduation rates in the county could fall 10 percent if the changes are approved. Florida Times-Union. The Hernando County School District announces a cutback in the number of tests it will require students to take. WTVT.

Students arriving: About 40 students who were displaced by hurricanes from Puerto Rico, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys have enrolled in Palm Beach County schools, and more are expected soon there and elsewhere around the state. Palm Beach Post. WKMG. WTVT.

Makeup days: The Broward County School Board approves a plan to make up class time lost to Hurricane Irma by converting two early-release days into full school days. Doing so puts the district in compliance with the state’s required instructional hours for a school year. WQAM. Monroe County school officials say the first makeup day for time lost to Hurricane Irma will be Oct. 16, which had been a professional development day. Two other makeup days were waived by the state. But that still leaves a lot of days to make up – 12 days for some students, 14 for some and 17 for others. The district staggered school reopenings Sept. 25, Sept. 27 and Oct. 2. Keynoter.

Contract agreement: Pinellas County teachers and support staff approve a new contract with the school district that calls for a 2.65 percent pay raise and a $43,000 starting salary for teachers. Just over 2,500 of the 7,400 teachers represented by the union voted, with 88 percent approving the agreement. Gradebook.

Borrowing money: The Martin County School District will borrow $9.9 million to upgrade the athletic facilities at South Fork High School and weatherproof some buildings. On a 3-2 vote, school board members approve the loan so the work can begin soon. The board hopes to repay the loan when it sells the current administration building in Stuart. TCPalm.

School tax on ballot: The Okaloosa County Commission agrees to put a 10-year, half-cent sales tax hike for schools on a special election ballot May 15. The $15 million-a-year revenue boost would be used for new buses, capital improvement projects at schools and possibly a high school in Destin. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Accelerated math: Palm Beach County school officials report impressive gains from a competency-based math learning program. The program started last year at 41 schools with 1,358 students, and was expanded to 68 schools and 2,580 students this year. The program allows students to progress at their own pace, with a goal of having students take more complex math before graduation. Sun-Sentinel.

Schools boiling water: Ten Manatee County schools and everyone in Bradenton are under a boil water caution at least through today. The caution was prompted by a brief shutdown of the city’s water system Monday. Bradenton Herald.

Insurance rates up: Health insurance rates are going up almost 2 percent in 2018 for Sarasota County School District employees. The school board approved the increase, which is the smallest increase in five years. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Child abuse investigation: An Okaloosa County school resource officer was disciplined for not assisting the Florida Department of Children and Families in several child abuse investigations at Kenwood Elementary School in Fort Walton Beach. Dwayne Vasiloff was the school resource officer from 2013 until he was disciplined. He has since retired. Three district employees have been arrested in the case – a teacher for child abuse, and an administrator and district administrator for failure to report suspected child abuse. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Fire ruled accidental: A fire that destroyed Lee Elementary School in Tampa last month was caused by a failure in the electrical system, according to a fire marshal’s report. Damage from Hurricane Irma also contributed to the electrical failure, according to the report. Gradebook.

Traffic proposal: The Somerset Academy is offering the city of Pembroke Pines several proposals to clear up the chronic traffic jams around the school. Residents near the school have complained for years that traffic is so bad in the mornings that they have a hard time getting out of their driveways. Sun-Sentinel.

Turnaround school: A Flagler charter school says it will improve its D grade from the state by increasing instructional time and providing small-group instruction every day. Palm Harbor Academy presented its turnaround plan to the Flagler County School Board this week. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Accused aide out of a job: A Fort McCoy Middle School aide accused of engaging in sexual activity with a student is out of a job. Katie Carsey, 36, had not spoken to school officials since her release from jail, and they decided that she “abandoned” her job and has been replaced. Ocala Star-Banner.

Opinions on schools: The Martin County School Board has chosen to remain neutral in the fight against the new state education law for the moment. I don’t know if that can last. Gil Smart, TCPalm. The Sarasota County School Board rightly is going ahead with a March election to extend a school tax, despite complaints about the costs. Costs should be a consideration but not the prime factor in elections; they are a small price to pay for the exercise of democracy. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Student enrichment: The Caring and Sharing Learning School in Gainesville is named a blue ribbon school by the U.S. Department of Education. WUFT. Thousands of Florida students take part in the International Walk to School Day promoting an active lifestyle and pedestrian safety. WKMG. Northwest Florida Daily News. Citrus County Chronicle.