Creating charters: Erika Donalds, a member of the Collier County School Board and the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, has already proposed constitutional amendments that would eliminate pay for school board members and impose term limits on them, end the election of school superintendents and allow legislators to “make provision” for educational services in addition to the free public schools. Now she’s proposing an amendment that would allow legislators to create “alternative processes to authorize the establishment of charter schools within the state.” If the amendment is approved by the 37-member commission, it would need the support of 60 percent of voters to go into effect. Gradebook. Donalds may have gotten some inspiration on the proposal of no salaries for school board members from Eric Robinson, who is on the Sarasota school board and thinks taking a salary is a conflict of interest. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Regulatory relief: State Rep. Mike Bileca, R-Miami, says he is interested in finding more state regulations that can be removed from top-performing public schools through the Schools of Excellence program. The program, which was authorized through the state’s new education law, H.B. 7069, provides greater flexibility and autonomy to the principals of the highest-performing 20 percent of schools at each level. redefinED.
Recycling success: Two years ago, 2nd-graders at Old Kings Elementary School in Flagler Beach began a recycling campaign for plastic and later boycotted disposable plastic lunch trays. That interest in the environment blossomed, and led to every school in the district using trays made of recycled paperboard, which will remove 1.4 million plastic trays from county landfills and save the district $14,000 a year. Flagler Live. Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Displaced teachers: Florida education officials say they’d like to hire teachers who were displaced when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in late September. The state is waiving the application fee for a teaching certificate and will accept unofficial transcripts. But there are still several hurdles Puerto Rican teachers must clear before getting a job in a Florida classroom. Many will have to pass expensive tests. And others are finding that their certifications don’t align with the Florida requirements. In Puerto Rico, elementary teachers are certified in K-3rd and 4th-6th grades. In Florida, it’s either pre-K through 3rd or all elementary grades. State officials say they have no plans to adjust certification requirements or waive test fees. Governing.
CPR requirement: This month the Brevard County School Board is expected to approve a requirement for every high school student to complete CPR training in order to graduate. The requirement would go into effect for the 2018-2019 school year, and CPR would be taught to students in physical education classes. Brevard will join the Miami-Dade, Clay, Duval, Hillsborough, Nassau, Palm Beach, Pasco and Pinellas school districts in making CPR a requirement for graduation. Florida Today.
Educators honored: Thirty-three nominees are being considered for the Santa Rosa County School District’s teacher of the year award. The winner will be announced Jan. 24. Pensacola News Journal.
Charter proposal: A charter school is proposed in Hernando County that would serve the “academically advanced.” The Chehuntamo Advanced Performance High School is proposed by a group of educators who were fired or forced out of their previous jobs. The chairman of the school is Michael Maynard, who was fired from the Pasco County system after questionable behavior that included belittling students and directing profane remarks at them. The Hernando County School District staff is recommending the charter application be approved. Tampa Bay Times.
School construction: The Manatee County School District will break ground next week for a new $90 million high school in Parrish. North River High School, located in the northeast part of the county, is scheduled to open in August 2019 with 2,000 to 2,400 students. Bradenton Herald. A two-story, 20-classroom building is being added at Lehigh Senior High School in Lee County. Other construction projects at the school include an updated cafeteria and a space for outdoor dining. The projects are scheduled for completion by Dec. 9, 2018. Fort Myers News-Press.
Choice enrollment: The school choice enrollment period for Palm Beach County students began Wednesday and continues through Jan. 26. Nine more schools have been added to choice enrollment this year. Schools that require auditions for admission require applications by Dec. 1. Sun-Sentinel.
Free school movement: Tallahassee’s Grassroots Free School helped inspire the free school movement in Japan. The idea behind a free school is giving students the power to decide rules, what they learn and even how the school is run. Japan now has more than 1,000 free schools. The Tallahassee school, founded in 1972 by Pat Seery, has 25 students between the ages of 5 and 14. Tallahassee Democrat.
Superintendent sued: A former football coach at North Bay Haven Charter Academy is suing Bay County School Superintendent Bill Husfelt, alleging wrongful termination. Jared Hale says he was fired after his parents supported Husfelt’s opponent in the 2012 election. Hale’s parents are James and Julie, who recently settled a lawsuit against the district for $350,000 after they were fired as head football coach and athletic director, respectively, at Arnold High School. Panama City News Herald.
Employee arrested: A transportation manager for the Pasco County School District is arrested and accused of distributing and possessing child pornography. William Napolitano, 34, who managed daily operations of school buses, has been placed on administrative leave. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA. WTSP.
Students arrested: A student at Jeaga Middle School in West Palm Beach is arrested after a gun and ammunition clip were found on campus. Police didn’t say how they connected the gun to the student. Palm Beach Post. A 15-year-old Riverview High School student is arrested after posting a photo of himself with a weapon on Snapchat that included the words “School gunna be lit tomorrow.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Bradenton Herald.
Student killed: A 17-year-old Ponte Vedra High School student is killed when his skateboard is hit by a van. Police say Hunter Dudley veered into traffic on U.S. 1 at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday when he was hit. WJAX.
School bus accidents: A motorcyclist is killed when he runs into a school bus in Greenacres. The four children on the bus and the driver were not injured. Palm Beach Post. Several students say they were injured when an Okaloosa County school bus was involved in an accident in Destin. Northwest Florida Daily News.
Opinions on schools: If legislators really believe in accountability for public spending, they’ll act on abuses in Florida’s three school scholarship programs that give public money to children to attend private schools that get little or no state regulation. Orlando Sentinel. Instead of abdicating their responsibility — and chasing students away from public schools with a preposterously clunky accountability system — our leaders in Tallahassee should be figuring out how to make public schools work better for children in low-income neighborhoods. John Romano, Tampa Bay Times. This problem of abstinence-centered sex education and just general bad teaching of sex ed is an issue that needs to be addressed more thoroughly and changed with a more direct approach. Jupiter Jones, Gainesville Sun. Florida is doing fine in the “A” portion of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and math). The rest of it? Not so much. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.
Student enrichment: Five Alachua County school bands receive high ratings at the Florida Bandmasters Association Marching Music Performance Assessment. Gainesville Sun. Naples High School senior class president Caitlin Crowley posts a photo of her kissing her girlfriend on Twitter, creating a viral sensation. Crowley says she didn’t expect to get much of a reaction, but that the response has been “unbelievable and unexpected, but completely heartwarming and humbling. It reminds you that you’re not alone.” Naples Daily News. Lake Asbury Junior High School students are advised by an online communications expert to post only “awesome” things online. The talk was a part of the Clay County School District’s program to combat bullying. Clay Today.