Florida schools roundup: New ESSA plan, report cards going digital and more

Revised ESSA plan: The Florida Department of Education submits its revised plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The state is asking the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver to limit state testing to either math or science every year for middle school students, instead of both, and wants to offer state tests in a language other than English only when 5 percent or more of middle school students speaks that language. In Florida, the plan says, that would be only Spanish. The state also wants to change the way it deals with migrant and homeless children, how it handles out-of-field teachers, and details how it will use demographic subgroups to determine what schools need additional attention. Gradebook. Politico Florida.

Digital report cards: Report cards for Lake County School District students will no longer be mailed to homes, school officials say. Instead, parents and students will have to look up grades online through the already-in-place Skyward Family Access portal. The switch is expected to save the district $35,000 a year. Parents can still get a paper copy by going to their child’s school and asking for one to be printed. Orlando Sentinel. Daily Commercial.

School security: A 16-member commission reviewing the Parkland school shooting meets for the first time today in Coconut Creek. The panel will look into law enforcement’s response and confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz’s background, and make recommendations to prevent future attacks. News Service of Florida. Miami Herald. Manatee County is unlikely to contribute to pay for armed security at the county’s schools, county officials are telling the school board. The county has split the costs in the past. School board member Charlie Kennedy says he hopes the county’s decision is negotiable. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Clay County School Board members want to put a resource officer in every school, which will cost $5 million, and are asking the county for more financial help. Clay Sheriff Darryl Daniels is frustrated by the delays in making a decision, and warns that time is running out to hire and train officers for schools. WJAX. Polk County School Board members are expected to vote today on a plan to hire at least 85 armed safety officers for county schools. WFLA. The first of three town hall meetings about using the school marshal program in Brevard County schools is tonight. The school board says putting a resource officer in every school is too expensive, and wants to consider arming school personnel even though Superintendent Desmond Blackburn and Sheriff Wayne Ivey are recommending against it. Florida Today. At least 31 students have been killed and 53 wounded in school shootings this year in the United States. The 74.

Teacher firings: The Hernando County teachers union is threatening legal action if the school district doesn’t reverse the decision to fire all 47 teachers at Moton Elementary School. Cease-and-desist and grievance letters sent to the district allege that Superintendent Lori Romano violated the union’s contract with the school board by firing teachers who had been rated highly effective or effective. Tampa Bay Times.

Contract negotiations: Hillsborough County school officials tell a special magistrate they can’t afford to honor their five-year-old promise of pay raises for teachers. The district has construction issues, limited state funding and needs to build reserves to keep its credit rating, those officials said at a hearing Monday. Union officials say the pay plan was negotiated in good faith, that teachers gave up benefits for it, and that the district has the money to pay them what they were promised. The magistrate will make a recommendation, which is nonbinding. Tampa Bay Times.

District’s finances: Duval County School Board members begin making tentative decisions about how to cut $62 million out of next year’s budget. Reserves will be allowed to fall to 4 percent, and fewer reading coaches and academic specialists will be available for schools. Many music, art and physical education teachers and assistant principals will be shared by smaller schools. Extracurricular activities will be trimmed, and middle schools will go back to the seven-period day. Florida Times-Union.

Superintendent semifinalists: Six semifinalists are chosen by the school board for the job of superintendent of the Duval County School District. Interviews will be held May 11 and 12 with Sito Narcisse, chief of schools for the Metro Nashville Public Schools; Erick Pruitt, an area superintendent of the Houston Independent Schools; Diana Greene, superintendent of the Manatee County School District; Harrison Peters, chief of schools for the Hillsborough County School District; Michael Dunsmore, superintendent of the Wayne County Public Schools in North Carolina; and Frederick Heid, former chief academic officer in Duval until 2014 and now superintendent of District 300 in Algonquin, Ill. Florida Times-Union. Bradenton Herald.

Teacher raises: More than three-quarters of Americans think teachers should be paid more, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. Half of those surveyed say they’d be willing to pay more taxes to boost salaries. In 2016-2017, the average salary for a public school teacher was $58,950, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That was down slightly from the previous year. Associated Press.

School closing recommendation: Bay County School Superintendent Bill Husfelt is recommending that Oscar Patterson Elementary School be closed if it doesn’t receive a grade of C or higher from the state this year. Patterson is in a state-required turnaround program, and if it doesn’t improve on its F grades of the past two years the district can close the school, turn it into a charter school or turn it over to an outside operator. Panama City News Herald.

School rebuilding plan: Addison Mizner Elementary School will be torn down and then rebuilt at the same site, according to Palm Beach County School Board member Frank Barbieri. Students would attend classes in a new school next to Don Estridge High Tech Middle School during construction. The new Addison Mizner is projected to open in August 2022. Palm Beach PostSun-Sentinel.

Charter applications: The Volusia County School Board will consider the application of a charter school that Superintendent Tom Russell has recommended be denied. The Southeast Volusia School of Science and Technology would be open for grades 6-12 for the 2019-20 school year. Daytona Beach News-Journal. The Leon County School Board is expected to decide today whether to approve applications of two charter schools. Superintendent Rocky Hanna has recommended they be denied. Tallahassee Democrat. WFSU.

School board elections: Duval County School Board member Scott Shine says he isn’t running for re-election. Florida Times-Union.

Rezoning challenge: A parent files an administrative challenge to the Pasco County School District’s proposed rezoning plan for schools in the west part of the county. Jim Stanley is asking a state’s Division of Administrative Hearings judge to stop the school board from implementing Superintendent Kurt Browning’s plan because the criteria used in the process is vague, isn’t followed and won’t accomplish the goal of easing overcrowding at some schools. Gradebook.

Promposal investigation: A Sarasota County student who made a racist promposal on Snapchat may be disciplined by the Sarasota County School District. Noah Crowley, an 18-year-old student at Riverview High School, was photographed holding a sign reading: “If I was black, I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white, so I’m picking u 4 prom.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Charter funding appeal: An appellate court sets June 5 to hear an appeal of the state’s rules for determining charter schools’ eligibility for public construction funding. The Florida Association of Independent Charter Schools and two Miami-Dade schools are challenging the rule that uses school grades to decide if charters should receive funding. Politico Florida.

Employees, volunteer honored: Five are chosen as finalists for the 2018 Florida school-related employee of the year. They are: Sylvester Jones, in-school suspension coordinator at Rutherford High School in Bay County; Jermaine Green, paraprofessional at Jose de Diego Middle School in Miami-Dade County; Stephanie Melton, an exceptional student education behavioral health assistant at W.E. Cherry Elementary School in Clay County; Debra Canning, the 21st Century iClass liaison for Pinellas County schools; and Sarah Woods, food and nutrition kitchen manager at Gulf Gate Elementary School in Sarasota County. The winner will be announced May 16. Florida Department of Education. Stephanie Kolb, a volunteer at both Kanapaha Middle School and Gainesville High School, is chosen by the state as the top adult volunteer in Region 2, which covers North Florida and North Central Florida. Gainesville Sun.

Students arrested: Three 14-year-old students are arrested and charged with vandalizing Heritage Middle School in Deltona. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Opinions on schools: Public education and school choice are not mutually exclusive. Raymond Keen, Gainesville Sun.

Student enrichment: Thirty-four Florida students receive National Merit Scholarship awards. Florida Department of Education. First-graders in Chimane Rabideau’s class at the Palm Beach Public School raise more than $800 to buy a water pump and a solar panel for a small African village in Benin. Palm Beach Post.