Florida schools roundup: Trump’s tour, budgets, lead in schools’ water and more

Trump at Tampa school: President Trump talks about workforce development during a roundtable discussion at Tampa Bay Technical High School on Tuesday. Trump said the just-signed Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act would give states the freedom to issue up to $1 billion in grants to help students in high school career and technical programs and at community colleges and technical schools. “Now more than 11 million students and workers will have greater access to better training and more jobs,” Trump said. “When we invest in our workers, we are investing in our people.” WFTS. WFLA. WTSP. Tampa Bay Times. Education Week. PBS. YouTube. Washington Post.

Budget decisions: Polk County School Board members approve a budget of $890 million, almost $63 million higher than last year’s. School officials attribute the hike to the additional 3,150 students it expects this year. Lakeland Ledger. The Sarasota County School Board approves an $828 million budget, about $40 million more than last year’s, but is cutting its reserves back to 7.68 percent, the lowest percentage since 2002. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The Broward County School Board approves a budget that includes $15 million in cuts in staffing and fuel costs. Sun-Sentinel. Northeast High School in Oakland Park will be renovated at a cost of $41.2 million, the Broward school board decides. When the project was approved in 2014, it was expected to cost $14.2 million. Sun-Sentinel. Pasco County School Board members are unhappy that the proposed budget does not include money for raises, and are challenging themselves and school officials to come up with ideas to find money for them. Gradebook.

Lead found in schools: Twenty-one of 50 Hillsborough County schools tested in the past year have lead in their water, according to district officials. Plumbing components that could have caused the contamination have been replaced. “We will continue testing the drinking water sources in our schools for lead until we have checked all 270 facilities in our district,” parents and staff have been told in an email from the district. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA.

Private meetings now open: Private Lee County School Board gatherings that were held after the public meetings will now be open to the public, say board members. The disclosure of the meetings, which had been ongoing for a year, drew complaints and concerns of Sunshine Law violations. Fort Myers News-Press.

Oral arguments urged: Lawyers for the group suing the state since 2009 over its education funding make a motion asking the Florida Supreme Court to accept oral arguments when the court considers the case. Jodi Siegel says in one motion that the case has accumulated 3,867 pages of record on appeal, 5,496 pages of trial transcript and 5,371 trial exhibits. “Petitioners submit that oral argument will assist the Court in understanding the immense record,” Siegel wrote. She represents Citizens for Strong Schools, which is asking the court to review two previous court rulings in favor of the state. The state argues that the group is raising political questions that are outside the jurisdiction of the courts. Gradebook.

School security: Some parents are trying to keep their children safe at school by outfitting them with bulletproof backpacks. WFTV.

Video, bullying effects: Violent video games and bullying lead to school shootings, Citrus County administrators, counselors and social workers are told during training sessions. The workshop was presented by Phil Chalmers, who describes himself as a “leading authority on juvenile homicide and juvenile mass murder.” Citrus County Chronicle.

Food delivery forbidden: The Pasco County School Board amends its food services policy to ban the delivery of food to students in schools without approval from a school administrator. “The high school principals have expressed displeasure, and the vendors themselves have called to say, ‘Please stop this from happening,’ ” says assistant superintendent Kevin Shibley. “The problem, is the driver shows up in the lobby of the office and wants to drop the food off with the secretary, who has to track down the kid who ordered.” Gradebook.

Health care contract: Bids for the Escambia County School District’s health care business are being reopened after an administrative law judge rules that the previous contract had been awarded in a “questionable” process that had the “appearance of impropriety.” The $1.9 million contract had been awarded to Aloa Health Care, whose bidder had previously worked with someone on the selection committee. Pensacola News Journal.

Case on referral closed: No charges will be filed against a Manatee County principal who recommended that the Sarasota County School District hire a teacher who was under investigation for sexual misconduct, the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office has concluded. Sarasota school board member Bridget Ziegler asked for an investigation into Lincoln Memorial Academy principal Eddie Hundley’s recommendation of teacher Quentin Peterson. Deputies says they “were unable to establish a crime had occurred within the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office’s jurisdiction” and closed the investigation. Bradenton Herald.

Notable deaths: Dr. Michael Krop, a Miami Beach orthodontist who was a Miami-Dade County School Board member from 1980 to 2004 and had a high school named after him, has died at the age of 88. Miami Herald.

New school: Ground is broken for the new Barbara A. Harvey Elementary School in Manatee County. The $28 million school, named for a longtime education leader, will hold up to 820 students when it opens in Parrish in August 2019. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School board elections: The Florida Division of Elections issues an opinion that a court will have to decide if Hernando County School Board candidate Jimmy Lodato is in violation of election laws by living outside his district. Lodato rents an RV campground site in the district, though his neighbors there say they haven’t seen much of him since he changed his address June 8, just before he qualified for the election. Tampa Bay Times.

Displaying a motto: Principals in Bay County are being given the responsibility of deciding how to conspicuously display the state motto, “In God We Trust,” in schools to conform to a new state law. Panama City News Herald.

App tracks school buses: A free app will allow parents and guardians of Lee County students to track the location of their school buses both going to school and coming home. The app will show the location of only the registered student’s bus and flash a message to users if the bus breaks down. Fort Myers News-Press. Volusia County school officials release their bus schedules. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Preparing for school: Tips for preparing your children for high school, for middle school and for her or his very first day of school. Miami Herald. Parents should break their children’s bad habits before schools resume. Miami Herald

Opinions on schools: I’ve been a militant advocate, organizer and member of the Democratic Party for 30 years. But I will no longer be part of a party that bashes school choice. Catherine Durkin Robinson, redefinED. Charter schools can strengthen their position and become a more prominent part of the education solution if they can improve their public image, work with districts to solve problems and embrace common-sense accountability. Lane Wright, Education Post. Charter schools aren’t the only reason Palm Beach and Broward counties will ask voters to tax themselves for schools. But charters have far more political clout than traditional public schools, which educate 10 times more students. Randy Schultz, Sun-Sentinel. Gainesville has a poverty rate more than twice the national average, yet some of its business owners can’t find enough workers to fill good-paying jobs. Removing barriers to career and technical training would help address that disconnect. Gainesville Sun. We know throwing money at education isn’t necessarily a fix. But starving it, as is the case in Florida, certainly heightens the problems. St. Augustine Record.

Student enrichment: Hundreds of needy Pasco County students are getting new clothes through the “Clothes 4 Kids” giveaway organized by Carol Davis, who works in the cafeteria at New River Elementary School in Zephyrhills. Tampa Bay Times.