Spending on education, scholarship, test fees and more

Education spending: Senate Republicans are proposing to boost Florida’s K-12 education spending by $1.1 billion, an increase of $350 per student, for a total of $22.2 billion. That’s 5 percent higher than last year’s spending, and $500 million more than Gov. Ron DeSantis has asked for. Among the items in the bill, which cleared the Senate Education Appropriations Committee: $233 million for bonuses for teachers and principals, $68 million for districts to hire security officers for all schools, $50 million in school hardening grants, $2 million for Jewish day school security, $46 million for struggling schools, $31 million for youth mental health issues and $14.2 million for schools that lost enrollment because of Hurricane Michael. The House has yet to release its education budget proposal. Associated Press. News Service of FloridaFlorida Politics. WFSU.

Scholarship bill: A Senate subcommittee approves the session’s big education bill, S.B. 7070, which would create a state scholarship to eliminate the list of more than 13,000 students waiting to be approved for for Florida Tax Credit Scholarships (FTC). The Family Empowerment Scholarship would be funded through tax dollars and allow about 15,000 low-income students to attend private schools. The House Education has already passed its version of the bill, which would make the new scholarship available for about 28,000 students and also sets a higher income limit for eligibility. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the FTC. redefinEDFlorida PoliticsNews Service of Florida. Associated Press.

Teacher certification tests: The Florida Board of Education votes to reduce the costs for the certification exam that teachers must pass to get or retain their licenses. Retaking one of the four general knowledge tests will cost $32.50, down from $150. Other fees also will be lowered, and legislators are considering eliminating some of the tests. BOE officials also expect to clear the backlog of teacher certification and recertification applications by May 31. Gradebook. WPTV. WTXL. Florida Phoenix.

State’s top principals: Michelle Kefford, principal at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Broward County, is named the state’s principal of the year by the Florida Department of Education. Bernadette Pletcher, of Tillman Elementary School in Manatee County, is chosen as the state’s assistant principal of the year. Florida Department of Education. Sun Sentinel. WPLGBradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Academic standards: The Florida Department of Education hopes to release its recommended changes to the state’s academic standards this fall to give the public time to comment before they go to the Legislature early next year. DOE officials told the state Board of Education Tuesday that the current accountability standards, which are based on the federal Common Core, will stay in place for at least another year. GradebookChanging the academic standards is just one of the many education initiatives being considered in Florida. The 74.

Human trafficking: A House education subcommittee approves a bill that would teach students in Florida’s public schools how to recognize signs of human trafficking. The information would be added to existing health courses. It’s sponsored by Rep. Patricia Williams, D-Fort Lauderdale. Associated Press. Florida Politics.

Teaching climate change: Floridians support the teaching of climate change in public schools, according to a new poll from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. More than 65 percent strongly or somewhat agreed that “climate change should be taught as accepted theory in public primary and secondary schools,” compared with 25.4 percent who disagreed. National Center for Science Education.

Advanced Placement: Several Pasco County high schools are in danger of losing Advanced Placement classes because of low enrollment. Pasco High School has already said it’s planning to cut its calculus course for 2019-2020, and district officials say enrollment in advanced classes at Anclote, Cypress Creek, Sunlake, Wiregrass Ranch and Hudson high schools is below the numbers needed to fill a class. Gradebook.

Going farm to school: A farm-to-table project in the Hernando County School District, financed with a $40,000 federal grant, hasn’t taken root as quickly as district officials would have liked. Unpredictable weather, bureaucracy and matching the needs of farmers and the district have made it harder than expected to get produce from the farmers to plates in the cafeterias. “It’s more complex than anyone could ever imagine,” says Lori Drenth, the district’s director of food and nutritional services. Tampa Bay Times.

Summer program endangered: A summer learning program that’s helped students in Riviera Beach for 30 years is in danger of closing because of financial issues. The nonprofit Inner City Youth “Getting There” has provided certified teachers to help disadvantaged students avoid the “summer slide.” Palm Beach Post.

New school buses: The Lake County School District buys 27 new school buses for about $2.9 million to replace older vehicles in its fleet. Twenty-four of the buses are standard, and three are outfitted to transport special-needs students. Daily Commercial.

Dispute over medicine: A 9-year-old student with a rare form of epilepsy is being kept out of school because Broward County school officials say they can’t administer the medicine she needs. Jillianna Geller has Dravet syndrome, and when a seizure starts she needs a dose of Diastat. Occasionally a second dose is required. Broward school officials won’t allow the school nurse to administer a second dose. The family has filed a complaint with the Department of Education, which will consider it next month. WSVN.

Vaping use up: The number of Hernando County students disciplined for vaping-related incidents is up 128 percent over last year, says Jill Kolasa, the school district’s supervisor of student services. Tampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools: Republicans want to turbocharge the privatization of Florida’s public schools. They ignore questions, contrary evidence and conflicts of interest. This isn’t a plan to make education better. It’s a plan to make it profitable. Randy Schultz, Sun Sentinel. The correlation between education spending and outcomes isn’t as strong as many people believe. And it’s downright Twilight Zone to suggest that private school scholarships are part of the “budgetary bleeding of public schools.” Ron Matus, Florida Politics. The Citrus County School Board needs to stay focused on the education of our children instead of taking on oversight of the Citrus County Hospital Board. Citrus County Chronicle. Florida lawmakers shouldn’t undermine the lottery’s contribution to education funding without a plan to replace it. Sarah Rumpf, The Capitolist.

Student enrichment: Emily Perez, a 16-year-old sophomore at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, schools Gov. Ron DeSantis in computer coding at an event promoting computer skills. Associated Press. WFSU.