Schools out of security compliance, armed teachers’ risks, reserves, choice and more

Security in schools: At least 10 Florida school districts are not in compliance with state laws on security, members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission said in Wednesday’s meeting. Among the issues: About 190 schools do not have officers or an armed staffer, some don’t do active-shooter drills, and some don’t lock their doors at all times. Panel member Grady Judd, sheriff in Polk County, called that unacceptable and said: “Let’s name them. Let’s name names and name people, name districts of who doesn’t care enough to protect their children. That gives them all summer before school is back in to correct the deficiency.” Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran says districts have until Aug. 1 to come into compliance or be named publicly. Sun Sentinel. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. WPBF. Broward County police and fire chiefs have voted to change the responsibility to maintain the emergency radio communications from Broward County to the sheriff’s office. The county has still not fixed the problems that plagued emergency responders during the Parkland school shooting in 2018. Sun Sentinel.

Armed teachers’ liability: The arrest of a school deputy for failing to intervene with an armed gunman at a Florida school in 2018 has teachers willing to be armed wondering if they’re also at risk of being arrested if they don’t do enough to protect students during an attack. The legislative sponsor of this year’s bill that gives districts the option to arm teachers says yes. “Whether it’s involving a firearm or not, if there’s an employee who did not do everything in their power to protect students in that situation they would be open up to facing those kinds of charges,” said Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah. Tampa Bay Times. The Gulf County School Board votes to join the state’s guardian program, which gives districts the option to allow teachers and other staff to carry concealed weapons in schools. It’s the 31st district out of 67 in the state to adopt the program. Port St. Joe Star.

Reserve minimum changed: In a 3-2 vote, the Sarasota County School Board decides to drop the 7.5 percent minimum amount required to be held in reserves. The state requirement is 3 percent. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Superintendent on choice: Miami-Dade school Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, speaking in a taped address to the American Federation for Children conference, says the district confronted the movement toward school choice by embracing it. “We recognized that choice was powerful to every single community, every single family, every single child,” he said. “This is no longer a privilege. This is a right every single child in America must have.” redefinED.

Contract negotiations: The Putnam County School Board approves a contract that will give employees a 1 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2018, and a 2 percent raises that starts July 1. The decision will cost the district about $2.6 million a year. WJAX. The Pasco County School District is targeting 3 percent raises for teachers as negotiations with the union get underway this week. Teachers got a 2 percent raise in negotiations that concluded in April, and both sides agree a higher bump is needed for the next school year. Gradebook.

School calendar: A Palm Beach County school committee has been asked to again look into options for school start dates in 2020 and 2021. The committee already investigated and recommended Aug. 10 for both years, but parents complained that was too early, and board members are now asking for more options with a later start. Palm Beach Post. Sun Sentinel.

New high school design: Architects showed off the design for a new high school to the Collier County School Board this week. It’ll be a single-point-of-entry, multistory building of 300,000 square feet for up to 2,000 students. The design is meant to maximize security and minimize its environmental impact. The cost will be about $94 million, including $5 million for the architect, and the school is planned to open in the fall of 2023 in north Naples. Naples Daily News.

School move postponed: The city of Coral Springs has decided against moving the Coral Springs Charter School out of the downtown area, at least for now, because of “market conditions and construction costs.” The city has long wanted to move the school out of downtown and locate on a larger property. Sun Sentinel.

New substitute service: Duval County School Board members vote to hire a new company to provide substitute teachers, and approved a contract with ESS. The district had used Kelly Services since 2014. ESS is charging $84 a day — $8.44 less than Kelly charged. Florida Times-Union.

Mental health issues: Safety and student behavior are the topics at the annual Superintendent Summit for Bay County School District administrators and support staff. Author and education Ruby Payne said educators are trained to teach, not deal with students’ emotional issues, and that can lead to unnecessary disciplining. “All emotional well-being is based on two things — safety and belonging,” said Payne. “And the hurricane kind of disrupted both. There are a lot of strategies you can provide to help students and adults deal with emotional issues.” Panama City News Herald.

Personnel moves: The Osceola County School Board approves nine principals, assistant principals and other administrators. Positively Osceola. Kevin Kastner is named principal at West Tampa Elementary School in Hillsborough County, and Steven Sims is the new principal at FishHawk Creek Elementary. Gradebook. Three new principals are appointed at Clay County schools: Becky Murphy at Ridgeview High, Mallory McConnell at  Lake Asbury Junior High and Ivan Gunder at Lakeside Junior High. Florida Times-Union. WJXT.

Reading scores: Fifty-three percent of the Gulf County School District’s 3rd-graders scored at grade level or higher in the Florida Standards Assessments language arts tests. That’s 7 percentage points higher than last year. The state average was 58 percent reading at grade level or above. Port St. Joe Star.

District sued: The family of a student who was slammed to the ground in 2015 by a school resource officer at Kissimmee Middle School is suing the Osceola County School Board. The officer was arrested and fired, and was sentenced to a year of probation. Orlando Sentinel.

Employees charged: A Lee County teacher is arrested and accused of not reporting sexual abuse crimes against a child. Investigators say Stacey Gridley, a teacher at Varsity Lakes Middle School in Lehigh Acres, did not report that her husband Matthew had been arrested on charges of child porn, molestation and sexual battery. WINK. The dean of students at Ridge Community High School in Haines City is being charged with failure to report abuse. Police say Kevin Sanford, 38, did not promptly report a criminal sexual conduct complaint involving two students on May 28. Lakeland Ledger. WFLA.

Opinions on schools: Renaissance Charter school’s issues with using non-certified classroom teachers is but a symptom of a larger problem in the “school choice” movement with regard to a lack of accountability with taxpayer dollars. It is up to local school districts and parents to make sure that all of our students are not being shortchanged. Palm Beach Post. Why wouldn’t the Hillsborough County School Board broadcast its workshop meetings? Sue Carlton, Tampa Bay Times. In their zeal to protect Jacksonville politicians and their agendas, City Hall lawyers have undermined a core right guaranteed to every Floridian by the state constitution: Access to a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools.” Nate Monroe, Florida Times-Union.

Student enrichment: Alanis Sophia Sanchez, a graduating senior at the Pasco eSchool who is also a songwriter and recording artist who recently signed with the studio that produces Taylor Swift, honors her teachers at graduation with a performance of her new country-pop song, Goodbye High School. Tampa Bay Times. Students from the i3 Academy in Palm Coast create a trivia game app as an enhancement for visitors to Marineland Dolphin Adventure. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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BY NextSteps staff