More school reopening plans, budget cuts promise, racial issues, testing, grade flip, pensions and more

Reopening schools: Broward County schools will reopen Aug. 19, Superintendent Robert Runcie announced Tuesday. The method of instruction has yet to be determined, but he said a hybrid model of in-person and online learning with staggered days in schools seems to have the most support. He also said the school board would like at least half of students’ instruction to be in a classroom but, Runcie said, “We will always have the e-learning, distance learning as a continued option.” The district heard from about 80,000 people in its survey soliciting suggestions. Sun Sentinel. WPLG. WLRN. WSVN. Florida Politics. WFOR. Okaloosa County schools will reopen for student Aug. 11 with safety precautions, said Superintendent Marcus Chambers. Students will be given the option of online-only learning, and must declare their choices sometime next month. Northwest Florida Daily News. Sarasota County School Board members made no decisions, but are leaning to a full reopening with strict protocols and an option for students to attend Florida Virtual School. The district will launch a survey of parents starting on June 26, and the school board will use the results to help make a final decision July 14. WWSB. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WTVT. Florida International University trustees approve a reopening plan that calls for use of masks indoors, social distancing and a combination of in-person and online learning. WFOR. Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees said the Florida Department of Health’s plan for reopening schools safely includes the creation of isolation areas in schools for sick students, having contact tracers identify homes with sick parents and forming response teams to identify students exposed to the coronavirus and arrange testing. Sun Sentinel.

Budget cuts coming: Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that he’ll cut enough from the state’s proposed $93.2 billion budget to make up for the losses in tax revenue due to the coronavirus and avoid the need for a legislative special session. “There’s going to be a lot more vetoes, there’ll be a lot of red. It’s kind of the veto equivalent of the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones,” he said. But raising teacher salaries remains a priority for him. “Teacher raises are important,” he said. “I said I’m going to veto some things in my budget, I’m not going to veto everything in my budget. We want to obviously try to deliver as many of the priorities as we can.” The Legislature included $500 million in the budget for raises. The new budget year starts July 1. News Service of Florida. Florida Politics. USA Today Network. WFSU.

Race issues in schools: Duval County School Board members have unanimously agreed to begin the process of changing the names of schools that honor Confederate soldiers and icons: Robert E. Lee High, J.E.B Stuart Middle, Stonewall Jackson Elementary, Joseph Finegan Elementary, Kirby-Smith Middle and Jefferson Davis Middle. “We have come to a place and time in the history of our city, that we must begin the process of renaming all the schools named for a Confederate soldier. This effort can help to heal a city that is fractured,” said board chair Warren Jones. Florida Times-Union. WJXT. WTLV. WJAX. Florida Politics. The Alachua County School Board votes to rename J.J. Finley Elementary School. Finley was a Civil War general. A renaming committee has a deadline of July 27 to make a recommendation. WCJB. Gainesville Sun. Students at elite high schools in Duval County have started Instagram accounts to discuss racism and give black students opportunities to speak about their experiences anonymously. “I believe that the anonymity of the outlet allows for black students to share their experiences without fear of judgement,” wrote one moderator. Florida Times-Union.

Testing dilemma: Many Florida students say the extra month the state gave them to complete an SAT test doesn’t help them because no testing is scheduled until Aug. 29, and the Bright Futures Scholarships application deadline is that same day. The other test that can be used to qualify for scholarships, the ACT, will be administered this month and next. But many students have focused on the SAT because they have done better on it and studied exclusively for it. Those students have lobbied the state to extend the deadline to qualify for Bright Futures so they can use their SAT score, but DOE officials said they can’t make that decision unilaterally. Gradebook.

The grade that wasn’t: In April, the state Department of Education informed the Miami-Dade County School District that the incomplete school grades Frederick R. Douglass Elementary School received the past two years had been changed to a C in 2018 and an F in 2019. No Miami-Dade school had received an F grade for three years, and it spurred a quick appeal to the state from Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. By mid-May, the DOE changed both grades back to incomplete and gave the district 60 days to conduct an investigation for “testing administration practices” at the school. DOE officials said the investigation could change the school’s final grades. School grades help determine funding the school and bonuses for its teachers. Miami Herald.

Pension payment: School superintendents in Florida’s seven largest districts are asking Gov. DeSantis to veto a bill that would require school districts to pay nearly $233 million in required pension contributions. “An increase this large would be difficult at any time, but what makes it especially untenable now is the unprecedented financial uncertainty of our state, our nation, and the world,” the superintendents wrote in the June 9 letter. They’re asking that the increases be phased in or that the state provide more money to cut what districts have to pay. Politico Florida.

Bathroom rights next? LGBTQ Americans got job protection from the U.S. Supreme Court this week, and in the ruling the majority of six judges expressed a willingness to take on a case that could determine the rights of transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice, which has been an issue in Florida and other states. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority that the court didn’t aim to address bathrooms, locker rooms “or anything else of the kind,” saying, “[W]e have not had the benefit of adversarial testing about the meaning of their terms, and we do not prejudge any such question today.” Education Dive.

More on the coronavirus: U.S. House Democrats are calling for more funding to help school districts reopen in the fall. “Unless the federal government provides immediate relief, it won’t be a matter of whether education funding will be cut, but how deep the cuts will be,” said U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia. Florida Phoenix. More than half of teenage students recently surveyed by the Center for Promise said the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent closing of schools has left them “more concerned than usual” about their health, and 40 percent said they got little or no help from adults in coping. Florida Phoenix. Volusia County school officials said they’re exploring options to enhance graduation ceremonies scheduled at the Ocean Center. Parents have complained about the scarcity of seating. WKMG. Marion County School Board member Nancy Stacy said she won’t attend graduations as a way of protesting the district’s decision to allow only two family members of graduates to attend instead of four. Ocala Star-Banner. The Redlands Christian Migrant Association Academy, a charter school in Wimauma in Hillsborough County, has used hula hoops to mark personal space for students as part of its safety precautions. Tampa Bay Times. The Bay County School District is partnering with Mercy Chefs to offer free food to struggling families to pick up at county schools. WMBB.

School consolidation: A plan to consolidate schools for the coming academic year and 2021-2022 was approved Tuesday by the Duval County School Board. The moves are: Merging John Love Elementary into Long Branch Elementary; combining Brentwood Elementary with North Shore Elementary; St. Clair Evans Academy with a new school named Northwestern Elementary; and in the 2021-2022 school year, merge Carter G. Woodson Elementary students into Northwestern. WJXT.

Education podcasts: African People’s Socialist Party leaders Omali Yeshitela and Chimurenga Waller talk with Step Up For Students president Doug Tuthill about education and self-determination as the bedrocks for achieving sovereignty for African people. Step Up For Students hosts this blog. redefinED.

Personnel moves: Melissa Baird, who attended Inverness Middle School in the late 1980s, has been named the school’s principal. She had been working as the assistant principal at Crystal River High School. Citrus County Chronicle. Three assistant principals have been promoted to principals’ positions in Leon County: at Canopy Oaks Elementary, current assistant principal Staci Mortham moves up; at Hawks Rise Elementary, assistant principal Beth Jackson will take over; and at Raa Middle, the new principal is Marcus Scott, who had been an assistant at Deerlake Middle. Tallahassee Democrat.

Preschool finds a home: The city of Lakeland has approved the use of a residential house for a new Montessori-style preschool. “After close to a year of looking for properties and working with city staff, we are overjoyed to have a location approved,” Thomas Brawner said. He and his wife Madison will renovate the house to accommodate about 100 students. No opening date has been set. Lakeland Ledger.

Opinions on schools: The Palm Beach County School Board should hit the pause button on Superintendent Donald Fennoy’s proposed top management plan for its bad timing and bad form. Palm Beach Post. Good riddance to the Orange County School District school dress code that objectifies young girls. Melissa Byrd, Orlando Sentinel. Changes in methods of instruction because of the coronavirus could open the way for using substitute teachers to supplement regular teachers. Keith Bromery, Sun Sentinel. Most school leaders have come to the conclusion they must prepare for in-person, hybrid and online learning scenarios. Instead of guessing at which of the three could occur, why not empower students/parents and teachers to choose the method of delivery which best fits their own realities? Bruce Hermie, redefinED.

Student enrichment: Seven high school student-led charity programs received more than $89,000 in funding after pitching their projects in the Palm Beach County Philanthropy Tank. Palm Beach Post.