School employment: The employment rate for U.S. state and local public school employees is down 8.8 percent over last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but in Florida it’s fallen 13.1 percent, according to the latest U.S. Department of Labor estimates. About 46,900 people have dropped off the payrolls in local school districts in Florida this year. A significant number of the job losses may be temporary until students return to classrooms. Higher education has also been hit hard, with a decline in jobs of 13.7 percent nationally from the pre-pandemic totals in February. Pew Charitable Trusts.
FLVS growth: Enrollment and revenues at the Florida Virtual School are booming, members of the board were told Tuesday. Enrollment is up 27 percent and the number of courses taken has nearly has tripled, said Kimberly Poling, the school’s executive director of financial and treasury services. The “unusual growth” within the state and elsewhere, triggered by the coronavirus, could boost revenue by about $39 million over previous estimates. Politico Florida.
Around the state: Tropical Storm Eta moved closer to Florida’s west coast and could have an impact on some school districts in the Tampa Bay area and north on Thursday, the Palm Beach County principal who was fired after commenting that he couldn’t say whether the Holocaust was a factual event and then rehired has been fired again, two districts extend face mask requirements in schools, a Jacksonville school will be closed in December, a surge in coronavirus cases is threatening school sports and extracurricular activities in Pasco County, and Alachua County’s superintendent is stepping down next summer. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts and private schools, and colleges and universities:
Miami-Dade, Broward: Twenty-three Broward County schools and 17 in Miami-Dade remained closed Tuesday because of flooding from Tropical Storm Eta. Seven of the Broward schools were also without power, according to district officials, who couldn’t say if the problems will be fixed this week. Schools in both counties are closed today for Veterans Day. Miami Herald. Sun Sentinel. WFOR. WPLG. WSVN.
Palm Beach: William Latson, a high school principal who was fired after creating an uproar when he said he couldn’t say if the Holocaust was a factual event, then rehired after an administrative law judge said the offense didn’t merit termination, was fired again Tuesday by the school board. The vote was unanimous. “Contrary to the (judge’s) conclusions, Dr. Latson did commit misconduct in office, incompetency, and gross insubordination, providing just cause for his suspension and termination,” the final order of the board stated. Latson, who was the principal at Spanish River High School, is expected to appeal in state court. Palm Beach Post. Sun Sentinel. WPTV.
Duval: Carter G. Woodson Elementary School in Jacksonville will be closed when the next semester begins in January, the school board decided this week. Woodson students and those from another closed school, St. Clair Evans Elementary, will be moved to the Northwestern Middle School building. Attendance at Woodson has dwindled from 500 in 2016 to 278 this year, and its academic performance has long been in decline. The school will be torn down as part of the district’s master plan. Florida Times-Union. Two district employees were arrested last weekend and have been removed from having any contact with students. Demetrius Williams, a paraprofessional at First Coast High School, was accused of child abuse. No details were given in the arrest of Pierre Jean Louis, a physical education teacher at several elementary schools. WJXT.
Pinellas: School board members have extended the district’s requirement that face masks be worn by students and employees and visitors in schools, but agreed to review the policy every three months. The vote was 4-1, and came after hours of public comment. One woman who was in a group protesting the mask mandate was stopped by school officers for not wearing a mask as she tried to leave the board room, then arrested and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, trespassing and disorderly conduct. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA. WTSP. WTVT. WFTS.
Pasco: If the number of coronavirus cases keeps rising, school sports and extracurricular activities could be canceled, Superintendent Kurt Browning warned in a video to parents. “If the infection rate locally continues on an upward trend, and if we continue to see an increase in cases in our schools, we will have to seriously consider curtailing or eliminating such activities,” he said. “These are times we kind of relax. There is this sense that everything is back to normal. But I will tell you it’s not normal.” The county’s rate of positive tests has increased to about 7.5 percent after a period of falling below 5 percent. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA. WFTS.
Brevard: School officials have reported 605 coronavirus cases since schools reopened Aug. 24. The number of students and employees placed into quarantine stands at 4,751. Last week the district counted just 11 cases and 53 quarantines, the second-fewest since the district’s coronavirus dashboard was first published in early September. Florida Today.
Seminole: About two-thirds of parents whose children are taking classes remotely prefer to keep that option during the second semester, according to a school district survey. More than 30,000 students are enrolled in one of the district’s virtual learning options, which is slightly more than half of the district’s enrollment. Most of the them use Seminole Connect, in which they follow a regular class schedule in real time with their classmates. Whether that option will be offered the second semester depends on how much per-student the state is willing to pay the district. Th state’s decision is expected within the next two weeks. Orlando Sentinel. Ishika Nag, a sophomore at Oviedo High School, is one of just 23 U.S. students and the only one in Florida to be named an Engineer Girl Ambassador for 2020 by the National Academy of Engineers and Society of Women Engineers. WKMG.
Manatee: The requirement that students and employees wear face masks in schools was extended unanimously Tuesday by the school board, but will be reviewed every three months. Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said a majority of parents who answered a district survey supported the requirement. “I was surprised that the parents really were in favor as well as employees,” she said. Still, many parents spoke against the mandate at the meeting. Bradenton Herald. WWSB. WFLA. Six more coronavirus cases were reported at five schools Tuesday, sending 40 people into two-week quarantines. Schools affected were Blackburn Elementary, Harvey Elementary, Manatee High, Manatee Technical College and Tara Elementary. Bradenton Herald.
Lake: A neighborhood group wants to transform Clermont Elementary School into a multigenerational community center when the district closes it in 2023. The Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance wants it to become a center for education, employment training and arts and recreation. School board members were receptive to the idea. “It’s wonderful to see such a developed vision,” said board chair Kristi Burns. “I hope we can partner together with that.” WMFE.
St. Johns: The newest high school in the district has been topped off and is on track to open as scheduled next fall. The school, which is known as HHH but will be named Dec. 8, is in the northwest part of the county and will hold up to 2,100 students. St. Augustine Record. WJXT.
St. Lucie: A surge in coronavirus cases has prompted a private school in Fort Pierce to temporarily switch to online-only learning. John Carroll Catholic High School reported nine positive cases among students. It closed today and will have remote classes Thursday. WPEC.
Alachua: Karen Clarke, who has been the school superintendent since May 2017 and has worked in the district for almost 29 years, has announced she is stepping down at the end of the school year. Her last day will be June 30, 2021. She gave no reason for her decision. “I have made the announcement at this time so that the board will have the transitional time needed for board planning and community engagement in its selection of new leadership,” she wrote in a letter to school board members. Gainesville Sun. WCJB. WGFL.
Bay: The school district has agreed to transfer ownership of the historic St. Andrews School to the county as payment for a new parkway to the Panama City Beach Sports Complex and the Walsingham K-8 Academy that is now under construction. County officials want to restore the school, built in 1926, and turn it into a community center. WMBB. WJHG.
Indian River: Ten coronavirus cases have been reported in six district schools this week, forcing dozens of students into quarantine. WPEC.
Jefferson: Recently elected school Superintendent Eydie Tricquet will be paid $104,835 in 2021, which is an increase of $4,232 over what former superintendent Marianne Arbulu received. School board members Gladys Roann-Watson, Sandra Saunders, Shirley Washington, Bill Brumfield and Charles Boland will each receive $27,748, an increase of $1,120 over last year. ECB Publishing.
Colleges and universities: Members of the University of South Florida board of trustees criticized the school’s leaders for the way they announced last month how the school would phase out the College of Education undergraduate program. “I understand we’re not closing down the college, however, I’m upset about process and I’m upset about communication,” said trustee Byron Shinn at a meeting Tuesday. “We lit up the community in a bad way.” Tampa Bay Times.
More on the coronavirus: Members of the Council of Chief State School Officers said U.S. school districts will need $158.1 billion to $244.6 billion in aid from a congressional stimulus bill to reopen school buildings safely and serve all students. Current aid proposals range from $58 billion to $175 billion. Education Dive.
Opinions on schools: Regulations found across the United States could limit the availability of learning pods and reduce parental choice. Jonathan Butcher, redefinED.