Around the state: The Palm Beach School District’s chief financial officer has been appointed by the school board as the interim superintendent to replace Donald Fennoy, the Florida Department of Education will name its teacher of the year tonight, a state legislator wants Gov. Ron DeSantis to remove Polk County’s school superintendent because he’s speaking at a informational meeting about critical race theory, Duval school officials who earlier said masks would be optional for the coming school year now say they’re “strongly” recommending unvaccinated students wear them, Clay County School Board members tentatively approve a nearly $306 million budget, and longtime Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden has been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition, his family announced Wednesday. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:
Hillsborough: WWE star Titus O’Neil’s fourth Back to School Bash on Aug. 7 at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium will feature rapper Flo Rida. The event, sponsored by several local organizations, will provide free physicals, eye exams, haircuts and food for students, and 30,000 backpacks filled with school supplies will be given away. Tampa Bay Times.
Duval: School officials who previously announced that face masks would be optional for the coming school year are now “strongly” recommending that unvaccinated students wear them when classes resume next month because of the recent spike in the number of coronavirus cases. “Should recommendations from the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Department of Health and/or the city of Jacksonville be revised, the district may revise its requirement to comply with updated guidance,” the district said in a statement Wednesday. Florida Times-Union. WJXT. A new logo has been revealed for the recently named Riverside High School in Jacksonville. The logo for the school, formerly named Robert E. Lee High School, will be a five-point dark blue star with a white R, shadowed on four sides with neon green lines. The school nickname will remain the Generals. Florida Times-Union. WJXT.
Palm Beach: The school district’s chief financial officer, Michael Burke, has been appointed by the school board as the interim superintendent to replace Donald Fennoy, who is resigning effective Oct. 11. Fennoy had recommended that the board appoint Burke to serve in the interim capacity while it conducts a national search for a permanent replacement. Board members hope to hire the new superintendent early in 2022. School board chair Frank Barbieri suggested that Fennoy be moved to a lesser position after a two-week transition period. Board members also heard hours of comment from opponents of face masks who reacted negatively to a suggestion from board member Debra Robinson that the board should reconsider its decision to make masks optional when schools resume. Barbieri said the board is not considering a mask mandate for the fall. Sun Sentinel. WPTV. WPEC.
Polk: A state legislator is calling on Gov. DeSantis to remove Polk Superintendent Frederick Heid because Heid is taking part in an informational forum about critical race theory tonight, hosted by the Lakeland chapter of the NAACP. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, said, “This behavior is completely unacceptable for a school superintendent. Critical race theory is fancy academic jargon for anti-white hatred and has no place in our society, much less our schools. … Superintendent Frederick Heid needs to be immediately removed from his position and his employment must be terminated.” Neither DeSantis nor members of the school board had a comment. Lakeland Ledger.
Lee: The school district needs 100 more school bus drivers, and is offering fulltime benefits as an incentive for people to take the part-time jobs. Director of Transportation Rodger Lloyd said new drivers will make $16.32 an hour, with training and full benefits, including life insurance and retirement savings. WINK. WBBH.
Osceola: At their annual State of Education meeting this week, district officials said they would be focusing on academics, safety and finances in the coming school year. Face masks will be optional. It was also announced that county commissioners would be giving $500 scholarships to every student working toward a degree or certification at Valencia College. Spectrum News 13. Positively Osceola.
Manatee: Parents of district elementary school students are being asked if they prefer their children to be in a masked or unmasked classroom. District officials said the survey is “strictly for informational purposes” and that no decisions have been made. The school year begins Aug. 10. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WFLA. A former Lincoln Memorial Middle School teacher goes on trial today on charges of possession of child pornography. If convicted, Quentin Peterson faces up to 10 years in prison. Bradenton Herald.
Lake: School officials are holding job fairs to try to fill 60 teaching positions and about 100 non-instructional jobs. “I think everyone is struggling to hire, but the pandemic has kind of exacerbated an already difficult situation,” said Quiana Peterson, the district’s recruiter. “It’s a very urgent need. We are several weeks away from the school year starting.” WKMG.
St. Johns: School officials have already announced that mandatory facial coverings, daily temperature checks and desk shields will be eliminated for the next academic year, but haven’t ruled out making adjustments if the number of coronavirus cases surges. “We’re going to lean into our community health partners, including the (Department of Health), to continue to assess the situation, but we’re also trying to make sure we don’t react too quickly one way or another,” said Kyle Dresback, director for student support services. St. Augustine Record. WJCT.
Clay: School board members have tentatively approved a budget of nearly $306 million for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The proposed millage is 6.775, which is the amount a homeowner pays for every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value. That’s below last year’s rate of 6.889, but still represents an increase of 2.5 percent because of rising property values. Board members will take a final vote on the proposed budget in September. Clay Today.
Alachua: Superintendent Carlee Simon said the district’s return-to-school plan will be released next week, and go to the board at its Aug. 3 meeting. In April, the district announced that face masks would be optional. But with the recent surge in the number of coronavirus cases, there’s pressure to reconsider that decision. Gainesville Sun.
Martin: Construction of elementary schools in Jensen Beach and Palm City could begin this month, after the school board gave the go-ahead for the tentative timelines, costs and funding sources. The projects had been delayed by the pandemic. The costs are expected to be $64 million, which will come from the extra half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2018, and district officials expect both schools to be finished by August 2023. TCPalm.
Flagler: The school district has signed an agreement with AdventHealth to provide athletic training and some mental health services. Advent will pay $100,000 over five years to the district and provide $650,000 of in-kind services. The district will pay Advent $150,000 over five years to defray the cost of athletic trainers . Flagler Live.
Colleges and universities: Longtime Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden has been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition, his family announced Wednesday. Bowden, 91, said, “I am at peace.” Bowden has been in declining health since being diagnosed with COVID-19 last fall. Tallahassee Democrat. Orlando Sentinel. Tampa Bay Times. Florida A&M University is offering $1 million in prizes to encourage students and employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. WTXL. The University of North Carolina has become the first U.S. school to organize group licensing deals for its athletes. NPR. Pensacola State College is giving $11 million in grants to students to use for anything from tuition and books to rent and child-care. The money is from the federal coronavirus relief bill. Pensacola News Journal.
Teacher of the year: The state’s teacher of the year will be named tonight. The finalists are: Sarah Ann Painter, a 5th-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School in Pinellas County; Kari Johnson, a kindergarten teacher at Fruitville Elementary in Sarasota County; Frank Garaitonandia, an art teacher at Citrus Grove Elementary in Volusia County; Jim Schmitt, a history teacher at Mandarin High in Duval; and Brittany Brown, a language arts teacher at Wildwood Elementary in Sumter. The ceremony will be broadcast online on the Florida Channel at 7 p.m. Florida Times-Union. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Patch.
Around the nation: A federal judge has temporarily blocked a West Virginia law that, like Florida’s, bars transgender females from participating on high school and college women’s sports teams. An 11-year-old will be permitted to try out for her middle school’s cross country team while the case is pending. Politico.
Education podcasts: Denisha Merriweather, the director of family engagement for the American Federation for Children and an education choice advocate, talks with Step Up For Students president Doug Tuthill about her new project, Black Minds Matter. It focuses on inequities in the education system that resemble systemic racism inherent in the criminal justice system. redefinED.