Teacher pay, settlement talks, more limits on comments at meetings and more

Around the state: Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that he would approve a line in the state’s new budget that allocates $800 million toward upping teacher salaries, more limits may be coming on public comment at school board meetings in Pinellas, and discussions continue on the superintendent post in Volusia. Here are details about these stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Palm Beach: Nearly two dozen sheriff’s deputies will soon be available to guard Palm Beach County schools if the school board approves a million-dollar agreement on Wednesday. A pending agreement with Sheriff Ric Bradshaw would provide 20 deputies and two sergeants at a cost of $100 per hour and $136 per hour, respectively. Palm Beach Post.

Orange: Residents here can share what they’d like to see in a new school superintendent, and what they see as the public school system’s biggest challenges, at a series of community forums that begin today. The seven public forums are one part of the school board’s multi-pronged approach to selecting a new superintendent for the region’s largest school district. Orlando Sentinel.

Pinellas: The Pinellas School Board is considering more limits on comments at public meetings. When the board meets this morning, it will hold a public hearing before voting on proposed changes to its comment policy that emerged amid concerns that long and often heated speeches about issues such as masks and classroom lessons were interfering with regular district business. Tampa Bay Times.

Volusia: The school board here says it plans to decide soon whether to keep the superintendent in his post. Teachers, parents and leaders in the community say they are divided about whether Superintendent Scott Fritz should stay. School board members plan to decide if they will extend Fritz’s contract beyond the end of this year in a meeting next month. WFTV.

Osceola: The county announced on Monday that all 2022 seniors will get to attend Valencia College or Osceola Technical College for free as part of Osceola Prosper. The money was set aside from what Osceola County received through the American Rescue Plan. That means that all high school students who graduate in May, whether they are in public, charter or home school graduates, can attend one of the schools for a full ride with a two-year degree.

Teacher salaries: Gov. DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran toured the state on Monday to promote initiatives they say will help recruit and retain teachers. Gov. DeSantis addressed media from the front of Fleming Island Elementary School in Orange Park to announce that he would approve a line in the state’s new budget that allocates $800 million toward upping teacher salaries. The Florida Education Association worked with lawmakers to switch the funding percentage for beginning and veteran teachers.  Florida Times-Union.     South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  Lakeland Ledger. The funding is part of Gov. DeSantis’ efforts to raise the starting teacher salary in Florida to $47,500. In 2020, the governor oversaw a $500 million shift in the state budget intended to move Florida to fifth in the nation from 26th in starting pay. Palm Beach Post.

Settlement talks: Teachers in Pinellas County expect a contract settlement to be reached this week. Meanwhile, the Pasco County school district also remained without a settlement. But the Friday before spring break, Superintendent Kurt Browning sent an email to employees saying the district had found budget funds to pay for a 4% across the board pay supplement. Tampa Bay Times.

COVID-19 adjustment: As protocols end, young students and educators are adjusting after two years of disrupted lessons. For veteran teachers and older students, its a return to normalcy. But for new teachers and young students, it’s the first time they have experienced in-person learning without restrictions or interruptions. Chalkbeat.

College and university news: An international climate change conference in Orlando featured dozens of experts who spoke in carbon sinks, carbon traps, carbon sequestration and of being carbon neutral. Precious Nyabami, a University of Florida graduate student, was honored for her discovery that farmers can easily trap planet-warming carbon. WGCU.

Opinions on schools: Access to high quality schools should not be rationed through the mortgage market, nor kept as an unnecessarily scarce commodity. Allowing educators the freedom to create new schools and families to select between them creates opportunities for families and teachers. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED. Over the last two years, public school enrollments have dropped at about the same rate as their private school counterparts have risen, and districts that denied students in-person options for most of 2020-21 experienced some of the largest declines. Ben DeGrow, reimaginED.