Around the state: School boards in Pinellas and Volusia counties hire new superintendents, Broward school board members approve the superintendent’s reorganization plan, a Broward teacher is named as one of five finalists for the state teacher of the year award, June 27 is the new start date for opening statements and testimony in the sentencing trial of the Parkland school shooter, a survey shows that Duval high school students believe the dress code is sexist, the number of Pasco County schools starting at 10:10 a.m. in the fall has been trimmed by more than half, school times are also tweaked at 10 Sarasota County schools because of the shortage of school bus drivers, contract talks are suspended in Flagler County schools when union officials accuse the district of reneging on a promise to give employees a one-time health insurance premium rebate, and the nationwide shortage of caps and gowns could cause seniors at two Lee County high schools to graduate without them. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:
Broward: School board members have approved Superintendent Vickie Cartwright’s reorganization plan that cuts spending on academics by $1 million and increases spending in public relations by almost $200,000. Cartwright said the plan will save the district $2.3 million, mostly from the elimination of 37 jobs in teaching and learning and finance, but she doesn’t expect to make any layoffs because there are so many job openings in the district now. She’s also cutting the number of administrators by three while adding three area superintendents to supervise the north, south and central parts of the county. Sun Sentinel. Seema Naik, a 4th-grade teacher at Eagle Ridge Elementary School in Coral Springs, has been chosen as one of five finalists for the Florida Department of Education’s state teacher of the year award. The winner will be announced July 14. WSVN. Florida Department of Education. The judge overseeing the sentencing trial for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz has set June 27 as the day for opening statements and the beginning of testimony. That’s a week later than originally planned. Sun Sentinel. WPLG. WFOR. WTVJ. A summary of Day 12 of the sentencing trial. Sun Sentinel.
Duval: For the first time, high school students have been surveyed over what they think of the district dress code. More than 3,200 have responded, and they overwhelmingly say the code and its enforcement are sexist, that girls are targeted for violations and that violations are influenced by body types. Tank tops, halter tops, spaghetti strap tops and strapless tops are forbidden in the code, and students say enforcement varies and that boys are held to looser standards. “It (the dress code) needs to be made less focused on targeting young women as sexual objects,” one student wrote. “I have been dress coded multiple times at school and was told it was because it was distracting. My skin isn’t distracting. Disrupting my education because of holes in my jeans, my shoulder or midriff showing, is!” District officials will hold their annual review of the code this summer. Florida Times-Union. School board members got a look Tuesday at proposed changes in the district’s LGBTQ guide. The guide will be condensed and restructured to comply with state law, and go to the school board for approval in July. The primary change is about notifying parents of any change in their child’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being. WJAX. WJXT. WTLV.
Polk: Last December, Alturas Elementary School was in danger of being closed because of declining enrollment and an antiquated infrastructure that includes a reliance on well water. But with several housing developments planned near the school, promising an expansion of utilities and more students, the district decided against closing it and Saturday, the school community will celebrate Alturas’ 111th anniversary. Lakeland Ledger. The district is now offering eSports as an after-school activity. Competitors will play against other high schools and in tournaments, and can be awarded college scholarships. WTVT.
Pinellas: The school district’s chief academic officer, Kevin Hendrick, has been chosen as the new school superintendent in a unanimous vote by the school board Tuesday. Hendrick was one of three finalists being considered to replace Michael Grego, who is retiring this summer. Hendrick, 46, graduated from Largo High School and has been a high school math and social studies teacher, assistant principal, athletic coordinator, a principal and the district’s director of high school education, mostly at Pinellas schools. He plans to launch “listen and learn” sessions in July to help identify priorities in August. The other finalists were Ann Hembrook, a 47-year-old Marion County area superintendent; and Michael Ramirez, 49, a deputy superintendent in the Denver school district. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA. WTSP. WTVT. WFTS. WUSF. Spectrum News 9.
Lee: A national shortage of caps and gowns could cause seniors at Ida Baker High School and Mariner High School in Cape Coral to graduate Saturday without them. “We’re caught up in what looks like a nationwide problem in terms of the shortage of caps and gowns,” said district spokesman Rob Spicker. “This is not unique to us. This is happening all over.” The district’s supplier, Herff Jones, said it’s running behind delivery due to “global supply chain constraints and record labor shortages.” WBBH.
Pasco: The number of schools with 10:10 a.m. starting times will be reduced from two-dozen to 10 in the fall, school board members decided Tuesday. The times were shifted in January to help the district cope with a shortage of bus drivers. Officials said they will continue to look for ways to cut down on the 10:10 starts. “I’d like to see every one of them changed, if not exactly to where they were (before), to much closer,” said board member Alison Crumbley. “10:10 a.m. is brutal.” Board members did sign off on a proposed 4 percent raise for school bus drivers, and will ask voters in August to approve an increase in property taxes so pay can be raised for drivers and other school employees. Tampa Bay Times. WTSP.
Osceola: School board members and district officials are again asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to intervene against board member Jon Arguello for his alleged intimidation of the leader of a vendor over political disagreements. In March, Superintendent Debra Pace asked DeSantis to investigate whether Arguello should be removed over comments that she said were “creating a hostile work environment for me and for members of my staff.” The governor has taken no action on the first complaint. WFTV.
Volusia: Carmen Balgobin has accepted a three-year contract offer to become superintendent of the school district. School board members approved the deal at a special meeting Tuesday. Balgobin, 50, will make $245,000 a year and start July 1. She had been with the school district in a variety of roles, including deputy superintendent and interim superintendent for most of the 2020-2021 school year while then-superintendent Scott Fritz was undergoing cancer treatment. She left in March after accepting a job as deputy superintendent of teaching and learning for the Broward school district. WKMG. WESH.
Manatee: Free lunches for all students will end in August because the federal program that paid for them is expiring. Breakfasts will continue to be free for all students, while free and reduced-cost lunches will continue to be available for qualified students. WWSB. The district has announced six administrative job changes and the hiring of 11 assistant principals. SNN.
Sarasota: District officials will tweak starting and ending times at 10 schools in the fall to help with the shortage of school bus drivers. Eight of the changes push back the school day by 15 minutes, while one changes it by 20 minutes and one by 30 minutes. Assistant superintendent Judy Dumas said the staggered times will “help buses run effectively throughout the district. We are still trying to hire more drivers.” Charlotte Sun.
Martin: School and law enforcement officials are investigating the online posting of a photo of six students standing in front of Hidden Oaks Middle School in Palm City and holding letters that spell a racial slur. Superintendent John Millay said “students who were involved in this disgraceful incident will be provided the due process afforded under federal and state law, and our investigation will not compromise those rights. The district is, however, appalled, and saddened by this incident which is contrary to our values, and the ideals that are instilled in our students. Upon the completion of its investigation, the district will mete out appropriate disciplinary consequences to any students who participated in this behavior.” WPTV. WPEC. TCPalm.
Flagler: Contract negotiations between the district and the teacher and support employee unions have been suspended after the union accused the district of reneging on an agreement to give employees a one-time health insurance premium rebate of up to $900. “From where we sit, what they’ve done is the definition of bad faith bargaining,” said Katie Hansen, president of the union representing teachers. “We are consulting with FEA’s legal staff to determine what our recourse and next steps for what they’ve done is.” Flagler Live. Jack Petocz, the Flagler Palm Coast High School student who organized a statewide student walkout to protest the Parental Rights in Education law signed by the governor, said he’s been told by school officials that he will not be permitted to run for class president. Newsweek.
Colleges and universities: Flagler College has received a $12 million gift from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust. It’s the largest single gift the college has received since it opened in 1968. The gift, and another $24 million, will be used to restore the former Hotel Ponce de Leon building, increase student financial aid, enhance academic programs and upgrade the school’s technology. St. Augustine Record. The University of South Florida’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management is entering into a partnership with the food service company Aramark and Mainsail Lodging and Development to provide 130 paid fellowships for students. Tampa Bay Times.
Opinions on schools: The current traditional public school model is fundamentally unable to help all students. One size simply does not fit all. So why should students only be able to choose one type of public school? It is time to move on from forcing an outdated education model onto families. Cooper Conway, edpost.com.