Collier’s Patton leaving job after this year, districts boost pay to lure bus drivers, new sports and more

Around the state: Collier County school Superintendent Kamela Patton announces she will step down after the 2022-2023 school year, several school districts are boosting pay as they try to hire school bus drivers, Nassau County school officials say the bus driver shortage and rising costs may force the district to resort to occasional “blackout” days when buses don’t run their regular routes, the Polk school district is considering adding several sports to address declining participation by girls and meet federal Title IX requirements, the Miami-Dade and Broward school districts coped with leadership changes and declining enrollments during the past school year, Florida Virtual School is expanding its elective courses, a former Florida State University basketball coach has been hired as the athletic director and coach for the Jefferson County School District, and a former Flagler County school bus driver who is accused of being drunk while driving 40 middle school students in February arrived impaired at a court hearing Monday. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade, Broward: The past school year included changes in leadership for both the Miami-Dade and Broward school districts and a return to a more normal educational atmosphere from pandemic safety protocols. A review of the 2021-2022 academic year showed both districts lost students, had trouble retaining teachers and experienced shortages in other areas as well, saw students test scores decline, and made extensive arrangements to address learning loss and improve student mental health services. Miami Herald.

Duval: A woman whose son attends a district school has started raising money to buy door barricades for classrooms from an Iowa company, which makes devices that make it harder to open doors that swing out or in. “I feel like I shouldn’t have to do this,” said Valerie Boote. “I don’t feel like anybody should have to do this.” Last year, during the height of the pandemic, Boote raised money to buy air purifiers for classrooms. WTLV.

Palm Beach: Gulfstream Goodwill Academy, a charter school that enrolls 55 students between the ages of 16 and 21 with disabilities who have deferred graduating from high school to work, is moving from Boynton Beach to West Palm Beach. WPTV.

Polk: District officials are considering adding four sports for the 2023-2024 school year to try to address the decline in participation by girls and help comply with federal Title IX requirements. “With the rapid decline in female participation, especially in basketball, our gender equity numbers could possibly be a potential concern in the future,” district officials wrote in a presentation to the school board that will be discussed today. Almost 14,000 girls played sports during the 2016-2017 school year, but that declined to about 10,500 in 2020-2021. Possible additions are girls flag football, girls beach volleyball, boys volleyball and bowling for both boys and girls. The district now offers 25 of the 31 sports sanctioned by the Florida High School Athletic Association. Lakeland Now.

Pinellas, Tampa Bay area: Hiring bonuses of $1,000 are being offered for new school bus drivers, Pinellas school district officials said. The first of the district’s seven job fairs is today, and the immediate goal is to fill at least 50 job openings. New hires will get $500 when they complete training, and another $500 at the end of the school year. Hillsborough also is holding a job fair today to find drivers. The district increased driver pay, and is offering other employees bonuses for referring new drivers. Tampa Bay Times. WFTS. At its next meeting June 21, Hillsborough County School Board will again consider eliminating native American mascots from Chamberlain and East Bay high schools. Student governments met with advocacy groups recently and recommended making the change. WFLA.

Osceola: District officials hope raising pay for school bus drivers and attendants will result in more applicants at a job fair today. Drivers will be paid $16.50 an hour, and attendants $15. District officials said they need 140 attendants. WESH.

Volusia: District officials will begin paying a minimum wage of $15 an hour to schools employees on July 1, three months before it’s required by a new state law. The move follows the district’s agreements with unions representing teachers and other school workers. WKMG.

Collier: Kamela Patton announced Monday that she will step down as district superintendent at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. She was appointed in 2011, was named the state superintendent of the year for 2022 and was also a finalist for the national superintendent of the year award. “I am grateful for the school board’s unwavering support, which has provided a platform for student achievement and numerous initiatives,” Patton said in her announcement. “Their commitment to long-term stability has enabled us to be an A school district and a model throughout Florida and the nation.” Four years ago Patton entered the state’s deferred retirement program, giving her five more working years. Those five years end in June 2023. Patton said she will pursue new opportunities in education. School board members will discuss the replacement process during today’s meeting. Naples Daily News. WINK. WFTX.

Marion: Health officials are offering free non-COVID vaccinations for school-age children Friday from 5-8 p.m. in a drive-through events at the Florida Department of Health office in Ocala. No appointment is necessary. Ocala News.

Leon: Seven district schools are getting new principals for the next school year: Montford Middle, Swift Creek Middle, Sabal Palm Elementary, Fort Braden K-8, Conley Elementary and Apalachee Elementary have new leaders starting this week. Killearn Lakes Elementary will transition to its new principal at the end of the 2022-2023 year. Fort Braden’s principal, Jimbo Jackson, died in May and is being replaced by Todd Lanter. And Montford’s principal, Lewis Blessing, is becoming the district’s director of curriculum services. Tallahassee Democrat. Two candidates have filed to run for the District 4 school board seat being vacated this week by Dee Dee Rasmussen. In the race so far are elementary teacher Laurie Cox and Susan Hodges, who works for an insurance company. The filing deadline is Friday. Tallahassee Democrat.

Okaloosa, Walton: Shortages in teachers, school bus drivers and other works plagued the Okaloosa and Walton school districts the past school year, even though pay has been boosted. More incentives are now being considered. “Part of the issue is we don’t have as many people going into education, and I think that’s something that districts across the nation are seeing,” said Candy Bodie, the Walton district’s director of human resources about finding teachers. “The enrollment in colleges of education have declined. I don’t necessarily think that’s a result of COVID. That’s been a trend coming on.” Northwest Florida Daily News.

Charlotte: District principals are brainstorming with school board members to bolster parent participation in school advisory councils, which offer advice on such topics as budgeting and curriculum. The pandemic accelerated a lack of interest, and state law that requires SACs to closely mirror the demographics of students is increasingly difficult to meet with fewer participants. Attendance has been bolstered at some schools with the adoption of virtual meetings, and some principals have suggested providing child-care so parents can attend. Charlotte Sun.

Flagler: A former school bus driver who is accused of being drunk while driving 40 middle school students in February arrived impaired at a court hearing Monday. Mark McNeil, 60, acknowledged to the judge that he was impaired, and was taken into custody. Tests showed he had blood alcohol levels of 0.31 and 0.32, four times the legal limit. WKMG. WOFL. WESH.

Nassau: School board members say explosive enrollment growth and rising costs may force them to have “rolling blackouts” on certain days for some school bus routes next year. “We’re talking about contingency plans for next year if we don’t get money or things don’t happen,” said Brad Underhill, district director of transportation. Underhill said on most days he has 60 percent of his staff on hand, and ridership has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Florida Politics.

Monroe: A Key Largo man was arrested Friday after deputies said he threatened employees at the Academy at Ocean Reef private school for students in preschool through 8th grade. Deputies said Stephen Baldwin Jayne, 53, is being held on charges of writing or making electronic threats to kill or do bodily injury. Key West Citizen.

Jefferson: Former Florida State University basketball coach Pat Kennedy has been hired by the school district as athletic director, and will also teach and coach basketball. Kennedy, now 70, was FSU’s coach from 1986 to 1997. WCTV. Tallahassee Democrat.

Colleges and universities: An aviation maintenance technician school will soon be under construction at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport after the state approved $5.5 million for the project. Students from Manatee Technical College and Sarasota’s Suncoast Technical College will be able to earn certifications in airframe mechanics and aviation powerplant mechanics. WTSP. Gary Patterson, a longtime professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, has been named dean of the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance. Patterson had previously been the interim dean three times. He starts his new duties July 1. St. Pete Catalyst.

FLVS expands courses: Florida Virtual School said it will broaden its course offerings in the fall, offering more electives including the Cambridge advanced program, technology for hospitality and tourism, intro to teaching and the study of the Hebrew language. Orange Observer.

Around the nation: The former superintendent of schools in Miami-Dade County has gotten mostly good reviews after his first three months of running the Los Angeles school system. But Alberto Carvalho faces a challenging future with declining enrollment likely forcing him to close schools and move staff, which could complicate upcoming negotiations with employee unions. The 74.

Opinions on schools: Choice mechanisms allow educators to create schools outside of the curricular veto power of status-quo forces. It can replace standardized failure with pluralism and diversity. Choice opponents will sometimes try to frighten people with the prospect of witchcraft schools, etc., but if you look around the country the revealed demand is for a number of different curricular models. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED. The rise of hybrid schooling bodes well for students whose needs, gifts, interests and learning styles do not align with the factory school model of the 20th century, and for parents who know that no school can maximize the potential of every child every year in every way. William Mattox, reimaginED. I was a Florida teacher for many years and I’m worried that teachers will leave the state because of new laws that threaten them for using “forbidden” words, teaching history the “wrong” way or for using books that non-educators say should be banned. Skip Lowery, Miami Herald. If Florida TaxWatch is serious about improving the math and science readiness of the state’s students, it will have the guts to make a detailed proposal – including budget – for improving the math and science teaching corps. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.