Governor endorsing school board candidates, contract extension, navigator program and more

Around the state: Gov. Ron DeSantis has issued endorsements for 10 local school board candidates “who are committed to advancing our agenda to put students first and protect parents’ rights,” Hillsborough school board members will consider a four-year contract extension for Superintendent Addison Davis, Orange County School Board members will interview the two finalists for the superintendent’s job, Escambia schools’ navigator program to help students was so successful that the district wants to continue it even though the federal funds for it are drying up, Flagler County commissioners approve the school board’s request to place an extra half-cent sales tax on the ballot Nov. 8, and Florida Atlantic University president John Kelly will resign at the end of the year and take a job in the university’s research wing. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Hillsborough: A four-year contract extension for Superintendent Addison Davis will be considered today by school board members. Davis would get annual 4 percent pay raises under the contract, but they would have to be approved each year by board members and wouldn’t begin until July 2023. Davis is paid $310,000 a year. Since he arrived in the district in early 2020, he has launched initiatives that include “a remarkable two-year turnaround of the operational deficit, workforce development programs … expanded mental health supports for kids and families, and better alignment of academic curricula with state standards,” according to school spokeswoman Tanya Arja. Two key employee groups expressed concern over the proposed extension. The Hillsborough Association of School Administrators said it wants to hear more from the school board about the results of a 2021 survey that was critical of Davis’ management and communication styles, and the teachers union said raises also should be given to school employees. Tampa Bay Times.

Orange: School board members will interview the two finalists for the superintendent’s job today. Maria Vazquez, deputy superintendent for the school district, and Peter Licata, a regional superintendent for the Palm Beach County School District, will meet board members and members of the community. School board members expect to make their final decision June 28 on the replacement for Barbara Jenkins, who announced in February that she was retiring in December after 10 years as superintendent. WFTV. Apopka Chief.

Palm Beach: County educators are meeting this week for a summit on African, African-American and Caribbean studies in the public schools at a time when new laws place restrictions on how educators can teach about race and identity. “Obviously this (state) legislation has had a very chilling effect on our district, our state. It just seems like it’s steeped in hatred and ignorance. And we can do better than that,” Superintendent Michael Burke said Monday. “We should be OK really … if we stick to teaching the facts. We want children to think for themselves. And they kind of come to their own decisions and thoughts. I think we can do all that.” The summit continues through Thursday. WLRN. WPTV. A former district teacher’s educator certificate has been revoked by the state. Kimberly Charles, a former teacher at Forest Hill High School, had been accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student beginning in 2018. She was arrested in 2020 and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of contributing to the delinquency of a child. Palm Beach Post.

Pinellas: The St. Petersburg-based Innovation Foundation is partnering with the school district to launch a pilot program bringing STEM instructions to 6th-graders at six middle schools. The Innovation Foundation was founded by Cathy Wood of the investment management firm ARK Invest. Schools participating in the pilot program are Bay Point Middle School and the James B. Sanderlin IB magnet school in St. Petersburg, and Seminole, Pinellas Park, Palm Harbor and Carwise middle schools. St. Pete Catalyst.

Lee: Marilyn Garcia, a 4th-grade math teacher at James Stephens Elementary School in Fort Myers, was recently named the school district’s 2022 new teacher of the year. She started at the school in 2019 as a paraprofessional, completed her teaching internship at the school and became a guest teacher in 2nd grade last year before getting a fulltime job this year. She beat out 25 others nominated for the award. Fort Myers News-Press.

Brevard: The school district’s chief financial officer has told school board members at a workshop meeting that the budget picture is better for the coming school year than it was for the last. But Cynthia Lesinski said there are still significant financial pressures because of falling enrollment, increased health-care and retirement costs, inflation and supply line distributions, and pressure from school employees for raises. A proposed budget goes to school board members July 22. Florida Today.

Collier: The 11 qualified school board candidates meet today in a community forum to discuss their positions on district issues. District 1 candidates are incumbent Jory Westberry, Kimberly Ann Boobyer and Jerry D. Rutherford. District 3 candidates are sitting board member Jen Mitchell, Jana Greer and Kelly Lichter. District 5 candidates are incumbent Roy M. Terry, Arthur Boyer, Jackie Keay, Ana Turino and Timothy Moshier. The primary is Aug. 23. If no candidate in a race gets more than half the votes, the top two vote-getters will meet in the Nov. 8 general election. WGCU. School begins in about seven weeks and the district still needs to hire more than 150 teachers and about 100 other employees, according to school officials. WINK.

Sarasota: At today’s meeting, North Port city commissioners will consider increasing the impact fees on new construction that schools and local government use to provide services for new residents. If approved, the proposed fee on a single-family home would be raised from $14,206 to $15,503. Charlotte Sun.

Escambia: School district officials said the navigator program that provides social services-like help for struggling students and their families was so successful last year that they will consider continuing it in a scaled-down way even after the federal funds that sustained it run out. In the 2021-2022 school year, 32 navigators from the Children’s Home Society were placed in 34 public schools, where they helped 4,718 students connect with resources including food, clothing, government assistance and health care. “I think it was a perfect use of the (federal COVID-19 relief) dollars,” said Superintendent Tim Smith. “What those dollars were designed to do that is exactly what we utilized them for through the navigators.” Pensacola News Journal.

Martin: Indian River State College has named Anthony Boyer as the executive director/principal of the new Indiantown High School, which is a workforce and career education charter school opening in August for students in grades 9-12. Boyer, who was the principal of the Northwest Florida State College’s Collegiate High School and dean of College Pathway, begins July 5. WQCS.

Flagler: County commissioners have approved a school board request to place an extra half-cent sales tax initiative to benefit the school district on the Nov. 8 ballot. If approved, the tax would go into effect Jan. 1 and continue for 10 years. Proceeds would be used to buy school buses, harden schools, upgrade security systems, and outfit smart classrooms and learning labs. WKMG.

Monroe: School board members were told last week that Phase 1 construction on Key West High School’s new Tommy Roberts Memorial Stadium is on track to begin in May 2023 and conclude by January 2024 at a cost of $16.4 million. The first phase includes new football bleachers, a new home team locker room, and a new visiting team bunkhouse and locker room. The baseball field will get a new press box, refurbished bleachers and a new concession stand. Florida Keys Weekly.

Colleges and universities: Florida Atlantic University president John Kelly will leave the job at the end of the year and move into a position in the university’s research wing. Kelly has been president since 2014. An interim president will be hired and a national search will soon begin for Kelly’s successor. Sun-Sentinel. WPTV.

School board endorsements: Gov. DeSantis on Monday continued his push to shape local school board elections by endorsing 10 candidates in the Aug. 23 primary, saying, “We need strong local school board members who are committed to advancing our agenda to put students first and protect parents’ rights.” Winning the backing of the governor are Mildred Russell in Alachua County, Megan Wright in Brevard, April Carney and Charlotte Joyce in Duval, Aly Legge in Hillsborough, Roberto Alonso and Monica Colucci in Miami-Dade, Bridget Ziegler and Timothy Enos in Sarasota, and Fred Lowry in Volusia. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Around the nation: Police with heavy weapons and ballistic shields were on the scene of the elementary school shooting May 24 in Uvalde, Texas, within 19 minutes of being alerted, according to news reports Monday. They followed 11 other officers who were in the school three minutes after the gunman entered at 11:33 a.m., but who were armed only with pistols. Officers with the heavier equipment began arriving at 11:52 a.m., but no one entered the classroom where the gunman was barricaded until 12:46 p.m. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed. KVUE. The Guardian.

Opinions on schools: People are rationally fleeing New York in part because it is a state that produces poor quality public services at very high cost. Florida has proved capable of policy innovation in large part due to a willingness to overcome established interests standing in the way of progress. Given the aging population, the perils of the economy, and the emptying of New York, Florida needs more choice and more bang for the school building buck in the years ahead. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED. The DeSantis Education Agenda combines common sense and political bluster. It’s too much of the latter and not enough of the former. Joe Henderson, Florida Politics.

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