Around the state: Florida State University celebrated the groundbreaking of its new college of business building, a new attendance record was set in Marion, a state program helps bullied students, University of Florida shattered its fundraising goal, names were narrowed down for a new high school in Palm Beach, Hurricane Ian aftermath and more on a controversial law. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:
Miami-Dade: Since taking the reins as schools superintendent in February, Jose Dotres has proposed hiring six administrators — three of whom make six-figure salaries. During a committee meeting last week, when Dotres proposed a new deputy chief of staff role with a six-figure salary, some members questioned the necessity or were concerned with hiring a high-paid executive amid the district asking voters on an upcoming ballot to increase property taxes to boost teacher pay. “I do not fully understand this new position in relation to the chief of staff position,” Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman said. “I do not have any problem with anyone the superintendent would like to appoint to any position. My problem is the title and the job description.” Miami Herald.
Broward: A new audit shows this district’s maintenance department continues to suffer from poor internal controls, two years after a district supervisor was convicted of federal bribery charges. The audit, conducted by Miami-based MDO Consultants, determined the district overpaid an asphalt contractor $30,000, bought materials without using required purchase orders and split large purchases to avoid competitive bids. South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Palm Beach: A committee tasked with naming the newest high school in this district decided on three possible names, which will be sent to the school board for a final vote. The date for that vote has not yet been set. The final three possible names: Park Ridge, Western Wave or Dr. Joaquin Garcia high schools. The county’s 24th public high school will have space for 2,600 students. Palm Beach Post.
Marion: A new attendance record was set here, topping more than 44,500 students just eight weeks after the school district topped 44,000 for the first time. Enrollment for the week of Oct. 10 was 44,509 — 1,093 more than district officials predicted for the 2022-23 school year. Ocala Star Banner.
Volusia: The school district here signed an agreement with the sheriff’s office to run its safety and security department. School officials say they believe the change will lead to faster responses to emergencies and better communication. WFTV.
Lawsuit hearing: A federal judge sparred with attorneys on Thursday regarding a controversial state law restricting the way race-related concepts can be taught in classrooms. University law professors argued it violates free speech rights. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker’s questions came during a hearing that involved two challenges to the law. South Florida Sun Sentinel. WFSU. News Service Florida.
Controversial law update: Education officials are crafting wording that will be crucial when carrying out a controversial law — HB 1557 — that restricts instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, while a work group looks to get ideas from other states. The law was signed in the spring by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Orlando Weekly. Meanwhile, teachers who intentionally provide classroom instruction to K-3 students regarding gender identity or sexual orientation will face revocation or suspension of their teaching license under a rule proposed by the state of Florida. WEAR.
Help for bullied students: Since it began four years ago, a state program has given 1,800 bullied students a fresh start in a new school of their choice. The Hope Scholarship program began in an effort to help students who have reported harassment, hazing, bullying, robbery or sexual assault. The program allows bullied students to attend a private school or public school in a different district. WFTV.
Parkland shooter case: Prosecutors called for an investigation Friday after a juror in the Parkland school shooter case said another panelist threatened her during deliberations, which ended with a life sentence for Nikolas Cruz in the killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Prosecutor Carolyn McCann said prosecutors are trying not to invalidate Thursday’s jury vote. Associated Press.
Hurricane Ian aftermath: Destruction from Hurricane Ian has forced the Sanibel School and Fort Myers Beach Elementary to be rebuilt, meaning students will be relocated for the rest of the school year. Ft. Myers News-Press. Meanwhile in Sarasota County, students wrapped up their first week back after the storm. Two schools originally set to open today with the rest of the still-closed south county schools have been delayed by an extra day. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Financial facts: Student loan borrowers across the country will have until December 2023 to apply for up to $20,000 in forgiveness from the federal government. Chalkbeat. A beta version of the application was rolled out last week. WFTV. CBS News. Meanwhile, a majority of students in the class of 2022 filed for federal and state financial aid by the end of September. More than 2.3 million high school seniors have already completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which gives students access to millions of dollars in federal, state and university support for higher education. Education Week.
Children’s book: A book by a retired teacher titled “What Luck” tells the story of a child’s ability to try, fail and start over again. Miami Herald.
Watchdog report: A new watchdog report found insight on the effectiveness of federal grant money spent on charter schools. The report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that overall, charter schools that received Charter Schools Program grants to open or expand from 2006-20 were more likely to stay open, compared to similar schools without that funding. WFTV.
University and college news: Monkeypox cases have slowed in the state, but public health experts say the virus remains a concern — including on college campuses. Colleges and universities around Florida are using various methods to prepare for the possibility of an outbreak. Spectrum News. On the heels of a student-led protest that interrupted his first visit to the University of Florida’s campus, presidential finalist Ben Sasse faces questions about whether he can lead a large public institution. The Gainesville Sun. In other news, University of Florida has shattered its fundraising goals by more than a billion dollars, marking the fifth largest amount ever recorded by a public higher education institution. The Gainesville Sun. Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers ordered a survey of nearly 2 million students, faculty and state at colleges and universities to survey what they worried was anti-conservative sentiment on campuses. So few students filled out the surveys that the answers the state collected from them were deemed statistically insignificant. WUFT. Orlando Sentinel. Pensacola News Journal. Florida State University celebrated the groundbreaking of its new college of business. The new building is a $120 million project in the making and will feature a financial trading room, a 300-seat auditorium, a central atrium and space for future growth. WXTL. WCTV.
Opinions on schools: The pandemic packed a punch unlike any other period in living memory and forced many to take a hard look at the state of the nation’s schools. Letrisha Weber, The 74th.