Hurricane Ian help, ACT scores drop, FHSAA form changes, mental health resources and more

Around the state: Enrollment help is being offered to families in the wake of Hurricane Ian, a jury began deliberations in the Nikolas Cruz trial, a FHSAA form sparks controversy and leads to changes, ACT scores hit their lowest point in three decades and community leaders participated in National Walk to School Day events. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools and colleges and universities:

Broward: Jurors will continue deliberations today to decide whether to sentence Nikolas Cruz to life in prison or recommend he be put to death for the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. Deliberation began on Tuesday, but a decision was not reached. WPLG. WFOR. WFTSFox 13.  WFLA.

Hillsborough: School officials here are enhancing mental health outreach efforts for students. The district on Wednesday announced two new measures, which include a centralized information source on Clever, a web platform students use for their classes, and brochures on key topics that will be displayed in all middle and high schools. District staff created the materials in consultation with a student advisory committee. Anxiety was an overriding issue, as well as peer and social conflicts, according to surveys and committee members. Tampa Bay Times.

Duval:  Plans are underway to renovate Old Stanton High School, which had been closed to students for five decades. The goal is to preserve the past for the first high school built in Florida for African Americans. Action News Jax.

Volusia: This county’s schools director of safety and security resigned one week after school started in August. Now, the school district plans to replace Michelle Newman with a captain from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Mike Chitwood visited the school board meeting this week to discuss the contract for his office to provide the district with a school safety specialist, which was approved by the board. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Lee: Help with school enrollment for families displaced by Hurricane Ian is on the way. Temporary satellite enrollment offices will be set up today and Friday that will allow families displaced or relocated due to the hurricane to re-enroll their students into a new school that better meets their current needs. Social workers, bilingual support and Exceptional Student Education will be available at each location. Ft. Myers News-Press. A workshop was held Wednesday where the superintendent and school board discussed reopening classrooms to learning. The preliminary plan is to start reopening schools on Monday, but officials must check for working fire alarms, announcement systems, safe water and air quality. WINK.

Seminole: Voters here will choose two new school board members on Nov. 8 in runoff races peppered by the state’s controversial educations issues. Any registered voter can take part in the elections, regardless of where they live, to decide who will represent Districts 2 and 5 on the five-member school board. In both races, incumbents have chosen not to seek another term, and four candidates competed for their seats. No one won the primary outright, so the top two finishers are on the ballot. School board members in Seminole serve four-year terms, set district policy and earn $40,000 per year. Orlando Sentinel.

Leon: Sen. Loranne Ausley released her third radio ad of the week, which is an endorsement from Leon County School Board Chair Darryl Jones. In the 30-second ad, Jones calls Ausley a friend and a champion for children and asks for voter support as she hopes to fend off challenged Corey Simon in Senate District 3. Florida Politics. District officials here will join more than 1,000 other school districts in the fight against one of the most popular e-cigarette makers. The school board this week voted to join a class action lawsuit against Juul, alleging the manufacturer used unfair marketing practices to make youth addicted to vaping products. The school district will be represented by Kirton McConkie PC, a law firm based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Tallahassee Democrat.

FHSAA form: Questions about menstrual history on a Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) physical form for student-athletes will be reconsidered after a news story prompted backlash from athletes, parents and doctors. At a special board meeting held on Wednesday, school board members voiced outrage about the five optional questions that included inquiring when athletes last got their periods. “This is information that should be between a doctor and a patient,” said board member Alexandria Ayala. Visiting FHSAA board member and former state Rep. Ralph Arza said at the meeting that he will add an agenda item on the Nov. 6 and 7 meeting of the association’s board of directors to amend the form. Palm Beach Post. Florida Today.

Lawsuit filed: A wrongful death lawsuit was filed this week against a driver accused of killing two Royal Palm Beach High School students and injuring two others as they waited at a bus stop in March. The lawsuit against Angel Lopez is the first expected to be filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. Lopez — who faces charges in connection with the crash that killed Wazir Chand — was charged in the death of 15-year-old Tiana Johnson and for causing serious injury to Khio Phan, 17, and Rondell Lawrence, 16. Palm Beach Post.

ACT score slide: Scores on the ACT college admissions test by this year’s high school graduates hit their lowest point in more than 30 years. The class of 2022’s average ACT composite score was 19.8 out of 36, the first time since 1991 that the average fell below 20. In addition, an increasing number of high school students failed to meet subject-area benchmarks set by the ACT. NPR. Associated Press. The 74.

National Walk to School Day: In 1997, The Partnership for a Walkable America organized National Walk to School Day. The annual event attempts to build community awareness for walkable and bikeable communities. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor participated for the past three years. “Events like National Walk to School Day showcase the importance of walking to school, while also making drivers aware that they should be alert and slow down while students may be crossing the road,” Castor said. Tampa Bay Times. WTSP.

University and college news: Students at Edward Waters University will have a chance to earn nursing degrees from the University of Florida under an agreement between the schools. Finalized on Wednesday, the deal is limited to only five students per year.  The agreement “will equally benefit both universities and our community,” said A. Zachary Faison Jr., Edward Waters president and CEO. Florida Times-Union. The Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation provided $100 million to the University of Florida Scripps biomedical-research program in Palm Beach County in what UF says is the largest gift from an individual donor. In a news release, UF officials said the donation will held continue development of more than 100 acres at the campus. News Service Florida. A program at Florida State University Panama City received a grant worth more than $100,000 from the St. Joe Community Foundation. FSU’s Advancing Science and Career Education in New Technologies Program accepted a $135,490 grant saying it will enhance efforts to increase interest in technology, information security and cybersecurity among middle and high school students. Panama City News Herald. The University of Florida’s hunt for a new president violates the intent of a new state law that governs the process, according to state Sen. Jeff Brandes, who also co-sponsored the measure in the Legislature this year. The law keeps the early part of a presidential search secret, but also requires universities to lift that confidentiality when a final group of applicants emerges. Instead, UF officials announced one finalist, U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, and refused to release the names of a dozen people they interviewed after reaching out to hundreds of candidates.  Tampa Bay Times.

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BY Camille Knox