Interim superintendent move fails, charter schools, balancing a budget, teacher raises in Bay, and more

Around the state: A move Tuesday to name an interim Broward school superintendent failed, questions are raised about the legality of the meeting Monday at which Broward Superintendent Vickie Cartwright was fired, the Broward school board votes to send $9.75 million to charter schools, Escambia school board members vote to turn Warrington Middle School over to a charter school company, Alachua’s school board is using $5 million from a tax measure approved by voters to balance its budget, a tentative contract agreement is reached between the Bay school district and its teachers, two new Miami-Dade County School Board members are sworn in, and Sarasota’s school district names its principal and assistant principal of the year. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: Two new school board members who were endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis were unofficially sworn in Tuesday by Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez. Roberto Alonso and Monica Colucci recited the oaths of office a day before the current board’s final meeting and one week before the official swearing-in ceremony Nov. 22. They said they wanted to hold the ceremony with family and friends now because “it would be difficult to get people to attend so close to Thanksgiving,” said district officials. Both promised to promote parental rights and oppose the “indoctrination” of students during their tenure. Miami Herald. WLRN.

Broward: A move to name an interim superintendent to replace the fired Vickie Cartwright fizzled Tuesday when several board members objected. Board chair Torey Alston suggested hiring Earlean Smiley, a former vice principal at his alma mater, Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach. But board members Lori Alhadeff and Ryan Reiter opposed the move, saying they didn’t know her and wouldn’t be comfortable without interviewing her. National searches for both a new and an interim superintendent are expected to begin Dec. 6. Cartwright, whose contract requires 60 days’ notice, said she intends to “act with integrity and a students’ first mindset” until then. She also said she was “shocked and surprised” to be fired Monday night, but was “not prepared to say what is driving this.” Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. WLRN. Questions have been raised about whether Monday’s meeting complied with the state’s Sunshine Law, but board members rejected board attorney Marylin Batista’s suggestion that they could redo the vote at a future meeting just in case there was a violation. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. Board members voted 6-3 Tuesday to send $9.75 million in discretionary tax dollars to charter schools. “I hear painfully the need, I hear it, I just think we need to share it,” said board member Kevin Tynan. Sun-Sentinel. An assistant football coach at South Broward High School has been arrested and accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl. Maquedius Dashad Bain is charged with sexual battery, an authority figure soliciting or engaging in sexual conduct with a minor, and traveling to “meet a minor to seduce, solicit, lure, entice or engage in unlawful sexual conduct with a child.” Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. WPLG. WSVN.

Duval: A janitor at Ramona Boulevard Elementary School in Jacksonville has been arrested and accused of sexual battery of children under the ages of 12 and 16. Wayne Willis Williams, 62, has worked for the school district for nearly 30 years at 10 schools. He was placed on administrative leave in September. Florida Times-Union. WJAX. WJXT. WJCT. WTLV.

Lee: School board members have mixed feelings about voters’ decision to make the superintendent’s job an elected one. District superintendents have been appointed since 1974, but that will change in the November 2024 election. “An appointed superintendent is based on education, training, experience, proven ability to do the job,” said board member Mary Fisher. “An elected superintendent … any eligible resident can run regardless of skills and ability.” Colleague Melisa Giovannelli favors the switch. “At the end of the day, it’s about the will of the people,” she said. “I believe the power needs to be with the people.” Fort Myers News-Press. What were the requirements for an appointed superintendent, and what will they be for an elected one? That and four other things to know about the coming change. Fort Myers News-Press. A student at Ida Baker High School in Cape Coral has been arrested and accused of making a threat against the school. WINK. WBBH.

Sarasota: Stephen Covert of the Pine View School has been named the school district’s principal of the year, and Brookside Middle School’s Jessica Fuesy was selected as the assistant principal of the year. Both are now eligible for the statewide awards that will be announced next spring. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Texts between the Disney Co. and the principal of Venice High School show that the company objected to both the school’s Indian logo and the word Indians on the school marching band uniforms, and wouldn’t allow the band to march at the park unless both were removed. The school refused and the band will instead play in the Sarasota holiday parade Dec. 3. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Escambia: School board members voted 4-1 to allow Charter Schools USA to take over Warrington Middle School next fall and turn it into a charter school. Warrington has struggled for years, receiving substandard grades from the state, and the Florida Department of Education gave the school board the option of closing the school or turning it over to a charter company. Charter Schools will be paid $15,000 a month to evaluate teachers and students and make necessary renovations. WEAR. WKRG.

Alachua: More than $5 million from the revenue generated by the 1-mill property tax approved by voters will be used to pay staffers’ salaries and balance the school district’s financial books. The tax generates about $17 million a year. School board members approved the request Tuesday, and also agreed to ask the state for permission to use $4.5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for general expenses. WCJB.

Bay: The school district and the teachers union have reached a tentative contract agreement that provides educators with 5.52 percent raises, on average, and bumps the starting teacher pay from $45,615 to $47,544 a year. About $3.16 million of the $5 million needed for the raises will come from the district, and the rest from the state. Teachers and the school board still have to approve the agreement before it takes effect. WMBB. WJHG.

Jackson: School officials are working on a deal with the city of Grand Ridge to acquire a park and its athletic fields for a planned K-8 school. Grand Ridge K-8 will be built at the site of the Grand Ridge School, replacing both it and Sneads Elementary School. Students from both now use the fields the school district is trying to buy. WJHG.

Colleges and universities: FBI officials said this week that a minor is the main suspect in all the bomb threats made against historically black colleges and universities between Jan. 1 and Feb. 4. No details were made public, but the FBI officials said they were working with state prosecutors to “hold the minor accountable.” In Florida, both Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach and Edward Waters University in Jacksonville were targeted. States Newsroom.

Military friendly schools: One hundred and fourteen K-12 schools in 10 counties have been named Purple Star Schools by the Florida Department of Education. Schools win the designation with their military-friendly programs and services, by reserving at least 5 percent of open-enrollment seats for students from military families and by offering training to staff to meet the families’ needs. The schools are in Brevard, Citrus, Clay, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Monroe, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties. Thirty-five of the schools are in Okaloosa. News Service of Florida. Northwest Florida Daily News. WJHG. WGFL. WEAR. The Capitolist. Florida Department of Education.

Around the nation: More than 700 children were arrested in U.S. elementary schools during the 2017-2018 school year alone, according to a recent analysis of law enforcement records. Black students and children with disabilities were disproportionately affected. CBS News.

Opinions on schools: Vickie Cartwright’s firing as Broward’s school superintendent does not feel like a meaningful step toward fixing the district’s problems. It’s a message that the board appointed by Gov. DeSantis — emboldened after his landslide re-election victory — will set the house on fire to get what it wants. Miami Herald. Our parents care more about what is happening in our schools than campaign slogan writers do. We should thank parents for that and listen carefully whenever they, not ambitious politicians, tell us something they know would make our schools even better. Jay Mathews, Washington Post. Both sides declared victory on education issues after last week’s elections, but there were no clear lessons from the results. Mike Antonucci, The 74.