Two New College trustees want to fire faculty and start new ‘model,’ sex education policy and more

New College at crossroads: Two recently appointed trustees are calling for the demotion of the president and the firing of the general counsel and all the faculty of New College of Florida. “I move that we as a board approve a letter to the new counsel of this board to ask for a legal opinion regarding our ability to declare a financial emergency and employ a zero-based budgeting policy of terminating all contracts for faculty, staff and administration and immediately rehiring those faculty, staff and administration who fit in the new financial and business model,” Eddie Speir wrote in a proposal for today’s board meeting. Colleague Christopher Rufo concurred, and said it was part of the trustees’ plan to “restructure the administration.” He added that “we’re in charge now.” Seven of the 13 trustees have been appointed this month, six by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Politics. WFLA. WTSP.

Around the state: Broward school officials are revising the district’s sexual education policy to align it with state law, Florida’s Board of Governors is expected to consider raising tuition and fees for out-of-state students who attend any of the 12 schools in the State University System, a bill has been filed for the legislative session that would change the residency requirements for school board candidates, a bulletin board controlled by the Gender Sexuality Alliance at a Leon County high school is under investigation to determine if its content conforms to state law, and 30 Lee County teachers have been chosen as finalists for the district’s 36th annual Golden Apple awards. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: School board members have agreed to revise the district’s sexual education policy in order to comply with Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education law. District officials are starting the work after they proposed repealing the entire policy. But board members asked for a revise instead, and it’s likely to focus on a section that now calls for sexual education on national standards for grades K-4. State law forbids any discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity for students in K-3. The policy was last revised for the 2014-2015 academic year, and does not mention sexual orientation or gender identity. Sun-Sentinel.

Duval: District officials have rebooted the Jacksonville Association of Governing Students to serve on committees that will consider changes in the dress code, the student code of conduct committees and the mental health awareness group. WJXT.

Lee: Thirty finalists have been chosen for the district’s 36th Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Program. The finalists will be interviewed and observed in their classrooms by members of the committee, and six will be awarded a Golden Apple on April 14. Fort Myers News-Press.

Volusia: The district’s school choice enrollment application period is open through March 1 in parents’ portal accounts. Right now, 5,851 district students attend schools other than the one they’re zoned to: 3,307 elementary students, 733 middle school students and 1,811 high school students. There are 10 charter schools and eight alternative schools, in addition to schools offering specialized programs such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes, dual enrollment, career and technical academies and more. Daytona Beach News-Journal. A substitute teacher at Champion Elementary School has been arrested and accused of child abuse for allegedly hitting a special education student with a book. Police said Madison Anthony, 25, saw the victim hit a classmate with a book, said, “You hit her, I hit you,” and then did. WKMG. WOFL.

Leon: District officials are investigating whether a bulletin board constructed at Rickards High School by the Gender Sexuality Alliance violates state law. The board contains a message stating that bisexuality “exists and is completely valid,” and a flyer that encourages white, male, Christian, cisgender, able-bodied and heterosexual people to “become aware of their privilege.” Tallahassee Reports.

Charlotte: School officials are asking for the input of parents and residents to help search for a new superintendent. Community forums are scheduled Feb. 2-9, and a survey is available on the district’s website. Superintendent Steve Dionisio announced in November that he would retire at the end of this school year. Charlotte Sun.

Colleges and universities: Florida’s Board of Governors is expected to consider raising tuition and fees for out-of-state students who attend any of the 12 schools in the State University System. The last time the board authorized increases was in 2013, though only two schools approved higher fees. Tallahassee Democrat.

In the Legislature: A bill has been filed for the 60-day legislative session beginning March 7 that would change the residency requirements for school board candidates. Currently, candidates have to live in the districts they want to represent to be eligible to run. S.B. 444, which was filed by Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, would only require candidates to live in the district when they assume office. News Service of Florida.

Around the nation: Even as U.S. student enrollment in public schools has declined since the pandemic, school districts have been adding teachers, according to a National Center for Education Statistics report on staffing levels. The number of teachers has increased 1.1 percent since the 2018-2019 academic year, while student enrollment is down 2.6 percent in the same time frame. The 74.

Opinions on schools: Prudent lawmakers should have accountability and appropriate eligibility as the top two questions in mind as they debate the bill expanding school vouchers and the amendments sure to come. Tampa Bay Times. With the increasing polarization in society, especially in education, it seems to me that Florida is ripe for a return of the debate over how science is taught in its public K-12 schools. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow. Gov. DeSantis’ systematic attack on public education is part of a larger war on our very ability to think, question and engage in our democracy. Shevrin Jones, Sun-Sentinel. Increasing teacher salaries would provide educators with a greater ability to make choices about where they live instead of being forced into employer-run housing due to insufficient salaries. Sofia Hamilton, Sun-Sentinel. The culture of the Brevard Public Schools must change from one whose first response from senior leadership is to deny and cover-up an incident rather than admit an error and fix the issue. Kyle Savage, Florida Today. By erasing the history and studies of some, are we not only teaching the propaganda of others? Lynn Pasquerella and Mary Dana Hinton, Inside Higher Ed. I worry about how voucher systems will impact public schools because many districts would fare poorly in a competitive market. However, these proposals are a shot across the bow to all such districts. They could easily find themselves with an agenda-packed curriculum but far fewer students to teach. Jonathan Turley, The Hill. Broken school systems need wholesale change if they’re going to prepare students for the skills they’ll need by 2035. Mike Miles, The 74.  Is it worth it for the Florida Board of Governors to risk the prestige of its public universities, as well as their economic contributions, by enacting a costly and redundant post-tenure review regulation that could potentially limit First Amendment rights? Parvez Ahmed and Elizabeth R. Brown, Florida Times-Union. The Hillsborough County School District has time to address the skepticism about its rezoning plan head on, and it should work hard in the coming weeks to craft a solution that works for students, the school system and taxpayers alike. Tampa Bay Times.

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BY NextSteps staff