Students decorate crosswalks, boundary vote ahead, teacher beats odds to win award and more

Around the state: A teacher in Hillsborough who fought for her life after a medical diagnosis won an Educator of the Year award, the Florida Department of Education told school districts to produce detailed information about the programs and materials they use to address subjects that have been hotly debated, students decorated crosswalks at a school in Lee to make them safer and brighter, and leaders at New College of Florida are wondering where funds will come from for the interim president’s salary. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, colleges and universities:

Broward: Amanda Hoy is a senior at Cooper City High School and is the first student in her school’s National Honor Society with a cognitive disability. “Anyone can look up to someone like Amanda, and you can look up to anyone, it’s really amazing to see the change that one person can bring,” said Kayla Spennato, one of Amanda’s cheerleading teammates. NBC Miami.

Hillsborough: Superintendent Addison Davis on Friday put the finishing touches on a fresh proposal to change attendance boundaries before a key school board vote on Tuesday. Under the new plan, 282 students would be sent from Bloomingdale High to Brandon High, and it would cut in half the number moving from Farnell Middle in Westchase to Smith Middle in Citrus Park. Unlike the Feb. 13 workshop, Tuesday’s meeting is a business meeting where members of the public can speak. Tampa Bay Times.

Sarasota: The four Republicans representing Sarasota County in the Florida House voted for a state budget that cuts $12 million from Sarasota schools because the district approved a mask mandate. The Sarasota County School Board repealed the mask mandate in October as COVID-19 cases declined. Longboat Key News.

Marion: Students here wrote about Valentine’s Day, and talked about who their special valentines were. Ocala Star-Banner.

Leon: A Knight Creative Communities Institute project to make school crosswalks brighter and safer moved to north Tallahassee’s DeSoto Trail Elementary School on Saturday. The colors and patterns are designed to grab a driver’s attention and slow down traffic. A recently study by Florida State University showed that brightly colored crosswalks promote traffic safety in school zones. “School safety is our number 1 priority. We want our students to be safe coming and going to school, so this project enhances that,” said Principal Michele Keltner. WFSU. Meanwhile, the Tallahassee Collegiate Academy will open in August. The new charter high school is geared toward students who want to pursue degrees in STEM-related fields — science, technology, engineering and math. The school is housed on the campus of Tallahassee Community College, which received a grant from the Florida Department of Education to be the first college charter school authorizer. WFSU.

Alachua: The Education Foundation in this county held their 12th annual education gala. The foundation put up art for auction from students in Bucholz, Gainesville, Loften and Eastside high schools. All proceeds raised at the event go toward funding the Alachua County Public Schools arts department. WCJB.

Escambia: The Pensacola Omega Lamplighters, a youth civic organization, are preparing to host a fundraiser at Pensacola High. The goal of their March 11 event is to empower youth with the knowledge they will need to develop social and leadership skills to become responsible, productive citizens. WEAR.

Teacher beats the odds: A teacher at Cambridge Christian School was recently named Educator of the Year by the National Society of High School Scholars. Ms. Phinney was also bedridden and fighting for her life after being diagnosed with endometriosis, which robbed her of the ability to walk and confined her to a bed for almost a year. “It’s one thing to be recognized by colleagues or your academics, but by far, to me, if the students are believing this, that means the most,” said Ms. Phinney. ABC Action News.

Black History Month: Two Southwest Florida students were winners in a statewide essay competition that was part of Black History Month student contests made possible through a collaboration between the Florida Department of Education, Volunteer Florida, the Florida Lottery and the Florida Prepaid College Foundation. Students in fourth through twelfth grade were asked to submit an essay based on this year’s theme. Winners receive a two-year Florida College Plan scholarship and a $100 gift card for school supplies. WGCU.

School board members targeted: Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking aim at three Treasure Coast school board members, saying they should be ousted next year for not shielding students from particular ideologies and for failing to protect the rights of parents. Indian River county’s Peggy Jones and Brian Barefoot, and St. Lucie county’s Jack Kelly made a list of 14 school board members statewide that the governor wants to unseat in 2024. TC Palm.

State request: The Florida Department of Education told school districts to produce detailed information about the programs and materials they use to address subjects that have been hotly debated. The department asked superintendents to fill out a 34-question survey identifying titles of books and programs they have relating to subjects such as sex education, diversity, equity and inclusion, among other topics. The ask included specifics for students courses and employee training. Miami Herald. Bradenton Herald.

University and college news: When New College of Florida’s board of trustees approved a contract for Richard Corcoran to serve as interim president, some said his salary seemed high. Now, some leaders at the school in Sarasota are questioning where the funds will come from. Under state law, only $200,000 in taxpayer money can be used to pay a university official’s salary, so private donations must cover the rest. Tampa Bay Times. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Rollins College faculty and students officially opened the Winter Park campus’ latest addition: A new $8 million building devoted to theater and dance. “We now have the facility that matches our reputation and academic quality,” said Rollins president Grant H. Cornwell. Orlando Sentinel. About 150 students gathered in Ace Plaza on the New College of Florida campus as part of a statewide walkout to protest the state’s higher education policies. The college, whose student enrollment is about 700, has been the focus of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to create a more conservative education model at universities in Florida. New College students, alumni and supporters have voiced concerns since the start of what they call an overreach and takeover of their educational freedoms. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida A&M’s Marching 100 is projected to cost the university about $450,000 in travel funds for the highly acclaimed band during the 2023-34 school year. The cost, which is part of the university’s operating budget, was presented last week. Tallahassee Democrat.

Opinions on schools: Substitute teachers deserve more respect. Alanah Nichole Davis, Ed Week.