Property insurance costs soar for districts, textbook review volunteers, superintendent search, dress codes, and more

Around the state: Property insurance rates are skyrocketing for school districts in Florida, more than 1,500 people apply to join school book review committees in Miami-Dade County, Brevard’s updated dress code bars students from wearing anything that “emulates non-human characteristics,” a Jacksonville NAACP official worries that Duval’s superintendent search could be focusing on a single person, Flagler’s school district will be able to offer all students free breakfasts and lunches under an expanded federal program, and Gov. Ron DeSantis says if he’s elected president he will try to eliminate the Education Department and several other federal agencies. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: More than 1,500 parents have applied to join the school district’s social studies textbook review committees. School board member Steve Gallon said parents will be picked at random, and be joined by educational experts. The application deadline is June 30. The committees will begin reviewing the materials on July 24, and their recommendations are due Sept. 7. The school district will be adopting new social studies instructional materials for students in all grades, as well as for advanced placement courses. WPLG.

Broward: Jurors have deliberated for almost 15 hours over three days and still have not reached a verdict in the trial of Scot Peterson, the sheriff’s deputy who took cover instead of confronting the gunman who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. Peterson is charged with child neglect and culpable negligence. Deliberations resume this morning. Sun-Sentinel.

Duval: The Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP said it’s concerned that the school board has already decided who the next superintendent will be. “We want to be sure that number one, we are included in the process,” said Isaiah Rumlin, president of the NAACP branch. “It seems the school board has already predetermined its next leader.” Rumlin thinks the board is looking at Addison Davis, the former Clay superintendent who has left the superintendency in Hillsborough to move back to northeast Florida. School board member Lori Hershey denied Rumlin’s assumptions, saying, “I can assure you that I have not predetermined who our next superintendent will be and look forward to the process ahead.” Davis has said he’s not sure if he’s even going to apply to replace Diana Greene. WJXT. Jacksonville Today. WJAX.

Brevard: School board members updated the dress code this week by banning students from wearing cat ears, dog collars, tails and generally anything that emulates “non-human characteristics.” The prohibition of “furries” was prompted by comments from students on a survey of dress code policy, said board member Katye Campbell. “Otherwise we probably wouldn’t have been having this conversation, but as we read through those comments, that was part of student voice, that they thought was a real problem, a real distraction.” Other changes address clothes and accessories from head-to-toe and provide more specific guidelines about the length of shorts and shirts, opaqueness of clothing and not allowing certain areas of the body to be exposed, in an attempt to eliminate some of the bias against girls in the old policy. Florida Today.

Manatee: Jason Wysong will be sworn in Monday as the new school superintendent. He replaces Cynthia Saunders, who is retiring after five years and whose last day is Friday. Wysong was previously the deputy superintendent for the Seminole County School District. WWSB. WTSP.

Leon: Soaring property insurance costs are being felt by the school district, as well as other districts around the state. This year Leon officials said they will spend $2.4 million insuring about 200 buildings, which is about $550,000 more than they spent in the last year. And the district will receive less coverage for the higher rates. “It’s a very hard market right now,” said Todd Stupski, director of risk management for the district. Florida’s insurance rates are expected to rise an average of 40 percent this year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Tallahassee Democrat.

Okaloosa: Decal stickers alerting students to the threats of human trafficking have been placed in middle and high school bathrooms in the southern part of the county. Posting of the stickers, which include a hotline number and information, was done by the school district in collaboration with law enforcement and the Fort Walton Beach Women’s Club. WEAR.

Bay: A new student insurance program has been approved by the school board. Orlando-based KidGuard will provide accident coverage for 21,000 students at a cost of about $90,000. “This is not health insurance,” explained district chief financial officer Jim Loyed. “It’s accidental insurance. If I fall and break my leg on the playground.” WMBB.

Flagler: An expanded federal child nutrition program will enable the school district to provide free breakfasts and lunches to all the district’s students, regardless of their family income, when schools reopen Aug. 10. “We’re pleased to have the opportunity to provide lunches at no charge to all of our students,” said food services director Angela Bush. “For the next three years, and possibly beyond, families will not have to worry about meal debt.  Nor will our staff members. That is a peace of mind to be grateful for.” Flagler Live.

Gulf: The school district is receiving $2.5 million from the state budget that will be used “to benefit our athletic facilities,” said Superintendent Jim Norton. “This will be a tremendous benefit for both Port St. Joe and Wewahitchka,” he said, “because in our small communities our school facilities are more like public parks that bring benefits to everyone.” Port St. Joe Star.

Colleges and universities: Donald Palm, Virginia State University’s executive vice president and provost, has been named executive vice president and chief operating officer at Florida A&M University. Palm worked at FAMU for 22 years as a professor and associate provost for undergraduate studies, but left in 2016. Palm replaces COO Maurice Eddington, who was recently named president of the University of the District of Columbia. Tallahassee Democrat. More than $21 million from the state budget is going to Indian River State College, which will use $14.2 million of it to renovate a building at its Pruitt campus in Port St. Lucie to provide modern classrooms and laboratories for the nursing school. Eventually, school officials want to dedicate the entire Pruitt campus to health and human sciences programs. WPEC.

Education podcasts: Brett Farley, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, talks about the reasons and purpose of a Catholic virtual charter school recently approved in his state, why such a school passes constitutional muster, the anticipated court fight over its approval, and more with Lisa Buie of Step Up For Students. reimaginED.

Around the nation: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that if he’s elected president, he will try to eliminate the Education, Commerce and Energy departments, and the Internal Revenue Service. In an interview with Fox News, DeSantis said, “If Congress will work with me on doing that, we’ll be able to reduce the size and scope of government. If Congress won’t go that far, I’m going to use those agencies to push back against woke ideology and against the leftism that we see creeping into all institutions of American life.” NBC News.

Opinions on schools: Too often, the safety of students while traveling to and from school is compromised by distracted and reckless drivers who carelessly speed through a school zone. While signage and flashing beacons alert drivers and law enforcement engages targeted enforcement, the authorization of speed detection systems or speed cameras under the new law will substantially improve efforts to slow motorists and protect children within school zones. Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister, Tampa Bay Times. No one would suggest that New College is perfect, but the new regime has proposed nothing to actually improve the conditions that need improving at the school. Instead, it has made changes that will make everything worse, more expensive and less desirable for incoming students and faculty. Steve Jacobson and Herb Guggenheim, Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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BY NextSteps staff