Storm strengthening: Idalia became a hurricane this morning and is expected to strengthen into a major storm before it hits Florida’s west coast in the Big Bend area, between Steinhatchee and Cedar Key, on Wednesday. The storm could bring wind gusts of up to 100 mph or more ashore, up to 10 inches of rain, and catastrophic storm surges of up to 11 feet in some areas. Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded his state of emergency declaration to cover 46 counties, up from 33 Monday. School districts expected to be affected are closing schools today and Wednesday, including Lee (today only), Hardee, DeSoto, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Polk (Wednesday and Thursday), Citrus, Levy, Alachua, Marion, Lake (Wednesday only), Sumter (early today through Thursday), Dixie, Taylor, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gadsden (only Wednesday), Jefferson (early release today), Gulf, Liberty (only Wednesday), Leon (only Wednesday), Wakulla, Madison (early today and through Thursday), Suwannee, Bradford (only Wednesday), Union (Wednesday and Thursday), Duval (today through Thursday), Nassau, Baker (Wednesday and Thursday), Columbia, Clay (only Wednesday), St. Johns (only Wednesday), Flagler (only Wednesday), Putnam (Wednesday and Thursday), Lafayette (today through Thursday), and Hamilton (Wednesday only). Colleges closed the next two days include the University of Florida, University of South Florida, Florida State (only Wednesday), Florida A&M (only Wednesday), University of North Florida, New College (today only), University of Tampa, Eckerd College, Saint Leo University, Stetson University College of Law, Pasco-Hernando State College, State College of Florida, South Florida State College, Lake-Sumter State College, Florida Gateway College, College of Central Florida, Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College, Florida State College of Jacksonville, North Florida College, Florida SouthWestern State College (today only), Polk State College (only Wednesday), Santa Fe College, St. Johns River State College, and Tallahassee Community College. Associated Press. Orlando Sentinel. Tampa Bay Times. Politico Florida. Florida Phoenix. Florida Politics. Florida Times-Union. Tallahassee Democrat. Gainesville Sun. Lakeland Ledger. Lakeland Now. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Ocala Star-Banner. Fort Myers News-Press. Charlotte Sun. Citrus County Chronicle. Flagler Live. Spectrum News 13. Spectrum News 9. WMFE. WCJB. WTXL. WKMG. WTLV. WJXT. Florida Department of Education. National Hurricane Center. Weather Tiger.
Around the state: A federal lawsuit has been amended to include Escambia’s school district for removing the book And Tango Makes Three from school libraries, Broward prosecutors will not investigate allegations that former school administrators used details about a ransomware attack against the district as they tried to launch a new business, 11 Florida high schools are named among the top 100 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, a new Hillsborough schools program connects families with resources in an effort to reduce the number of homeless students, two Flagler 4th-graders describe their shock at being called into a meeting for black students only, and Edward Waters College in Jacksonville will receive $1 million from the state to bolster security. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:
Broward: The State Attorney’s Office has decided not to investigate allegations that former school superintendent Robert Runcie and two other administrators used details about a ransomware attack against the school district as they tried to launch a private business. District officials had asked for a review, but Paula McMahon, a spokeswoman for the state attorney, said, “Prosecutors reviewed the information that was provided and determined … that there was nothing actionable in regard to any criminality.” Sun-Sentinel. School board members will consider ending an arrest diversion program for students at their meeting today. The program began as a way to keep students out of the criminal justice system. A similar program could replace it, but with law enforcement instead of the school district handing out citations for infractions. WLRN.
Hillsborough: The number of homeless students in the school district is on the rise and is now at 4,000, but school officials hope to combat it with a new program that supports families facing eviction because they can’t pay their rent and provide other basics. Pathways to Hope was launched in March. It places a resource specialist at each of the 10 schools that have the greatest rate of students experiencing homelessness in the county: Lewis, Robinson, Forest Hills, Oak Park, Greco, Jennings, Mango, Pinecrest, Dover, and Turkey Creek. The specialist will work to connect the families with resources to help them pay bills, provide food and clothing for children, and get higher-paying jobs. “There are so many resources that we can connect families to,” said Myrna Hogue, supervisor of school social work services for the district. “The first step is is reaching out.” WUSF.
Polk: Schools aren’t closing because of Idalia, but after-school activities have been canceled for today, district officials announced Monday. They will be rescheduled. Also postponed was the College and Career Fair scheduled for tonight at Florida Southern College. Lakeland Ledger. Damian Rosado has resigned as principal of the Edward M. Bok Academy South in Lake Wales after two years, according to Lake Wales Charter Schools Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich, who also said Rosado took another position that allowed him to be closer to family members. Julio Acevedo has been appointed as interim principal. Lakeland Ledger.
Escambia: Attorneys for the authors of the book And Tango Makes Three and for a 3rd-grade student have filed an amended lawsuit in federal court asking for an injunction to force the Escambia district to put the book back on school library shelves. The district removed the book in February, and the lawsuit alleges First Amendment violations based on “content and viewpoint discrimination,” and violation of the 3rd-grader’s “right to receive information.” Originally named in the suit were the Lake County School Board and the Florida Board of Education. Lake County removed the book, then returned it to libraries and now wants the court to declare the lawsuit moot. And Tango Makes Three is a story about two male penguins raising a chick in a zoo. News Service of Florida.
Indian River: School board members heard plenty of criticism from the public at a meeting Monday. People complained that many challenged books were returned to school libraries after reviews, and read passages that they said showed the pornographic content in some books. Others who are opposed to the state’s new black history curriculum standards urged the district to reject many of the standards. No actions were taken. WPTV.
Flagler: Two Bunnell Elementary School students said they were shocked by being called into a school assembly with other black students Aug. 18 and told that students who don’t improve their test scores have a higher chance of going to jail or getting shot or killed. Fourth-grader Kenadee Robinson said the principal and a teacher didn’t encourage them at all. “They didn’t even let us ask questions or anything,” she said. “They just told us to be quiet and watch someone say things.” Both she and her fellow 4th-grader Jeff Isaac Jr. said they thought the school would have more success if the presentation had focused on encouraging students, rather than berating them. Daytona Beach News-Journal. A community forum scheduled tonight with interim superintendent LaShakia Moore to discuss the incident at Bunnell Elementary has been canceled because of the storm. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Flagler Live.
Colleges and universities: Edward Waters College in Jacksonville will receive $1 million from the state to bolster security, Gov. DeSantis announced Monday. Saturday, a gunman shot and killed three people at a Dollar General store near the campus and then killed himself. The victims were black, and the white gunman had expressed hatred for blacks in writings he left behind. Florida Times-Union. Florida Politics. University of Florida President Ben Sasse has presented a strategic plan that would raise tuition, eliminate some departments and re-evaluate professors’ productivity. The last time the state raised tuition rates was by 1.7 percent in 2013. Sasse would pare the number of departments from 199 to about 140 through consolidation, and also revise how to measure productivity of professors by the number of classes they teach and the research funding they obtain. Independent Florida Alligator.
High school rankings: Eleven Florida high schools are ranked among the top 100 in America, according to the annual rankings by U.S. News & World Report. School for Advanced Studies in Miami was ranked the best in Florida and third in the country. Other state schools, and their national rankings: Pine View School, Osprey, 13th; Archimedean Upper Conservatory Charter School, Miami, 41st; Westshore Junior/Senior High, Melbourne, 43rd; Marine Academy of Science and Technology, North Miami, 46th; Suncoast Community High School, Riviera Beach, 70th; Edgewood Jr./Sr. High. Merritt Island, 74th; Stanton College Preparatory School, Jacksonville, 76th; Design and Architecture Senior High School, Miami, 86th; Jose Marti Mast 6-12 Academy, Hialeah, 87th; and Alexander W. Dreyfoos Junior School of the Arts, West Palm Beach, 90th. U.S. News & World Report. Palm Beach Post.
Around the nation: Trevor Packer, the head of the AP program for College Board, talks about whether some students are taking too many AP course, the challenges of access to the courses, priorities for the program, and more. Education Week.
Opinions on schools: Any reader who gets past the cover of The Death of Public School: How Conservatives Won the War Over Education in America is likely to agree that rumors of the death of public education have been greatly exaggerated. The book never articulates the claim implied by its title. It does, however, provide a thorough and insightful account of more than a half-century of fights in courtrooms and state legislatures to redraw the boundaries of public education to encompass more alternatives to district-run neighborhood schools. Travis Pillow, reimaginED.