Idalia’s cost estimated at $5B but no deaths in Florida, making up lost school time, Miami-Dade board considering LGBTQ History Month, and more

Idalia’s cost: While early estimates suggest Hurricane Idalia caused up to $5 billion in insured losses in Florida, no deaths have been reported so far. Kevin Guthrie, head of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management, attributed that to people following evacuation orders, especially in the areas that were expected to be most affected by the storm. “The governor and I really hit that hard, evacuate, evacuate, evacuate,” said Guthrie. “It seems that people have heeded that call and I’m grateful for that.” Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that after a full day of search and rescue missions, having no fatalities “is probably something that most people would not have bet on four or five days ago, knowing how strong the storm was going to be.” Meanwhile, President Joe Biden signed a major disaster declaration and said he’ll visit the state Saturday to survey the damage. News Service of Florida. WMFE. Miami Herald. Associated Press. Politico Florida. USA Today. Tallahassee Democrat. Florida Phoenix.

Making up lost time: Most of the state’s public school districts lost instructional days this week when Idalia roared up Florida’s west coast. For many, some of those days will have to be made up so the district can meet the state requirement of having at least 720 net hours of instruction over the 180-day school year. Some may have enough time built into the school calendar to absorb the missed hours, others could convert early release days into full school days or lengthen the school day slightly, and some might consider having schools open on Monday or Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. Tampa Bay Times.

School closings: Several K-12 public school districts that were closest to the storm when it made landfall Wednesday are closed again today, with expectations of reopening Tuesday. They are Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Suwannee and Taylor. The other 58 districts are all in session today. Colleges still closed today include Florida A&M, Florida State, North Florida College and Tallahassee Community College. Florida Department of Education.

Around the state: Miami-Dade’s school board will consider a declaration of October as LGBTQ History Month, a Pinellas high school student has been arrested and accused of stabbing two classmates, at least two Indian River County School Board members received death threats after a contentious meeting this week on school books, Broward parents are being asked about the school district’s proposed sex education curriculum, and a high school football game in Indian River County is canceled when 32 members of one of the teams tested positive for COVID-19Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: A proposal to recognize October as LGBTQ History Month will be considered next week by the school board, a year after the board voted 8-1 to reject a similar proposal. At least four of the nine board members said during a meeting this week that they thought the proclamation request could violate a state statute banning instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity to students in preK-8th grades. A vote for the proclamation could send teachers “mixed messages” about what can and can’t be taught in classrooms, they said. The board meeting is Wednesday. Miami Herald. WTVJ.

Broward: In preparing to reintroduce sex education, the Broward school district is asking parents to let it know what they’d like it to teach about sex, reproductive health and disease prevention. More than 6,000 parents have already responded, said Superintendent Peter Licata. The survey asks parents about the age appropriateness of teaching body parts, including genitals; sexual abuse and domestic violence; puberty and menstruation; HIV and sexually transmitted diseases; contraception and pregnancy; and sexual orientation and gender identity, which are banned for students in K-8 and can only be taught in high school as part of lessons about health and sexually transmitted diseases. WPLG.

Orange, central Florida: The severity of the teacher in shortage is in dispute between state education officials and the statewide union representing teachers, but central Florida school districts are still looking to fill openings. Monday, the Osceola County School District posted that it needs teachers for children with disabilities, 4th-grade, middle school language arts and high school geometry, among others. A week ago, On Aug. 24, College Park Middle School in Orange County posted a “We are hiring!” message on Facebook, saying it needed 12 language arts, math and science teachers. Tuan Nguyen, an associate professor at Kansas State University who studies the teacher labor market, said Florida’s teacher vacancy rate is in the top half of all states, and that Florida was also among the top 25 percent of states two years ago with the highest rate of “underqualified” teachers. Orlando Sentinel.

Palm Beach: Tonight’s high school football game between Palm Beach Garden High and Vero Beach High in Indian River County has been postponed because 32 members of the Palm Beach Gardens team reportedly have tested positive for COVID-19. The game has been rescheduled for Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Vero Beach. Palm Beach Post. WPBF. WPEC.

Pinellas: A 9th-grader at Countryside High School in Clearwater was arrested Thursday and accused of stabbing two classmates. Both the victims, a 9th-grade boy and a 11th-grade boy, were hospitalized. The 9th-grader was treated and released, while the 11th-grader is in stable condition. Police said the 14-year-old arrested student “has no discipline history at the school, and his motive and relationship to the victims is unknown at this point.” He is being charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA. WTSP. WTVT. WFTS. Spectrum News 9.

Okaloosa: School board members have approved a revised policy dealing with book or instructional material challenges to align with the state’s rules. The process is now: County residents or parents can fill out a form to object to books. A school principal and media review committee members review the complaint and send it to a district educational materials review committee, which makes a recommendation to the superintendent, who will present the recommendations to the school board for a decision. Get the Coast.

Indian River: At least two school board members reported receiving deaths threats after a contentious meeting Monday at which dozens of people complained about books they called too sexually explicit to be in public school libraries. Board chair Peggy Jones said she was one of the them. Patrols have been placed around her home, and the sheriff’s department is investigating the threats. Other board members who have been threatened were not identified. TCPalm. WPTV.

Hearing on book scheduled: A hearing is set in federal court Sept. 15 on a request for a preliminary injunction against the Escambia and Lake school districts and the state Board of Education over the removal of a children’s book, And Tango Makes Three, from school libraries. The suit, filed by the book’s authors and an attorney representing a 3rd-grader from Escambia County, alleges the restriction or removal of the book is a violation of First Amendment rights. News Service of Florida.

Catholic school enrollment: Student enrollment is up at all seven Catholic dioceses in Florida, according to a recent report. Enrollment increases range from 8 percent at the Diocese of Venice to 2 percent at the Diocese of Pensacola/Tallahassee. reimaginED.

Opinions on schools: Charter schools and scholarship programs draw students and funding that might otherwise go to the public school district. But they also reduce its costs. Any fair-minded effort to highlight big-sounding numbers to show their cost should account for the other side of the ledger. Patrick R. Gibbons, reimaginED. Every reform that Florida’s educational leaders pursue seems to erode the readiness of the state’s college-bound students for bachelor’s degree programs in fields like engineering, computer science and the physical sciences. And these leaders seem clueless about that, maybe willfully so. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.

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BY NextSteps staff