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Florida roundup: charter schools, private schools, the Florida model & more

Charter schools. The Tampa Tribune suggests a compromise is in the works on bills dealing with charter schools funding, facilities and accountability. Senate education leaders want a broader discussion about a proposal to give charter schools dibs on unused school buildings, reports Gradebook. Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano lists support for “for profit charter schools” as another example of the Legislature not caring about popular opinion. A St. Lucie County School Board member raises the idea of converting a soon-to-be-shuttered school into a charter, reports

FL roundup logo snippedPrivate schools. The ones in Marion County are hurt by the recession, but the pain is mitigated by McKay and tax credit scholarships, reports the Ocala Star Banner. Unpaid volunteer teachers come to the rescue of a Brandon private school that experienced an enrollment dip. Tampa Bay Times.

Magnet schools. The Miami-Dade school district is looking to create a new MAST magnet school on one of the FIU campuses, but it hinges on funding from local communities. Miami Herald.

Parent trigger. The Panama City News Herald writes up Friday’s vote in the House Education Committee.

The Florida model. Education Commissioner Tony Bennett and Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, are among those participating in Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s education summit, reports the Kennebec Journal. More from WABI TV.

Teacher pay. House Speaker Will Weatherford notes that the state can’t dictate how school districts divvy up money for teacher pay, reports StateImpact Florida. The Orlando Sentinel editorial board wants the raises based on merit.

Administrator pay. The Lee school district spends more than $1 million a year on salary supplements for administrators. Fort Myers News Press.

Teacher conduct. A Clearwater teacher arrested for child abuse was a “bully,” says the mother of one of her alleged victims, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Pasco Superintendent Kurt Browning recommends that a principal be fired after she repeatedly tried to get information about a confidential climate survey, the Times reports. The Lee County School Board pays $200,000 to settle a lawsuit with the parents of a severely autistic child who was reportedly abused by a teacher with a history of issues, reports the Fort Myers News Press. More from the Naples Daily News.

Testing. An Orlando group is pushing for an opt-out for the FCAT, reports  Fox 35 Orlando. A Polk County teacher organizes a “jam session” to help reduce FCAT anxiety, reports the Winter Haven News Chief.

Technology. It’s good that the Collier County school district is incorporating students personal technology, but don’t lose sight of a level playing field, reports the Naples Daily News. The Broward school district is spending $3 million to put GPS devices on all of its buses, reports the Miami Herald.

Diplomas. Lawmakers are considering alternative tracks, including one for students planning to go directly into the workforce. Tampa Bay Times.

School spending. Education looks to be the winner in the first state budget with a surplus since the Great Recession, reports the Gainesville Sun. After years of looking at red-ink budget projections, the Palm Beach school district may have a bit of a surplus, reports the Palm Beach Post. The Polk school district is not eliminating its office of supplier diversity, reports the Lakeland Ledger.

School closings. Brevard parents are thrilled by Port Canaveral’s proposal to keep three schools from closing. Florida Today.

School security. The Lakeland Ledger offers a rundown of the school safety bills being considered by the Legislature – and includes the proposal for safety alerts at private schools. The Ocala Star Banner looks at safety proposals under consideration in the Marion district, including panic buttons.

Superintendents. Pasco’s Kurt Browning finds it tough living up to promises of improved communications, reports the Tampa Bay Times. New Lee Superintendent Rick Mills models his 100-day plan on the one used by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Heath Morrison – in some cases, almost word for word, reports the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The Fort Myers News Press lists some of the problems during the tenure of Superintendent Joseph Burke.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at