Florida roundup: charter schools, virtual schools, diploma paths & more

Virtual schools. In an Orlando Sentinel op-ed, U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden, politely suggests to the Florida Legislature that cutting funding for Florida Virtual School is a bad idea.

florida roundup logoCharter schools. Many charter schools struggle under the state’s funding system to spend enough in the classroom, reports the Daytona Beach News Journal. Parents of struggling Bradenton Charter School plea with Manatee board members to keep the school open, reports the Bradenton Herald.

Magnet schools. The possibility of new ones is under consideration in Pinellas as the district looks at potential remedies for 11 struggling schools. Tampa Bay Times.

Parent trigger. Education Commissioner Tony Bennett suggested changing the bill to give school boards final say reports StateImpact Florida. The bill is a “simplistic sham,” writes the Palm Beach Post.

Diplomas. The House unanimously passes a bill to provide alternative pathways to graduation, including more emphasis on career education, and sends it to Gov. Rick Scott. Coverage from Tampa Bay Times, South Florida Sun Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Associated Press, Tallahassee Democrat.

Board of Education. The Tampa Bay Times documents the downfall of former board member Akshay Desai’s health care business.

Educator conduct. Four Orange County staffers are disciplined after making disparaging comments on facebook about students with disabilities. SchoolZone.

Testing. FCAT time again, notes the Daytona Beach News Journal. Preparing for the FCAT and other tests online has been a challenge, writes the Tampa Bay Times. Testing time is eating into computer use, reports the Palm Beach Post. A prime example of testing going too far, writes Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell. FCAT is postponed at one Jacksonville school following a student’s death, reports the Florida  Times Union.

School spending. A Palm Beach County principal says he’ll lose students to charter schools because the district can’t afford building upkeep, reports the Palm Beach Post. New Manatee Superintendent Rick Mills puts out a plan for fixing the problems auditors found in the district budget, reports the Bradenton Herald. More from the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

School security. Police are looking for someone who fired a gun on a middle school campus in Manatee. Bradenton Herald.

Bullying. Students from across the southeast hold an anti-bullying rally at the state Capitol, reports the Tallahassee Democrat. Some South Florida parents don’t think school districts are doing enough to prevent bullying, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

School morale. One of the toughest schools in Pinellas, Bayside High, has the highest morale. Tampa Bay Times.

School turnaround. More than 2,000 students will be impacted by a Broward school district plan to help a cluster of high-poverty schools  by providing ties to family counseling, job training and other services. Miami Herald.

School boards. Infighting on the Lee County School Board reaches new lows. Fort Myers News Press.

School zoning. Changes in Seminole are almost done – for this cycle. Orlando Sentinel.

Take Stock in Children. Pensacola News Journal columnist Shannon Nickinson praises the program.

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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 rmatus@stepupforstudents.org or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at facebook.com/redefinedonline.