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Florida schools roundup: Tony Bennett, per-pupil funding, charter conversion & more

Tony Bennett. Interview with Alexander Russo.

florida roundup logoSchool choice. Pasco Superintendent Kurt Browning is forming a high-level task force to examine expansion of district options, reports Gradebook. Miami-Dade is planning to expand its partnership with the academically rigorous Cambridge program from 20 programs in 16 schools to 100 programs in 86, reports the Miami Herald.

Charter schools. Manatee district officials stress the downside to parents considering the conversion of a magnet school to a charter school, reports the Bradenton Herald. More from the Sarasota Herald Tribune. A proposed Somerset Academy charter school, initially shot down by the Palmetto Bay Village Council, will be reconsidered. Miami Herald.

School spending. Florida ranks among the lowest per-pupil. StateImpact Florida. Associated Press.

School grading. Maine, don’t hide your problems. EdFly Blog. Here’s the message a second time, from former Board of Education Chairmen Phil Handy and T. Willard Fair in an op-ed for the Bangor Daily News.

School security. Wellington High in Palm Beach County bans backpacks in the wake of an alleged bomb threat, reports the Palm Beach Post. Orange will begin screening students with metal detectors after a high school student is arrested with a loaded gun in his backpack, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

School partnerships. Churches are working with First Coast schools to provide mentors and volunteers. Florida Times Union.

School closings. The latest from Brevard. Florida Today.

PTA. For the second time in a week, a PTA school leader in Pasco is charged with stealing PTA funds. Tampa Bay Times.

Superintendents. Finally, Lori Romano is Hernando’s new super, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Kathryn LeRoy, the director of high schools in Duval, is selected as Polk’s new superintendent, reports the Lakeland Ledger. Two Lee County school board members want a national search to replace Joseph Burke, reports the Fort Myers News Press.

FCAT. Retakes results  from Palm Beach County. Palm Beach Post.

Early learning. Pinellas is set to open an early learning center named after late school board member Lew Williams. Tampa Bay Times.

Kiera Wilmot. The latest from the Orlando Sentinel.

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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