Florida schools roundup: Charter schools, texting, teacher pay & more

Charter schools: A 14-day count shows Broward County charter schools gained 4,300 students this year while district-run schools dropped by 2,500 students. Sun Sentinel. Manatee County’s Imagine School has a new leader focused on improvement. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The Hillsborough County School District should continue to monitor charter schools for fees and other charges passed along to students. Tampa Bay Times.

florida-roundup-logoTexting & driving: Broward and Palm Beach county schools organize their distracted driving campaigns to coincide with a state law that bans texting while driving. Sun Sentinel.

Teacher pay: Nearly 13,000 Orange County public school teachers will have to keep waiting for their raises after the local teachers union rejects the district’s offer. Orlando Sentinel. The Seminole County school district proposes a $1,350 pay hike for all teachers, but the union wants raises that on average would come close to $2,800. Orlando Sentinel.

Success story: Middleton High School once was on academic life support following a string of six consecutive state-issued D grades. Now the school’s principal and two students are about to participate in a national conference focused on turning around failing schools. The Tampa Tribune.

Accountability: Orange County school leaders set a goal for the district to return to an A grade by 2014-15, get 80 percent of schools to a grade of B or higher, and get 65 percent of students performing proficiently in math, reading and writing. Orlando Sentinel. Polk County Superintendent of Schools Kathryn LeRoy unveils a metrics system for principals to reach academic goals. The Ledger.

Funding: Florida has the second-largest per pupil increase in education spending for the 2013-2014 budget year, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. StateImpact Florida.

Attendance zones: Despite repeated complaints from parents at Jamerson Elementary, it appears that the Pinellas County School Board doesn’t plan to budge on changing the school’s feeder pattern, says the Tampa Bay Times.

Common Core: State House Rep. Debbie Mayfield (R-Vero Beach) on why she filed a bill to stop Florida from implementing the new standards: “It’s going to make us stop and take a look at what it is we’re really doing.” Florida Today. A Hernando County magnet school librarian offers Civics in Action, or CIA, a new focus to help prepare students and the school for Common Core. Tampa Bay Times.

Tony Bennett: The Associated Press reports that former Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett may have violated Indiana election and ethics laws while in charge of schools there. Bennett has disputed the report.

Conduct: A Duval County lawyer and children’s advocate urges the local school district, Sheriff’s Office and  State Attorney’s Office to funnel more youth first-offender misdemeanors to the civil citation program to help protect students’ futures. Florida Times-Union. A five-month investigation into Lee County public schools’ former chief administrator confirms two of three allegations against him. Fort Myers News-Press. More from the Naples Daily News.

Lunch App: The Hillsborough County school district launches a free application for smartphones called School Lunch so students can check out the daily cafeteria menu. The Tampa Tribune.

Lifesaver: A Manatee County elementary teacher saves a student from choking on a cupcake. Bradenton Herald.

Special tea: Grandparents volunteer time and support at Pasco County elementary school. Tampa Bay Times.

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BY Sherri Ackerman

Sherri Ackerman is the former associate editor of redefinED. She is a former correspondent for the Tampa Bay Times and reporter for The Tampa Tribune, writing about everything from cops and courts to social services and education. She grew up in Indiana and moved to Tampa as a teenager, graduating from Brandon High School and, later, from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications/news editing. Sherri passed away in March 2016.