Florida schools roundup: Homeschoolers, private schools, charters & more

Charter schools: Too many charters are failing, pointing to an urgent need for more budget oversight by the state, writes the Sun Sentinel. More students are enrolling in Pinellas County’s charter schools, leaving some school board members to worry it’s at the detriment of public schools. The Tampa Tribune. St. Petersburg’s struggling University Prep needs to follow its contract and mend fences with community leaders, who also need to be willing to come back to the table, writes the Tampa Bay Times. A charter school principal embraces the universal truth that students do better academically when their parents are involved in their education, writes Bill Maxwell for the Tampa Bay Times.

florida-roundup-logoPrivate schools: Indian Rocks Christian School in Pinellas County was one of three national winners of a $30,000 school cafeteria makeover in Uncle Ben’s (the rice company) contest. Tampa Bay Times. Collier County residents support a new German school to help immerse children in their native language and culture. Naples Daily News.

Magnet schools: Palm Beach County school district officials look at building arts-themed magnet schools in the county’s southern communities. Palm Beach Post.

Special needs: A new audit finds that Orange County schools are not meeting the needs of thousands of students with disabilities. Orlando Sentinel.

Homeschoolers: In Florida, there are 75,081 homeschoolers. Parents are choosing the option for many reasons: dissatisfaction in the school district, to foster more family time or to simply be in control of the education experience. Bradenton Herald.

Common Core: Critics don’t want to debate the new standards, they just want education officials to listen and to hold off implementation. StateImpact Florida. Florida’s public hearings were supposed to be about answering questions about the benchmarks, but the conversation was drowned out by emotional outbursts and political jabs aimed at the federal government. Times/Herald. Officials expect schools to start teaching the new standards over the next year, yet educators remain unsure when, and how, their students will be tested on them. The Hechinger Report. As the fight over Common Core continues, Palm Beach County school officials move ahead with books aligned to the new standards. Palm Beach Post. PolitiFact takes aim at the Common Core. Tampa Bay Times.

Ed reform: A proposed House bill  will require that school districts be given at least one year to implement any new requirements to the state’s K-20 education code that are the result of major changes to current programs, or additions of major new programs. Tampa Bay Times.

Jeb Bush: The former Florida governor is breaking with his one-time protegé, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, over Common Core.  Politico.

Teacher pay: The Broward School District and its teachers union tentatively have agreed to give all 14,000 teachers an average 5 percent raise. Sun Sentinel. More about the $62 million deal from the Miami Herald. Hillsborough County teachers accept a 4 percent pay bump, which totals $28-million districtwide. Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher evaluations: None of the teachers at this F-rated elementary school in Hernando County earned a score below “effective” in the state’s evaluation system. Tampa Bay Times.

School boundaries: A group of Broward County parents are upset about proposed boundary changes that could result in their children having to leave neighborhood schools and their home values dropping. Sun Sentinel.

Health costs: The Palm Beach County school district looks to cut costs by tying employee health care discounts to medical test results. Palm Beach Post.

Sales tax: The Brevard County School Board looks at passing a half-cent sales tax to keep from closing schools or doing away with elementary art programs. Florida Today.

Bus drivers: The Hillsborough County school district needs 200 more drivers. The Tampa Tribune.

P.E.: Pinellas school district officials push elementary schools to condense the state-mandated 150 minutes of weekly PE into three days instead of five. Tampa Bay Times.

Scholarships: Fewer students are expected to receive Bright Futures scholarships due to the state’s more rigorous standards. TC Palm.

Good causes: An Orange County elementary teacher shaves his head to help an 8-year-old student deal with his illness. Orlando Sentinel. Boys from a Hillsborough County high school model bras to help raise money for the American Cancer Society. Tampa Bay Times.

Name change: The advisory council for a Duval County high school named for a Confederate soldier plans to vote next month on whether  to start the lengthy process of re-naming the school. Florida Times-Union. 

Conduct: A 12-year-old Polk County middle school student is accused of making three bomb threats. The Ledger. Pinellas County school officials look at reasons for student arrests at schools. Tampa Bay Times. A recent middle-schooler’s suicide due to cyberbullying is a wake-up call for parents, who need to be “digital guardians,” writes Darryl E. Owens for the Orlando Sentinel. A North Port assistant principal arrested for drunk driving is reassigned after Sarasota school district officials learn she is living with another teacher at her school. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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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.