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Florida schools roundup: Budgets, Medicaid for charters, bonuses and more

florida-roundup-logoK-12 budgets: The Florida House Education Appropriations Committee proposes raising the K-12 education budget by $601 million, to $20.3 billion, which is about $150 million more than Gov. Rick Scott requested. The proposal would increase per-student funding from $7,107 to $7,231. About 85 percent of the increase would come from increasing local property taxes, which aligns with Scott’s plan. A Senate committee pushed forward a similar bill earlier in the week, but its reliance on local property taxes is unclear. Politico Florida. Florida Politics.

Medicaid for charters: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services is considering a bill that would give $10 million in Medicaid funds to charter and private schools. Politico Florida.

Teacher bonuses: The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee passes a bill that would renew the program paying $10,000 bonuses for high-performing teachers who scored in the top 20 percent on their SAT or ACT tests. But there are significant differences between the House and Senate bills. Politico Florida. Tallahassee Democrat.

Gender gap: New research based on data collected from Florida middle schools shows that the academic achievement gap between boys and girls widens at lower-performing schools. It also shows a similar trend between boys and girls in suspensions and absences. Washington Post.

Teacher recovering: Second-grade teacher Rosalind Simmons is suffering from migraine headaches and pain after being attacked by an angry parent in her Roosevelt Elementary School classroom on Dec. 17, and does not know when she’ll be able to return to work. Sun-Sentinel.

Gaming academy: At Pasco County’s Gulf High School, some students raise their grades by improving their computer gamesmanship. The Academy of Gaming, Simulation and Design, in its second year, is one of many schools in the state that offer coursework geared toward careers in the gaming industry. Tampa Bay Times.

School rezonings: Rezoning is coming to four elementary schools in southeast Hillsborough County to alleviate overcrowding at Stowers Elementary School in Lithia, a school that was built for 974 students but has 1,054. Tampa Tribune.

Astronaut/teacher honored: Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Boynton Beach held a ceremony Thursday to honor its namesake, a teacher and astronaut who was one of seven killed when the space shuttle Challenger exploded 30 years ago. Palm Beach Post. Both of Christa McAuliffe’s children and many of her students have become teachers. Education Week.

Charter school achiever: Cindi Parker-Pearson, principal of Achievement Academy charter school in Polk County, is one of three educators in Florida to receive the Champion School Leader award at the recent state charter school conference. Lakeland Ledger.

Teachers honored: Precious T. Symonette, a creative writing teacher at Miami Norland Senior High, is named Miami-Dade teacher of the year. Miami Herald. Mark Peters, a physical education and health teacher at Port Malabar Elementary, is named Brevard County’s teacher of the year. Florida Today.

Pay raises: More than 1,200 Volusia County school support staff are in line to receive raises of 3.5 percent. The union and the school board must ratify the deal. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Bay County teachers and support staff are wearing red this week to protest their low pay. Negotiations between the district and union are ongoing. Panama City News Herald.

Lawsuit moves on: Former Manatee High School principal Robert Gagnon’s lawsuit against the school district for defamation and emotional distress can continue, a judge rules. Gagnon was fired after being charged of not reporting child abuse. He was later acquitted. Bradenton Herald.

Student cleared: One of the two West Florida High School students reassigned after an alleged hazing incident on a school bus wins a hearing over the punishment and will return to his school. His mother also wants an apology and the firing of two school officials who handled the investigation of the incident. Pensacola News Journal.

Teacher fired: A physical education teacher at Nease High School in St. Johns County has been fired for allegedly engaging in inappropriate communications with more than one student. Police are still investigating a complaint that the teacher, Dionne Younce, had some sort of sexual relationship with at least two male students. Florida Times-Union.

Opinions about schools: Recess for elementary school children should be required because the kids need a break from teachers, tests and more tests. Daniel Vasquez, Sun-Sentinel. Recess gives students a small chance to catch their educational breath. Dan Ruth, Tampa Bay Times. The Hillsborough County School District needs to set guidelines that respect the boundaries between religion and public schools. Tampa Bay Times. When the FHSAA denied two Christian schools’ request to say a pregame prayer and broadcast it over a public address system, it was simply keeping church and state separate. Joe Henderson, Tampa Tribune. A bill in the Legislature promoting safety in areas where school buses stop should be passed. Orlando Sentinel. A bill tying teacher bonuses to ACT or SAT scores should be voted down. TCPalm. A school program teaching students entrepreneurship offers exciting lessons and options. Anthony Westbury, TCPalm. Volusia County students are spending too much time on testing and not enough on learning. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student enrichment: About 60 children from Hillsborough County elementary schools are treated to a showing of The Lion King at the Straz Center for Performing Arts in Tampa. Gradebook. About 40 Chinese students visit Princeton Elementary School in College Park as part of a 10-day trip to learn about American schools, improve their English skills and give Americans a taste of Chinese culture. Orlando Sentinel. Devin Barkey, a senior at American Heritage School in Delray Beach, is one of just 12 students worldwide who made a perfect score on an Advanced Placement Calculus AB test last spring. More than 300,000 students took the test. Sun-Sentinel. Special needs students at South Broward High School take the leading roles in a production of Beauty and the Beast. Sun-Sentinel. Several Miami-Dade schools benefit from music instrument donations by the charitable organization Music for Memories. Miami Herald. Ferry Pass Middle School will receive a piano and other refurbished musical instruments as part of Barry Manilow’s Manilow Music Project. Pensacola News Journal. Author Robert Martin donates 1,500 books to Colonial Elementary School and James Stephens International Academy. Fort Myers News-Press. Juniors and seniors at i3 New Tech Academy in Palm Coast design a prosthetic leg for a dog. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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BY NextSteps staff


Jim, the Politico Florida article you linked about Medicaid and charters is behind the “Politico Pro” paywall and thus I suspect most readers won’t be able to access it. Can you provide a 2-3 sentence summary of that news item? I’m curious to learn more. I assume districts receive state Medicaid dollars, presumably for high-need students. Why don’t charters? Thanks!

According to the story, each school district receives some Medicaid funding for such things as physical, occupational and speech therapy services, behavioral health services, mental health services, transportation services, and administrative outreach for the purpose of determining eligibility for exceptional student education. Charter schools are not authorized to receive such funds. This is proposed by Sen. Rene Garcia, a Republican from the Miami area.

the full agenda is at this link:

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