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Florida schools roundup: Teachers protest, sports changes and more

IMG_0001.JPGTeachers rally: Thousands of teachers rally at the state Capitol to protest the state’s education system. Their primary issues are overall state education funding, teacher pay and bonuses, and the reliance of testing for judging student achievement. Miami Herald. Palm Beach Post. Tallahassee DemocratFort Myers News-Press. Lakeland Ledger. Gainesville SunWSVN. WFSUPolitico Florida. Sunshine State News. Florida Politics.

Bill to governor: A bill that would expand educational options for developmentally disabled students is passed by the House and has been sent to the governor. Palm Beach Post. Florida Politics.

Athletic changes: A bill that would allow schools to join the Florida High School Athletic Association on a per-sport basis and students to transfer and immediately play sports is moving through the Florida House. Miami Herald. Politico Florida. News Service of Florida. Florida Politics.

Opting out of tests: House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford is urging parents to opt out of standarized assessment tests as the Legislature continues to consider further changes to the program. WFSU.

Education bills primer: Hundreds of education bills are floating around the Legislature. Here’s a look at some of the most important ones. Tallahassee Democrat.

Pledge of Allegiance: Removing the requirement of posting notices that students do not have to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance will infringe on students’ first amendment rights, according to the American Humanist Association. Bills in the Legislature would allow the notice to be limited to student handbooks instead of being posted in a prominent place. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Teacher shortage: More teachers retiring and leaving and fewer students going into teaching add up to a shortage in several South Florida school districts. Many counties are getting creative to offer incentives to bring in new teachers. Sun-Sentinel.

School start times: The Orange County School Board is asking for community input on starting times for high schools. Orlando Sentinel. Some parents in Collier County are petitioning against starting school Aug. 10, a week earlier. They want the district to start Aug. 15. The board voted this week in favor of the earlier date. WZVN.

Gifted center: The Hillsborough County School District is taking applications for its first full-time elementary school program for gifted students. The Center for Gifted Studies opens in in the fall at Boyette Springs Elementary School. Tampa Bay Times.

School plan changes: After community input, Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says he is changing his mind about bringing middle school students into the plan that would make Ed White High School a magnet school concentrating on military leadership. Florida Times-Union.

Deaf academy closing: The National Deaf Academy in Mount Dora is closing after a series of lawsuits alleging neglect and abuse. Orlando Sentinel.

New online rules: The Pasco County School District revises its rules for online students, with more specific statements on cheating and makeup work. Gradebook.

New buses: The first nine of 200 new Hillsborough County school buses are in, the first step in replacing one of the oldest fleets in Florida. Some of the buses are propane fueled and the others are diesel. The district plans to buy 100 buses a year for 10 years. Tampa Tribune.

School impact fees: Manatee County School Superintendent Diana Greene talks to a local Republican group about school impact fees and the extension of a half-cent sales tax. Bradenton Herald.

Superintendent suit: Greg Rivers, the associate superintendent in the Polk County School District who has filed a complaint against Superintendent Kathryn LeRoy, has received generally high marks on evaluations but was once reprimanded for verbally abusing an employee. Lakeland Ledger.

Water polo: Gainesville High School becomes the 73rd school in the state to start a water polo team. Gainesville Sun.

Student arrested: A girl is arrested and accused of slashing her ex-boyfriend with a knife during lunch at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines. Sun-Sentinel.

Principal disciplined: Boca High School Principal Geoff McKee is reprimanded for using the school’s football field to propose to his girlfriend. He hadn’t formally leased the field, which is a violation of school district policy. Palm Beach Post.

Bus fight sentencing: A West Palm Beach woman who attacked a Palm Beach County school bus driver two years ago is sentenced to three days in jail. She and two others were angry that the bus driver was making students from Westwood Elementary School line up before they could get off the bus. Palm Beach Post.

Opinions on schools: Finally, there are signs of sanity prevailing in Florida on student testing. Sun-Sentinel. For many people, school choice is an issue of equality. Bishop Vaughn McLaughlin, Florida Times-Union. Changes in the state’s school grading system don’t change the value of Martin County schools. Charles Gerardi, TCPalm. The disparity between school dress codes for boys and girls is no secret, and should be eliminated immediately. Niyin Smith, Gainesville Sun.

Student enrichment:  The St. Johns Middle School Athletic Association has stepped in to help a Sebastian Middle School soccer player who is diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. St. Augustine Record. Pinellas Technical College is offering free instruction in STEM subjects to elementary and middle school students in south St. Petersburg on six Saturdays from February through April. Gradebook. Florida Virtual School students, teachers and parents take a field trip to the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge Zoological Park near Crestview. Crestview News Bulletin. Some students at Seacrest Country Day School in Naples are lobbying the school to join the Blue Zones Solution, a project encouraging wellness in Southwest Florida by changing the environment around the people who live there. Naples Daily News. About 24,000 copies of a book, Inside the Human Body, are donated to Goodwill Manasota with the stipulation that they be distributed to every child in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Engineering projects are stimulating students at the first-year Flagler County STEM Academy in Palm Coast. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Students at Woodlawn Beach Middle School in Gulf Breeze are doing DNA testing to determine the impact the invasive lionfish is having in Florida waters. Northwest Florida Daily News.

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BY NextSteps staff