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Florida schools roundup: Open enrollment, bonuses, charters and more

florida-roundup-logoEducation bills: The Florida House passes several education bills. Among them: Allowing students to enroll in any public school that has a vacancy, making the teacher bonuses program permanent, and giving charter schools an easier path to open in exchange for greater financial transparency. Miami Herald. News Service of Florida. Lakeland Ledger. WFSU.

School recess: A bill requiring daily recess at Florida elementary schools passes in the House but is stalled in the Senate. That’s not stopping the group known as the “recess moms” from continuing to promote the idea. Orlando Sentinel. Miami HeraldPolitico Florida. Gradebook.

Test stress: The preparation and anticipation of the Florida Standards Assessments tests puts a lot of stress on students and teachers. The tests begin Feb. 29. WJHG.

Testing opt-out: Seminole County school officials outline a process for handling students who won’t be participating in state testing. And here’s how Pasco County is handling the issue. Gradebook.

Text message update: Duval County School Board member Constance Hall apologizes for sending text messages to a school staffer calling for Superintendent Nikolai Vitti’s firing and labeling one of his proposals “special ed in action.” But she remains critical of Vitti’s leadership skills. Florida Times-Union.

Book decisions: Brevard County School Board member Amy Kneessy is proposing a way to have more people challenge books used by Brevard schools. She also thinks the school board should have the final say on whether certain books remain in classrooms and library shelves. She says her proposals are just a way to make sure children are exposed to age-appropriate material. Florida Today.

Grade appeals: The Pinellas County School District is appealing the “incomplete” grades issued to 10 schools. Officials say the schools’ simulated grades, released in December, are “representative of the students’ performance.” Gradebook. The Walton County School District is appealing its lower-than-expected school grade. They say 28 student tests from a high-performing school were misplaced and didn’t get included in the scoring. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Eradicating lice: Some Hillsborough County families battling lice their children brought home from school are turning to experts for help. Tampa Bay Times.

Employees honored: Penny Kehoe is named Florida school nurse of the year by the Florida Association of School Nurses. She’s been a nurse with the Leon County School District since 1990. Tallahassee Democrat. Laura Wakefield, a Florida Virtual School teacher, is one of 14 educators that will serve on the National Humanities Center’s Teacher Advisory Council. She will advise on social studies. Orlando Sentinel. Five Collier County teachers win Golden Apple awards. Naples Daily News.

Staffing up: Marion County School Superintendent George Tomyn wants to add 83 employees to the district for the next school year. Ocala Star Banner.

Teacher recruitment: Escambia school officials launch their recruitment season, looking to hire 200 to 300 teachers at a job fair next week. Pensacola News Journal.

Gun investigation: Zephyrhills Police Sgt. Reggie Roberts says he never left his service weapon unattended during football practices at Zephyrhills High School. The school district asked the police department to investigate the charge. Roberts was fired from his coaching position in January when the school principal said she wanted a coach on campus fulltime. Tampa Tribune.

Threat messages: Some parents complain they did not receive the automated phone message from Sebastian Elementary School when a bomb threat forced an evacuation. TCPalm. Meanwhile, deputies make an arrest in a threat to Martin County High School. TCPalm.

Opinions on schools: An assistant principal at Countryside High School takes a proactive approach to lowering the freshman retention rate. Daniel Ruth, Tampa Bay Times. What were three Suncoast High School officials thinking when they let the school band play at a Hillary Clinton rally? Palm Beach Post. The Duval County School Board and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti need to find a way to get along. Florida Times-Union. The sexism we see in schools is just a part of the larger problem of stereotyping. Molly Brennan, Gainesville Sun.

Student enrichment: Hillsborough County students grill school board members in an annual Q&A session, with questions ranging from school lunches (too small), high school start times (too early) and when foreign language teaching begins (not early enough). Tampa Bay Times. Viera High School junior Ben Stern appears on Shark Tank tonight to pitch his eco-friendly shampoo ball. Florida Today. The Auburndale Speedway temporarily donates a race car to motivate Auburndale Central Elementary students in the Accelerated Reader program. Winter Haven News Chief. Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School opens a marine science center. Bradenton Herald. Two school buses are transformed into mobile learning centers for parents in Alachua County. Gainesville Sun. The Okaloosa County School District and public libraries are partnering to make resources available to more students. Northwest Florida Daily News.

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BY NextSteps staff