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Florida schools roundup: Testing, charters, bullying, tax holiday and more

florida-roundup-logoTesting routine: What is Florida Standards Assessments testing like for students? Here’s a typical day during testing season for a P.K. Yonge student. Gainesville Sun. Nearly a week into testing, Polk County officials say things are going smoothly. Lakeland Ledger.

Charter problems: The latest problems at Windsor Prep Academy in St. Petersburg and two other charter schools in Clearwater are putting greater scrutiny on their management company, Newpoint Education Partners. This isn’t the first time Newpoint has had problems with financial issues and failing schools. WFLA. Tampa Bay Times. Tim Kitts resigns as CEO of the Bay Haven Charter Academy in Panama City. He says organizational changes stripping him of his authority leave him unable to lead. He also was the subject of complaints from two administrators. Panama City News Herald.

Campaign lessons: Anti-bullying campaigns have been in most U.S. schools for years, so this presidential campaign has been confusing for some schoolchildren. “If students are following this election – and they should be – we have a lot of re-educating to do,” Buffalo school administrator Will Keresztes said. Associated Press.

School tax holiday: The back to school sales tax holiday will be cut down to three days this August. Last year it went for 10 days. Associated Press, via Naples Daily News.

School recess: State Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, is making one last pitch for mandatory recess every day in elementary schools. But his plan faces several procedural hurdles. Miami Herald. Is your elementary school child getting the 150 minutes of physical education every week as state law requires? Palm Beach Post.

Half-time teachers: Hillsborough County releases a list of 50 schools that will receive employees who are half-teachers, half-mentors. The move will come as the Gates Foundation grant ends. The district will eliminate 160 peer evaluator jobs. Gradebook.

Superintendent honored: Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is one of three worldwide winners of the prestigious Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education. Miami Herald.

Polk official resigns: Polk County associate superintendent Greg Rivers has resigned a week after it was disclosed that he had sexual relationships with subordinates while working at the University of Florida. His resignation comes three weeks after Superintendent Kathryn LeRoy resigned. Rivers had lodged a complaint against LeRoy, claiming she sexually harassed him. Lakeland Ledger.

Social media fear: The Orange County teachers union says district employees are afraid to speak out or post about education issues on social media because they fear reprisals. This week, an arbitrator ruled that the district erred in transferring a speech pathologist who posted on Facebook about education issues. Orlando Sentinel.

Contract vote: Lee County’s 5,300 teachers have until the end of the day to vote on a proposed contract agreement with the school district. Fort Myers News-Press.

Union president resigns: The Brevard County teachers union president is resigning. Richard Smith, 66, says he’s resigning because his five-year period in the deferred retirement option program is up. Florida Today.

New arts academy: West Boca High School is adding a performing arts academy for the 2016-2017 school year. It will offer classes on the fundamentals of theater and band. Palm Beach Post.

Teachers honored: The Department of Education names 125 Santa Rosa County teachers and 109 in Escambia County as “high impact” teachers. Pensacola News Journal.

Teachers and porn: Two Highlands County teachers are accused of having pornography of students on their phones. Sebring High School language arts teacher Amanda Roser-Cannady resigns, and Bridget Silva, teacher at Avon Park High School, is put on administrative leave pending an investigation. A third teacher, Hill-Gustat Middle School’s Stacy Hooks, was recently arrested for having sex with a 14-year-old. Tampa Tribune. WFLA.

Student arrested: A Gulf High School student is arrested after threatening to shoot someone at the Pasco County school. She said it was meant as a joke. Tampa Tribune.

Guns at school: A Woodlands Middle School student brought a gun to the Lake Worth school Thursday. It was unloaded. Palm Beach Post.

Opinions on schools: There’s no compelling reason to turn the education commissioner’s position into an elected one with Cabinet status. Sun-Sentinel. Computer coding classes should complement, not replace, foreign language classes. Peter Swanson, Sun-Sentinel. The Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP has pressed for better education, and will continue to do so. Isaiah Rumlin, Florida Times-Union. Today’s high school students show a lot of attitude and a little bit of effort. Eric Claire, TCPalm. Increasingly, star athletes are choosing to skip high school sports in order to practice and play with athletes at a high level. It’s a shame, because they’re missing the social side of sports. Larry Savage, Gainesville Sun. The Legislature finally takes a step to end the shell game that surrounds school funding. Ocala Star Banner. Will the teacher bonuses program make it harder to recruit physics teachers? Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.

Student enrichment: Viera High School student Ben Stern talks about his deal with Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban. Florida Today. Tuttle Elementary School will offer the rigorous Cambridge Primary program, starting the next school year. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Nii Soja Torto, a senior at Eastside High School in Gainesville, is one of two state students participating in the U.S. Senate Youth Program in Washington, D.C., next week. Gainesville Sun. A horse-riding program is therapeutic for students at Hillcrest School, a public school for children with severe mental and physical disabilities. Ocala Star Banner. A Panama City high school student wins $30,000 for college in a national essay contest sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars. Grayson Campbell is a senior at Covenant Christian School. Panama City News Herald.

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BY NextSteps staff