Florida schools roundup: School growth, funding issues, fighting and more

florida-roundup-logoDistrict growth: Rapid growth is putting a strain on the Volusia County School District. Officials say more than a quarter of the county’s schools are over capacity, and the district expects an additional 1,300 students in August. Daytona Beach News-Journal. The St. Johns County School Board and district officials are making plans to deal with expected growth that is at least partially spurred by the state’s new open enrollment law. St. Augustine Record.

Charter school growth: The latest report on student migration in Hillsborough County shows that charter middle and K-8 schools are growing rapidly and, in some cases, that is eroding diversity in the district schools the children leave behind. Gradebook.

Funding problems: The Hernando County School District has tightened spending to bring its financial reserves to the level required by state law. That’s led to schools hiring fewer substitutes and having more split classes as students of absent teachers are distributed to other teachers’ classes. Tampa Bay Times.

Fighting in schools: Parents, community leaders and school officials meet to talk about solutions to the recent outburst of fights at Leesburg High School. “What is going on in the Leesburg community that is fraying the social fabric of the lives of our students, our community’s most valuable asset?” asked moderator Sheila Smalley. Daily Commercial. Two students are arrested and three are hospitalized after a fight in the lunchroom at Edgewater High School in Orlando. The fight began between two girls. When they wouldn’t stop, a school resource officer used pepper spray to break it up. Orlando Sentinel.

Superintendent’s book: A book written by Alachua County School Superintendent Owen Roberts is raising questions about plagiarism. Two experts say the book, A Framework for Improving School Systems in the 21st Century, uses large portions of text from other sources verbatim. That strays from academic norms, they say. Roberts says it’s not plagiarism because he made references to authors before starting passages and listed their resources in the bibliography. Gainesville Sun.

School suspensions: Chamberlain High School has the most suspensions of five days or more in Hillsborough County with 121, according to a district report. Gradebook.

FCA reps trained: Fifteen representatives from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes are trained  on what they can and cannot do in their partnerships with public schools. Hillsborough County school coaches and other employees will also attend training sessions. The training was ordered by the district after it was discovered that an FCA representative was proselytizing regularly at five high schools despite being untrained and having a criminal record. Gradebook.

New union president: Wendy Doromal, a Timber Creek High School service learning teacher, is elected president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association. She won 67.5 percent of the vote and will serve three years. The union’s previous president was removed by the American Federation of Teachers, which accused her of defying the rules and trampling on members’ rights. Orlando Sentinel.

Teacher honored: Judy Gelber, a teacher at I-Preparatory Academy in Miami-Dade, is one of three educators named to C-SPAN’s 2016 Teacher Fellowship Program. Gelber, who teaches AP and honors U.S. History and U.S. government and politics, as well as honors economics to high school students, will help develop C-SPAN lesson plans. Miami Herald.

School for disabled: Century Academy LLC, which will specialize in teaching children diagnosed with autism and other related learning disabilities, opens in August in Century. It’s a private, nonprofit K-12 school. Pensacola News Journal.

Coach arrested: A baseball coach at North Miami High School has been arrested and accused of having sex with a minor. A 17-year-old girl told police that Brandon Marquis Washington, 31, forced her to have sex. Washington has been fired from the part-time job, say Miami-Dade school officials. Miami Herald.

Opinions on schools: With so many real problems, the Lake County School Board doesn’t need to spend time, energy and taxpayer money on issues such as who should strap handicapped children into the seats on the bus this summer and watch them as they travel. Lauren Ritchie, Orlando Sentinel. Our country has devalued one of its most valuable and critical professions. That’s why I’m excited to see the launch of the TeachStrong campaign, which is a collaboration between a diverse group of education organizations aimed to modernize and elevate the teaching profession. Judy Bransford, Orlando Sentinel. Florida doesn’t know what it takes to cure its school inequity problem because it’s never approached an education budget using a needs-based model. Julie Delegal, Flagler Live. Getting to know someone who is different from yourself teaches tolerance and patience, writes a Miami Palmetto Senior High School student with autism. Connor Cunningham, Miami Herald. A fight between two girls at Central Middle School prompts a question: Why are girls so mean? Jessica Saggio, Florida Today. Our school system’s mission should be education, and resources should be targeted toward that. For sports, the boosters, alumni and parents should make an effort to see that coaches are better compensated. Lakeland Ledger.

 Student enrichment: Pasco County’s Longleaf Elementary School is one of 14 Florida public schools to be named a model arts school by the Florida Alliance for Arts Education. Longleaf was selected for its “outstanding programs in music and visual arts.” Tampa Bay Times. Forty juniors and seniors from Sarasota, Booker, Venice and Riverview high schools are honored at the Sarasota County School District’s 18th annual Most Improved Student Awards luncheon. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Dunnellon High School students get on-the-job training running the school’s “Tiger’s Den Cafe” as part of the school’s Culinary Arts program. Ocala Star Banner. Flagler Palm Coast High School opens the Hangar, an aviation lab that adds to the school’s aeronautics flagship program. Daytona Beach News-Journal. The Citrus County School District honors its top scholars. Citrus County Chronicle.

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BY NextSteps staff