Florida schools roundup: Missing fuel, superintendents, aid forms and more

florida-roundup-logoMissing fuel: More than $500,000 worth of gas and diesel fuel is unaccounted for, taken from Palm Beach County School District gas pumps between 2013 and 2016 at times when the district is closed, an audit disclosed this week. The district’s inspector general said lax controls allow employees to share gas cards, and there are no cameras at the pumps. Sun-Sentinel.

Superintendent evaluations: Broward County School Board members give Superintendent Robert Runcie the most critical evaluation in his five-year tenure. Three of the nine members give Runcie a “needs improvement” grade, and two others scored him below average in several areas. They cited problems with school morale, lagging construction projects and the police department budget. Runcie graded himself “highly effective,” as did two board members. Sun-Sentinel. The Lake County School District has had a tough year, with dropping grades, graduation rates and a controversy over teacher evaluations. But Superintendent Susan Moxley still receives a favorable evaluation. Daily Commercial.

Aid paperwork: College-bound high school students now have extra time to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The form will be made available Saturday, three months early. Orlando Sentinel. Miami Herald.

Extra hour dispute: A mother in Pasco County is angry that her son, an above-average reader, is forced to stay an extra hour at school because the school as a whole graded poorly on the state’s reading tests. State law allows opt-outs only for students who score 5 on the test. Cathy DiBona’s son scored 3. School district officials say they are abiding by the law, so DiBona says she’ll lobby state lawmakers for relief. Gradebook.

District lawsuit: The Department of Justice urges a federal court to deny the Collier County School District’s request to dismiss a lawsuit that claims the district illegally barred some immigrant children with limited English skills from attending district high schools. The suit was launched by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Naples Daily NewsSouthern Poverty Law Center.

Anthem protest: The National Coalition Against Censorship is asking the Collier County School District to drop its demand that students get permission from a parent if they wish to kneel during the national anthem at school events. National Coalition Against Censorship.

School threats: A Sarasota County student’s statement on Twitter that he “can’t WAIT to shoot up my school” is not a criminal threat under state law, an appeals court rules. The student posted the tweets in 2014. The three justices also urged the Legislature to consider updating the law on violent threats. News Service of Florida.

School rezonings: Attendance boundaries would be switched for several Wesley Chapel schools under a proposed rezoning to alleviate overcrowding at several schools. Several of the subdivisions affected are expected to protest. Tampa Bay Times.

New computers: The Santa Rosa School District will be spending more than $1 million for computers and support to meet the state requirement of having enough equipment to give the Florida Standards Assessments tests to an entire grade level at the same time. The tests are next spring. Gulf Breeze News.

Student health: A group of health officials from several agencies are urging Leon County school officials to encourage healthier eating. They told the school board that in some county schools, more than 40 percent of students are overweight and obese. WFSU. After a delay of several months, a community health center at Rickards High School opens Monday. The center will treat insured and uninsured students and residents in the area. WFSU.

Flags controversies: A group of mostly black Manatee High School students hold a peaceful protest at the school after a student brought a Confederate flag to school as part of Spirit Week. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Several students at Pasco County’s Wiregrass Ranch High School are disciplined for wearing inappropriate costumes to school. Several wore sheets resembling the ones worn by the Ku Klux Klan, and another wore a Confederate flag. WFLA.

School elections: Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons apologizes to opponent Rocky Hanna for a campaign ad that focused on a paternity suit against Hanna. Hanna accepts the apology, but adds: “As far as accepting an apology, I question the motivation, like I’m sure many in the community do. But I’m a forgiving person. I’m going to accept the apology, but I will never forget the pain he’s caused to me and my little girl.” Tallahassee Democrat.

Playoffs moved: The ACC has moved its championship football game Dec. 3 to Orlando’s Camping World Stadium from North Carolina, which means a change for the high school championship games. All eight games will now be played between Dec. 8 and 10. Orlando Sentinel. Tampa Bay Times.

Clown threat: A Largo High School student tells deputies that a man wearing a clown mask, shoes and a polka dot outfit chased her briefly at her school bus stop. Tampa Bay Times.

Guns at school: Two Rockledge High School students are arrested when authorities find a stolen gun in the car they were in on campus. Florida Today.

Opinions on schools: The Christian school that is suing because it wasn’t permitted to broadcast a prayer over the loudspeaker before a playoff football game has little prayer of winning. Joe Henderson, tbo.com. We need to take action now to attract more young people to the teaching profession and to keep them in the classroom. Bill Heller, Tampa Bay Times. It’s not quite October yet, but it’s not too soon for the parents of 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th graders to be thinking about what courses their students should be taking next year. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.

Student enrichment: Two fifth-graders from Bryant Elementary School, Chase Hartman and Vance Tomasi, held a book drive this summer that collects 800 books that they’re donating to Woodbridge Elementary School. Gradebook. Hillary Clinton wins a close race in a mock election by Brevard County fifth-graders. Florida Today.

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BY NextSteps staff