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Florida schools roundup: Guns and recess in schools, new leader and more

florida-roundup-logoGuns, recess in schools: A majority of Floridians support trained staff carrying guns in schools, and an overwhelmingly number back a requirement of 20 minutes of daily recess for elementary students, according to a USF-Nielsen Sunshine State survey. Villages-News. Politico Florida. Sunshine State News. WJXT. News Service of Florida.

New superintendent: Todd Bowden, the 45-year-old executive director of Career, Technical and Adult Education for Sarasota County and director of Suncoast Technical College, is chosen to be Sarasota County’s next school superintendent. He will succeed Lori White, who is retiring in February. The school board preferred Bowden to Brennan Asplen III, the superintendent for Academic and Student Services in St. Johns County, and Mark Porter, superintendent in Monroe County. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Bradenton Herald.

Board squabbles: The Duval County School Board’s discussion of disappointing test results by the district’s International Baccalaureate classes students turns angry, with a 20-minute recess called to break up the shouting. Several members say the poor test results at non-magnet IB programs could be a result of inexperienced teachers, while others think the board is making excuses for the poor results. At one point, board member Becki Couch told fellow member Cheryl Grymes to quit staring at her. Florida Times-Union.

Teacher complaints: Broward County teachers tell the school board that they are overworked and bullied. Teachers made the appearance to protest the district’s $300,000 proposal to buy software that will train them on a new instructional method. The program is voluntary, but teachers worry it will be made mandatory. Sun-Sentinel.

Makeup days: St, Johns County school officials have decided students won’t have to make up the three days schools were closed when Hurricane Matthew moved up the east coast of Florida earlier this month. Duval County schools will make up the three days lost, officials say, on Jan. 5 and 6, and April 13. WJAX. St. Augustine Record. Volusia County schools lost five days of classtime to hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, and that time will be made up. Students will be in school Friday, a previously scheduled day off, for full days on five previously scheduled early-release days, and possibly on Presidents Day Feb. 20. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Portable classrooms: The Lake County School Board recently adopted a pay-as-you-go approach to building new schools instead of borrowing money. Now the district is faced with buying or leasing portable classrooms to handle its growing school enrollment. Daily Commercial.

School property: The Miami-Dade County School Board is trying to sell property in downtown Miami in exchange for cash to build a new school board office building or for 180,000 square feet of office space. The district’s property near the Adrienne Arsht Center is currently being used as a parking lot. Miami Herald.

Funding shortage: Revenues for the Pasco County School District are likely to fall more than $400 million short of what’s needed for construction and maintenance over the next 10 years, the district’s chief financial officer is reporting. Estimated needs total $1.33 billion, and even optimistic estimates project revenue of just $900 million available for those projects. Gradebook.

Principals honored: Nine state principals are selected to receive a Florida TaxWatch Principal Leadership Award for their effectiveness at getting improved reading and math results from students in high-risk schools. Three winners will be announced Nov. 17. Florida Trend.

Girl, mother struck: A girl and her mother are hit by an SUV and seriously injured while walking to a school bus stop. Consuelo Cristanos, 41, was walking her 13-year-old daughter, a Dundee Ridge Middle School student, and two other children to the bus stop. Cristanos and another daughter, 7-year-old Esmeralda Garcia, were hit and are in critical condition. The Polk County sheriff’s office is investigating. WFLA.

Schools threat: A 30-year-old Florida man is arrested and accused of making threats to launch ISIS attacks at schools and military bases near Pensacola. Regis L. Walker allegedly wrote a letter and mailed it to the Escambia County sheriff in June.

Opinions on schools: Job 1 for incoming School Superintendent Todd Bowden is to maintain the Sarasota district’s A rating from state government, while intensifying its focus on low-achieving students. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. One of the most important things that any school can teach its children is civics: a deep understanding and appreciation for how our government, our democracy, works. Bill Hoatson, Tallahassee Democrat.

Student enrichment: A group of Miami-Dade seventh-graders contributes to one of the first STEAM-focused musicals in the country, Kitty Hawk, about the Wright brothers and the first flight. Miami Herald. Fifth-graders at Colonial Elementary School in Fort Myers vote for president in a mock election. Democrat Hillary Clinton received 89 percent of the vote, and Libertarian Gary Johnson finished second. Fort Myers News-Press. Students at several Miami-Dade schools help collect supplies for the Haiti hurricane relief effort. Miami Herald. The Collier County Scholarship Connector matches high school students with scholarships based on eligibility. Naples Daily News. Students at Sealey Elementary School in Tallahassee take an walk to discover the city’s artwork. Tallahassee Democrat. Students at Deer Haven Elementary School are helping design the play area in what will become the Lynn Haven Bayou Park and Preserve behind the school. Panama City News Herald.

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BY NextSteps staff