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Florida schools roundup: Teacher evaluations, raises, renewals and more

florida-roundup-logoTeacher evaluations: Orange County teachers and school officials agree on a new evaluation process that will drastically increase the number of teachers earning a “highly effective” rating. Teachers need that rating to be eligible for bonuses under the state’s Best and Brightest program. Only 2.4 percent of the district’s 13,000 teachers received highly effective ratings in the 2014-2015 school year. With the changes, as many as 78 percent will. Orlando Sentinel. Not a single Orange or Seminole county teacher will receive an unsatisfactory rating for the 2015-2016 school year. Orlando Sentinel.

Teacher pay raises: The Palm Beach County School Board approves an average 3 percent pay raise for the district’s teachers. Most of the district’s 13,000 teachers will get at least $1,300 more, and some could get as much as $1,700. Starting pay increases slightly from $40,775 to $41,000. The union still has to ratify the agreement. Sun-Sentinel.

Teacher job security: Pasco County School Superintendent Kurt Browning says the move by some districts to guarantee annual contract renewals to teachers with effective or highly effective ratings goes against the legislative intent when tenure was ended. Gradebook.

Sunshine law: The Duval County School Board may have violated the state’s Government in Sunshine law when the board chairwoman called for a closed-door recess where board members discussed their behavior in the public meeting on Tuesday, according to experts. Florida Times-Union.

Donations to schools: Donald Trump’s charitable foundation issued checks totaling at least $20,000 to three Palm Beach County schools whose bands played at a private event at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club. Federal tax rules prohibit foundation money being used for the private benefit of a foundation’s operator. But school officials say the Dwyer High School, Bak Middle School and Boynton Beach High School bands played for free, and the donations were voluntarily made afterward. Palm Beach Post.

Makeup days: Brevard County students won’t have to make up the three days schools were closed when Hurricane Matthew threatened Florida’s east coast earlier this month. Florida Today. Tomorrow, Alachua County students will make up a school day lost to Hurricane Hermine. Friday was supposed to be a teacher workday, with students off. The day lost to Hurricane Matthew will be made up March 31. Gainesville Sun. Marion County school officials propose making up a day lost to Hurricane Hermine on Good Friday, April 14, and the day lost to Hurricane Matthew on May 26. Ocala Star Banner.

Performing arts center: A state-funded performing arts center could be located on the campus of a new high school in the Wesley Chapel area of Pasco County. The new school opens in August, and school officials say the center could be finished by late 2017 or early 2018. Gradebook.

Student transfers: Eighty-eight students take advantage of the state’s opportunity scholarship program and transfer out of four low-performing elementary schools in St. Petersburg. Gradebook.

Anti-bullying mission: Robin Douglas’ mission to stop bullying in schools is picking up momentum through her appearances on behalf of the Lake County Anti Bullying STARS Clap organization and the city of Eustis’ proclamation making October anti-bullying month. Douglas’ son was a daily target for bullies, forcing her to get involved. Daily Commercial.

Handling diversity: Manatee County School Superintendent Diana Greene says the district’s students are handling the diversity they see every day at school “perfectly fine… Our students are much more resilient than we give them credit for,” Greene said at the Manatee Democratic Club on Tuesday. Bradenton Herald.

Coach gets probation: A former coach who was accused of fondling boys on his basketball teams at Hialeah Gardens High School and Mater Academy pleads no contest to felony battery. Javier Alejandro Cuenca, 35, was sentenced to two years of probation. The state attorney’s office said the plea was arranged  “due to factors beyond the control of the state.” Miami Herald.

School fight: Two mothers and several students get into a brawl while waiting in the car line at Cocoa High School on Wednesday. Police arrested one of the moms and two other young adults. Florida TodayOrlando Sentinel.

Students arrested: An 11-year-old sixth-grader at Pine Ridge Middle School is arrested and accused of calling 911 and falsely reporting a shooting at his Collier County school. Naples Daily News. A 15-year-old is arrested after allegedly making a social media threat about a violent clown attack at his school, Merritt Brown Middle. Panama City News Herald.

Opinions on schools: I’m just baffled about how the heck the Sarasota County School Board got comfortable choosing Todd Bowden as the next superintendent without even discussing allegations of sexual harassment against him. Tom Lyons, Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Student enrichment: Students at the Burns Science & Technology Charter School in Oak Hill recently designed and built a 9-hole, 18-tee disc golf course on campus in 10 days. Professional Disc Golf Association. The Plant High School band is the only Florida band invited to the Music for All National Concert at Butler University in Indiana March 9-11. Of the 150-plus bands that applied, only 18 were chosen. WFLA. Wellington High School senior Daniel Clein donates hundreds of pounds of Legos to Palm’s West Hospital. Palm Beach Post. The Lee County School District’s Fit Lab combines fitness and fun in visits to district schools. Fort Myers News-Press.

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BY NextSteps staff