Next steps logo

Florida schools roundup: Homework, new tests, spending oversight and more

florida-roundup-logoHomework fight: Miami-Dade teachers and parents spar at a school board meeting over the amount of homework students are being given. Parents say too much is being assigned, cutting into family time. Teachers say the homework is needed because testing takes too much instruction time away from students. Miami Herald.

Testing transformation: Pinellas County school officials say younger students at struggling elementary schools are doing much better in new literacy tests than students in third, fourth and fifth grades. The differences are most apparent on language arts tests. Officials credit the use of biweekly tests, which are helping teachers see how well they’ve taught to the state standards and to catch students’ weaknesses earlier. Tampa Bay Times.

Spending oversight: The Broward County School District is asking the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Education to oversee the district’s spending of $800 million it is receiving from a voter-approved bond to renovate schools. Sun-Sentinel.

Students from Cuba: The Miami-Dade County School District is preparing for a “potential influx of child and adult learners” emigrating from Cuba after the death of Fidel Castro on Friday, says Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. CNN.

Education secretary: Betsy DeVos, a strong advocate of school choice with deep Florida ties, is nominated to be President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of education. redefinED. News Talk Florida. Politico Florida. Education Week. Groups that oppose the Common Core school standards are unhappy with the selection of DeVos as education secretary, even though she is now saying she does not support the standards. Sunshine State News. What will education in Florida look like with Donald Trump as president? Tampa Bay Times.

School choice case: State officials and parents of Florida students who receive tax credit scholarships are asking the state Supreme Court to decline to hear an appeal by several groups that sued the state over the constitutionality of the program. The Florida Education Association and other groups have already lost two lower court rulings because judges say the group have no standing to sue. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the tax credit scholarship program. redefinEDNews Service of Florida.

Open enrollment: Broward County school officials say no out-of-county students will be accepted into any school that is 102 percent of capacity or higher next year when open enrollment begins. And some less-crowded schools with specific programs for specific students may also be off-limits. Sun-Sentinel.

College preparation: A study by the Florida Department of Education indicates that many central Florida high school graduates are ill-prepared for college and struggle with the more stringent academic demands. Orlando Sentinel.

Accelerated math: An accelerated program in about half of Palm Beach County’s elementary schools will let some students complete three years of math in two school years. Palm Beach Post.

Shared facilities: The Pasco County School District and government officials agree to work together to share facilities. Gradebook.

Charter school: The Monroe County School Board approves a charter middle school at Florida Keys Community College on Stock Island. The school will be associated with the Key West Collegiate Academy, which is run by Somerset Academy Inc. under Academica. Keynoter.

Preschool reading: A pilot program will boost the number of words preschoolers in Escambia County hear every day. Early Learning Coalition officials hope the emphasis will boost kindergarten readiness rates. Pensacola News Journal.

After-school program: The Milton City Council plans to start an after-school program for middle school children in January. The program, called Camp Fire, could work on students’ communication skills and problem-solving techniques, and help students with homework. Santa Rosa Post-Gazette.

New meeting time: The Bay County School Board changes its meeting time to 1 p.m. Poor audience prompted a switch a year ago to 4 p.m., but there was no improvement in turnout. Panama City News Herald.

Teachers honored: Six teachers are named finalists for Lee County teacher of the year. They are Jennifer Tomlinson, Fort Myers High School; Robyn Heller, Caloosa Elementary School; Elisa Scherff, Cypress Lake High School; Denise Fenicle, North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts; Katie Riemenschneider, Heights Elementary IB World School; and Joseph Camputaro, Manatee Elementary School. The winner will be chosen Dec. 13. Fort Myers News-Press.

Superintendent’s plan: New Clay County School Superintendent Addison Davis outlines his three top areas of focus: Finances, curriculum and the district’s culture and climate. Florida Times-Union.

Superintendent reflects: Outgoing Marion County School Superintendent George Tomyn says he’s proud that district graduation rates improved and student participation in Advanced Placement exams doubled during his four-year tenure. Ocala Star Banner.

Pons wants to stay: Former Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons’ request to return to standard district employment after his election loss may be complicated by an ongoing investigation into his conduct. Pons was a principal before being elected superintendent in 2006. Tallahassee Democrat.

Board chairman’s plan: Marc Dodd, the new chairman of the Lake County School Board, says the district’s goals are to hire a great superintendent, push more money into the schools’ classrooms and less into administration and support, and improve the graduation rate. Daily Commercial.

School board members: New Brevard County School Board member Tina Descovich says the district needs to cut back on testing and tighten spending. Florida Today. Misty Belford is the new chairwoman of the Brevard County School Board. Florida Today. Retiring Pasco County School Board member Joanne Hurley is honored for her eight years of service. Tampa Bay Times. Bay County School Board members and Superintendent Bill Husfelt are sworn in. Panama City News Herald.

Attorney resigns: Wes Bridges, the Polk County School Board’s attorney for the past 18 years, is resigning to take a similar job in Portland, Ore. His wife Carolyn Bridges, the school district’s senior director of acceleration and innovation, is not resigning immediately. Lakeland Ledger.

Notable deaths: Louise Jones Gopher, a longtime educator for the Seminole Tribe of Florida and a leading proponent of the tribe’s first charter school in 2007, has died at the age of 71. Glades County Democrat.

School expansion: Admiral Farragut Academy, a private school in St. Petersburg, launches a drive to raise $4 million to build a multipurpose student center. Tampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools: Overtesting, the federal government’s role in education and school choice are sure to be discussed thoroughly under Betsy DeVos’ leadership at the U.S. Department of Education. It’s about time. Lawrence Reisman, TCPalm. Tobacco Free Florida is truly a public health success story with a positive, life-saving impact on so many Floridians, especially young people. Celeste Philip, Tallahassee Democrat. Sometimes I overhear people talking about how bad kids are these days. They don’t see what I see, however. As a first-year teacher, I see the brilliant and amazing eyes of hundreds of children who have come of age in a country that hasn’t known peace in their lifetime. Christopher R. Barnhart, Orlando Sentinel. The Gainesville Chamber of Commerce would be providing a service to the community to take a comprehensive approach in trying to solve our community’s school facilities problem and not shy away from controversial options. Gainesville Sun. STEM advocate Ginger Littleton’s election to the chair of the Bay County School Board is a sign the district is aiming for great things. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.

Student enrichment: Julia Kourelakos, an eighth-grader at the Pine View School, scores a perfect 36 on the American College Testing exam. “This is a very, very rare thing,” says Edward Colby, director for media communications for the ACT. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Students at the Academy for International Education Charter School in Miami Springs donate 2,773 food items for needy families. Miami Herald. Students at Holy Family Catholic School in Orlando get a six-week course on etiquette. Orlando Sentinel.

Avatar photo

BY NextSteps staff