Florida schools roundup: Superintendent a finalist, religious banners and more

florida-roundup-logoSuperintendent honored: Barbara Jenkins, superintendent of the Orange County School District, is one of four finalists for the national superintendent of the year award given by the American Association of School Administrators. The winner will be announced March 2. Last month, Jenkins was named Florida’s superintendent of the year for 2017. Orlando Sentinel.

Satanic banner denied: The Palm Beach County School District temporarily bans the hanging of advertising banners on school fences by religious organizations. The decision came after the Church of Satanology and Perpetual Soirée wanted to hang a banner alongside others on a fence at Boca Raton High School. That request came a few days after a teacher placed a Satanic display in a park. Sun-Sentinel.

School impact fee: The Pasco County School Board is asking county commissioners to increase the school impact fee from $4,800 to $9,174 per single-family detached house. If approved, the higher fee would generate $245 million over the next 10 years and would help pay for new schools. Tampa Bay Times.

Administrators backed: The Broward County School Board approves a transfer for a former Miramar High School principal and rejects a recommendation to suspend the school’s assistant principal. Both were implicated for their failure to stop cheating, questionable grade changes and favoritism toward football players at the school in 2014. Sun-Sentinel.

Lawsuit settled: The Seminole County School Board agrees to pay $200,000 to the family of an autistic boy who was beaten on a school bus in 2013 while the adult monitor ignored the attack. Orlando Sentinel.

State grant for board: The Florida Coalition of School Board Members lobbied the state budget-makers to include a $200,000 grant for virtual training for school board members, then decided not to apply for it. FCSBM officials said the training was too broad. Two other organizations have applied, including the FCSBM’s rival organization, the Florida School Boards Association. Politico Florida.

Legislative issues: The Manatee County School Board asks its legislative delegation for greater discretion in spending on school construction, testing relief for students and a better teacher evaluation system. Bradenton Times. Bradenton Herald.

Virtual charter concerns: Pasco County School Board members have put the Florida Virtual Academy of Pasco on notice that its poor performance must be improved if it wants to keep its charter. The school got a grade of “incomplete” from the state. Just 37 percent of its students were performing at grade level in language arts and only 22 percent in math. Gradebook.

Employees honored: The Pasco Education Foundation announces finalists for teacher of the year and the top administrator, school-related professional and noninstructional, nonbargaining employee. The winners will be announced Jan. 27. Gradebook.

Graduation rates: High school graduation rates are up for a seventh straight year in Escambia County, and now stand at 76.1 percent, and a fifth straight year in Santa Rosa County, which had a 2016 rate of 85.7 percent. Pensacola News Journal.

School traffic light: The Florida Department of Transportation says a traffic light will be installed near Allen D. Nease High School before the next school year. The intersection of U.S. 1 and Ray Road has been the site of many accidents involving students. St. Augustine Record.

Opinions on schools: A bill in the Florida House of Representatives to allow charter-school students to participate in extracurricular activities at private schools may not affect a great number of students, but it shows why school-choice measures accomplish exactly what their critics say they fail to do. Paul Crookston, National Review. How dare those radical subversives on the Florida Supreme Kangaroo Court apply the state Constitution to rule that public money ought not be drained away from public schools to help bolster the bottom lines of private schools, which aren’t even required to meet the same accountability standards as public schools? Daniel Ruth, Tampa Bay Times. It often seems that the architecture of a public school and its surrounding environment are given very little thought, as if it really doesn’t matter. In fact, the school environment is much more important than it is given credit for. Bill Hoatson, Tallahassee Democrat. Thanks to the commendable patriotic initiative of a student in Carol Nicholas’ Leadership Skills class at the Academy of Environmental Science and the civic- minded response of donors, the U.S. flag will soon fly again at the school. Citrus County Chronicle. In a year that most down at Polk County Public Schools headquarters would like to forget, it’s beneficial to end on a high note with improving graduation rates. Lakeland Ledger.

Student enrichment: Manatee County School District social workers present gifts to more than 400 students in their annual Giving Tree gift giveaway. Bradenton Herald. The Palmetto Ridge High School marching band will march in the 2017 Inaugural Parade next month. Naples Daily News. Flagler Palm Coast High School band director John Seth is named one of “50 Directors Who Make a Difference” by School Band and Orchestra Magazine. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Four students at Wiregrass Ranch High School are honored for helping their school bus driver when she became ill on the way to school. Carlos Fuentes, Chase Kirkland, Alexis Wilson and Alexys Armentrout quickly helped Janet Wood and called radioed dispatch for help. WFLA.

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BY NextSteps staff