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Florida schools roundup: Trump’s budget, recess, charter district and more

Trump’s school choice push: President Donald Trump’s first budget calls for $1.4 billion to be set aside to expand school choice, even as it cuts the overall Department of Education budget by $9 billion, or 13 percent. The federal Charter Schools Program would be boosted by 50 percent, and Trump also calls for an increase of $1 billion in Title 1 spending for high-poverty schools to provide services for low-income students. Notable cuts are in teacher training, after-school and extended-day programs, and programs for students on military bases, Native American reservations and other federal lands that are not on local tax rolls. redefinED. U.S. News & World Report. Huffington Post. Education Week. THE Journal. Miami-Dade County schools would lose about $40 million under the Trump budget, says Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, and he figures Broward County would lose about $25 million. WTVJ.

Mandatory recess: The Senate Appropriations Committee approves a bill that would require 20 minutes of daily recess in the state’s elementary schools. The bill now moves to the full Senate for a vote. The House’s identical bill has yet to get a committee hearing. Gradebook. Florida Politics. Tampa Bay Times.

Charter district: The Jefferson County School Board votes Tuesday on a charter school company’s application to take over the operation of the struggling district schools. Somerset Academy was the only company that made a presentation that had “a record of effectiveness with similar student demographics” to Jefferson County, where most students are low-income minorities, according to the Florida Department of Education. Somerset is a nonprofit network associated with the management company Academica. It runs 50 schools with nearly 17,600 students. redefinED.

District audit: A state audit finds fault with the Brevard County School District on four points: paying $150,000 over three years to the Brevard Schools Foundation for administrative expenses, not performing routine background checks on 27 teachers, awarding state teacher bonuses to eight ineligible teachers, and allowing transportation employees unsupervised access to inventory. Superintendent Desmond Blackburn says state law does not prohibit payments to the foundation, and the other three items are being corrected. Florida Today.

Budget concerns: Putnam County parents express concerns for their schools after Superintendent Rick Surrency detailed layoffs and other cutbacks he’s recommending to the school board. Jobs of reading coaches, media specialists, two district police positions and possibly one school police officer would be cut as the district tries to reduce the budget by $1.5 million. Surrency says he expects “catastrophic cuts” in money from the state, and his recommendations are needed to allow the district to maintain the state-required reserve fund. WJAX. WTLV.

Jenkins’ reflections: Florida’s superintendent of the year, Barbara Jenkins of Orange County, says she took the advice of a mentor to move into administration to have “an impact on larger and larger groups of children.” Even as she mentors other women to move into administration, she says some may be deterred by the high profile of top jobs and the time demands. Education Dive.

Florida PTA outreach: The state PTA is using $150,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to start a series of public discussions in Hillsborough County on educational inequality. Other counties with similar campaigns include Miami-Dade, Broward, Duval, Orange, Pinellas and Leon. Tampa Bay Times.

Costly moves: Moving the Adult and Continuing Education program to Lively Tech and the Pace Secondary School into the ACE’s old location will cost about $454,000 and will be paid from the Leon County School District’s reserves, says Superintendent Rocky Hanna. Tallahassee Democrat.

Settlement talks: Negotiations continue between the St. Lucie County School District and the family of a 9-year-old boy killed in a 2012 school bus crash. While the sides try to come to an agreement, a bill in the Legislature asking for $8.7 million for the parents has been put on hold. The Legislature must approve any settlement in which a government agency is paying out more than $300,000. Aaron Beauchamp died when his school bus and a tractor-trailer collided. A jury found the school district 87 percent at fault due to the driver’s actions, and awarded the family $8.7 million in 2015. TCPalm.

Response investigated: The Seminole County School District is investigating whether employees followed the treatment plan established in case of an emergency for a student with Marfan’s syndrome. Bryant Hawkins, 16, collapsed and died at Lyman High School about a year ago, and his mother questions how the school reacted to the emergency. WFTV.

Identity theft victims: At least three Manatee County school employees have reported that they are victims of identity theft after the district mistakenly sent employees’ W-2 forms to hackers earlier this year. Bradenton Herald.

‘Touching’ policy: A woman whose son was “inappropriately touched” by another boy in a bathroom at Kate Sullivan Elementary School wanted the boy removed from her son’s classroom. She’s told that the Leon County School District’s policy would require her son to change classrooms if she didn’t want them together. “It is not fair to require that my (child) has to deal with a transition because he was a victim, as a transition at this time may present further harm,” the mother wrote in an email to school officials. Tallahassee Democrat.

Bullying lawsuit: Parents who say their daughter was bullied at a St. Petersburg private school are suing the school and the parents of the alleged bully. Tracy and Jared Samon say the bullying of their daughter at Lutheran Church of the Cross Day School has continued despite their complaints. Tampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools: Here are six priorities for the St. Lucie County School District to consider over the next five years. Laurence Reisman, TCPalm.

Student enrichment: Two ninth-graders at Palmetto High School will brief the Manatee County Health Department Monday about their research into a vaccine for diabetes. Angelique Caouette, 15, and Sophia Cardillo, 14, developed the design for a nanobot vaccine in their biomedical science class. Bradenton Herald. Students from St. Joseph Academy in St. Augustine work on a Habitat for Humanity house as part of the school’s Mission Week. St. Augustine Record. Students at the Tom P. Haney Technical Center in Panama City renovate a boat for a classmate whose foot was amputated after a skateboarding accident. Panama City News Herald.

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BY NextSteps staff