Florida schools roundup: Help for failing schools, H.B. 7069 challenge and more

Help for failing schools: Ninety-three failing Florida schools can apply to the state for up to $2,000 more per student to fund such services as after-school programs and community partnerships, the Department of Education announces. The schools are eligible through the “schools of hope” provision of H.B. 7069 because they have received grades below a C from the state for the past two years. They have less than a month to apply, and only 25 will get the money because of a cap limiting payouts to $58 million of the $140 million set aside by the law. The rest will go to charter schools that set up within 5 miles of the failing schools. Miami Herald.

H.B. 7069 suit: The Palm Beach County School Board votes unanimously to support a proposal to sue the state over the new education law, H.B. 7069. Board attorneys were directed to research the best way to challenge the law, which increases money for charter schools at the expense of traditional public schools and limits local districts’ authority over charters. Board members say they may not join a proposed lawsuit by Broward and St. Lucie counties. Board member Frank Barbieri says separate suits could make a defense harder for the state. “If we are going to sue, which we certainly should, we should make it as difficult and painful for the state Legislature as they have made it for us to operate this school district, the highest performing large urban school district in Florida,” he said. Palm Beach Post. Sun Sentinel. The Florida Charter School Alliance says Palm Beach County Superintendent Robert Avossa signaled an intention to “wage war” on charter schools when he urged the school board to join the lawsuit. Lynn Norman-Teck, executive director of the alliance, says the board should remember that charter schools and their students are in the public school system. Palm Beach Post.

Duval may join suit: Duval County School Board members ask Jacksonville’s city attorney to investigate how much it would cost to sue the state over H.B. 7069 or join the current movement toward a suit by Broward and St. Lucie counties, the likelihood of success, and whether the city would join the board in the suit. At least six Duval schools are in danger of being closed or turned over to charter companies under the new law. Other districts that have discussed joining the suit are Pinellas, Palm Beach, Sarasota, Manatee and Alachua. Florida Times-UnionWJCTWJXT.

Daily recess: Palm Beach County school officials are trying to figure out how to set aside 20 minutes a day for recess while also allowing 20 minutes a day for lunch, 90 minutes a day for reading, 150 minutes a week for physical education, plus art, music and library time. Some of the mothers who have been pushing for recess say other districts whose school days are also 6 hours and 5 minutes long have found a way to make it work. Angela Browning of Orlando, one of those so-called “recess moms” who pushed the cause, says she doesn’t care whether recess is inside or outside, and is happy that school superintendents have to sign compliance forms for the state by Sept. 1. Palm Beach Post.

School closing: Odyssey Middle School in Boynton Beach will be closed after the coming school year, Palm Beach County School Board members decide. It will be the first public school closing in the county for about a quarter-century. The school opened in 2001 to relieve overcrowding. But discipline problems, lack of magnet programs, poor test scores and the opening of a charter school nearby led to declining enrollment that was about half of what it once was. Sun Sentinel.

Charter appeals: A charter school that was ordered closed by the Florida Department of Education after a second straight year with an F grade from the state is appealing its 2016-2017 grade. Orange Park Performing Arts Academy officials say they missed a D by just two points based on Florida Standards Assessments results. Founder and school board chairwoman Alesia Ford-Burse says she’s confident the appeal will earn the school a D and a reprieve from closing, but if it fails she says the academy will reopen as a private school. Clay Today.

Pitch for a pool: Marathon School Board members are presented three options for using land adjacent to Marathon Middle-High School. One of the options would use all the land for parking and athletic fields, and the other two would leave enough space for a community pool the city council would like to build there. The board will study the options and make a decision at a later meeting. Key West Citizen.

Personalized learning: Michael D’Armond, an education research analyst who has helped implement personalized learning at schools around the United States, talks about the learning method in a Q&A. redefinED.

Personnel moves: Frank Brogan, chancellor of the Pennsylvania state university system who previously held the same job in Florida, resigned this week after a consultant’s report said his agency was “plagued by weak leadership and dysfunctional management.” The 14-university system has seen declining enrollment and financial problems. Sunshine State News. The Odyssey Academy, a private school for Hatian students in Tamarac, is getting a new principal before it even opens. Yudit Silva was hired, but school founder Pastor Caleb Deliard severed ties with her after discovering an audit that alleged irregularities at a charter school Silva once led. WTVJ. The Hillsborough County School Board approves the appointment of five principals. Gradebook.

Educators honored: Rick Fleming, of West Shore Junior-Senior High School, is named Brevard County principal of the year. Candace Jones of Hans Christian Andersen Elementary School is assistant principal of the year. Space Coast Daily.

Crossing guards needed: The Orange County Sheriff’s Department still needs about 50 school crossing guards for nine elementary and middle schools before school resumes Aug. 14. Orlando Sentinel.

Middle school sports: Eight sports will be offered for Flagler County middle-schoolers under an agreement between the school district and the Police Athletic League. Sheriff Rick Staly said the programs will keep youngsters busy after school and will provide “an opportunity for deputies and community volunteers and coaches to mentor our youth and prepare them at the middle school level for what they are about to face when they get to high school.” Daytona Beach News-Journal. Flagler Live.

Student’s conviction tossed: The 4th District Court of Appeal rules that a charge of “disrupting an educational institution” should have been dismissed against an Indian River County student who was in a brief fight before school. News Service of Florida.

Band teacher arrested: A band teacher at Lake Minneola High School is arrested and accused of having a sexual relationship in 2015 and 2016 with one of his students. Jon North, 32, resigned his job, and police say both he and the student acknowledged the activity. Daily Commercial. Orlando Sentinel.

Teacher, preschool sued: A second family is suing a Baldwin Park preschool and a teacher for the alleged sexual abuse of their son. Named in the suit are teacher Jayrico Hamilton, who has not been charged with a crime, and Bright Horizons Children’s Centers. The first suit was filed June 1. Orlando Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: The charges at Francis Marion Military Academy are egregious and suggest there is a broken culture at the school, and at the very least demand sweeping changes in the charter school’s management, maybe even closure. Ocala Star Banner.

Student enrichment: A Florida State University Panama City summer camp is using dance and forensic crime-solving as ways to get students interested in physics. Panama City News Herald.

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BY NextSteps staff