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Florida schools roundup: H.B. 7069, extended days, K-12 school and more

H.B. 7069 lawsuit: The Clay County School Board delays making a decision about joining other districts in suing the state over the new education law, H.B. 7069. Board members cite the expense and possible repercussions. Board member Betsy Condon said she worries about“biting the hand that feeds you,” and thinks there are more collaborative ways to deal with the law than suing. So far, five districts have announced their intent to sue the state. Florida Times-Union.

Extended school days: The Pasco County School District is eliminating extended-day programs for all schools that aren’t required by the state to have longer days due to low reading scores. The move will save the district about $600,000 and leave extended days in place for just four elementary schools that are among the 300 state schools with the lowest reading test scores. Gradebook. Eleven Martin County and four St. Lucie County elementary schools will start 10 minutes earlier this year to give the schools enough time to provide 20 minutes of recess daily or extra reading time to fulfill a state mandate. TCPalm.

K-12 school: The Hamilton County School Board is considering merging the county’s sole elementary school into Hamilton County High School to create a single K-12 school. Superintendent Rex Mitchell says it’s preferable to the options the state has given for the turnaround school by the state – closing the school and having a charter company take over, or sending the students to another school. If the state rejects the merger option, Mitchell says, the district will consider joining the lawsuit against the state over the new education bill, H.B. 7069. Suwannee Democrat.

Project overseer dismissed: The advisory committee chairman of the Miami-Dade School District’s $1.2 billion school improvement plan is dismissed a week after publicly questioning the goal of the project. Ronald Frazier questioned the district’s oversight in meeting requirements for the hiring of small and minority-owned businesses. He said his dismissal is “suspicious,” but district officials say Frazier’s contract had expired in March and was just discovered during a review. Miami Herald.

School impact fees: The Manatee County Commission approves an increase in school impact fees, starting Nov. 13. Right now, 75 percent of the recommended fee is being collected. That will go up to 100 percent in three months. The new impact fees will be $6,127 for a single-family home, $6,471 for a townhome or duplex, $3,502 for a multi-family unit and $1,971 for a manufactured home. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Transgender policy: St. Johns County school officials say they won’t comment on a pending lawsuit on bathroom rights for a transgender teen. But the chairman of the county Republican Party says in an e-mail that a school board member “asked me to get the word out to St. Johns families, that the school district is being sued to force the schools to adopt a transgender bathroom policy.” The board member, Tommy Allen, says he did not authorize the e-mail from Bill Korach and “will continue to decline to publicly comment while the litigation is pending.” St. Augustine Record.

Charter schools: Titusville charter school officials are optimistic that they will be able to correct the problems that caused the school to fail city and county inspections, and will open as scheduled Aug. 10. Legacy Academy Charter School, a pre-K through 6th grade school, has another inspection today. Brevard County School District officials have threatened to terminate the school’s contract. Florida Today. The Marion County School Board gives the Francis Marion Military Academy a year to show academic improvement. If it doesn’t, school board members say, they will recommend the termination of its charter school license. Ocala Star-Banner.

Back to school: Here are four things that are changing for Brevard County students this school year, and one that is not. Florida Today.

Duval spending: In a letter to the Duval County School Board, state Rep. Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville, says he has “deep concern” about the board’s  reluctance to approve an audit of the district’s spending. His call for an audit draws support from state Rep. Kim Daniels, D-Jacksonville. The district spent $21 million more than it was budgeted to during the last school year, but officials say they dipped into the reserves to cover a shortfall in money from the state due to a late dip in enrollment, transportation issues and satisfying state regulations. Florida Politics.

Building question: Okaloosa County school officials are waiting for a report later this month to determine if the district’s administration building can be repaired. The building was shuttered in March due to a series of environmental hazards. Destin Log.

Tech education expansion: The Gulf County School District is planning to place a welding program at Wewahitchka Junior/Senior High School in 2018. The district hopes to duplicate the program that’s at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School. Port St. Joe Star.

Technology expansion: The Flagler County School Board is considering a plan to lease 1,310 iPads for students in kindergarten through 3rd grade. Students in grades 4-6 have access to iPads now, and students in grades 7-12 are given laptops. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Charter keeps schools: The Indiana Board of Education decides not to return three struggling charter schools managed by a Florida company to the Indianapolis School District. Instead, Charter Schools USA will continue running the schools at least through 2020, when the contract expires. WFYI.

Personnel moves: Tom Rompella is named principal of Key West Collegiate Academy, a charter high school. Key West Citizen.

District sued: The Miami-Dade County School District is being sued in federal court for allegedly doing nothing to protect students from a teacher who had sexual relations with eight students at two schools over 14 years. The teacher, Jason Edward Meyers, was arrested in 2016 on a charge of sexual battery against a minor. Miami Herald.

School bus driver arrested: A Clay County school bus driver is arrested and accused of 13 counts of possession of photographs showing sexual performance by a child. Marion Keith Nichols, 56, has been suspended pending the legal outcome of the case. Nichols was a write-in candidate for Clay County school superintendent in 2016. Florida Times-Union. WTLV.

School volunteer arrested: A volunteer is arrested and accused of stealing more than $7,000 from the Southside Elementary Parent Teacher Organization. Police say Tiffani Donovan, 48, deposited funds from the PTO into her personal bank account. She’s been banned from volunteering for the Sarasota County School District during the investigation. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Opinions on schools: It’s possible that improved oversight can achieve the educational ends the NAACP seeks more effectively than a blanket ban of charter schools. Travis Pillow, redefinED. The Pinellas County Commission wisely agrees to slightly increase property taxes so a full-time nurse can be based at every public school in the county. Tampa Bay Times. Cultural competence development in schools is key for addressing the achievement gap. Marie Byrd, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Classroom supplies are vitally important to the future of pre-K students. Chad Loar, Naples Daily News. Little by little, teachers are spending more time managing student activities and less time talking to a whole classroom of students. Students have started to work at their own pace. Robert Lange, Orlando Sentinel. The hacking of the St. Lucie County School District’s Twitter account is a cautionary tale for everyone. TCPalm. Back-to-school is more than just buying paper and pencils. It also means getting your child to school, and supporting the school and teachers. Bay County School Superintendent Bill Husfelt, Panama City News-Herald.

Student enrichment: Steven Li, a senior at Buchholz High School, is one of 100 U.S. students to win an Emperor Science Award, sponsored by PBS LearningMedia and Stand Up to Cancer. The award aims to encourage high-schoolers to consider cancer research careers. Gainesville Sun. The Pinellas County School District launches an initiative to introduce computer coding to kindergarten students. Gradebook. Bay Haven Charter Academy civics teacher Eve VanKley is one of 30 U.S. teachers chosen to attend C-SPAN Classroom’s 2017 Educators’ Conference in Washington, which trains teachers how to enliven sometimes dry civics lessons. Panama City News-Herald.

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BY NextSteps staff