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Florida schools roundup: Schools of Hope, and Excellence, charters and more

‘Schools of Hope’ rules: No charter school companies have yet applied to the Florida Department of Education to become “Schools of Hope.” Part of the reason is that no rules have been established for the program, which offers financial incentives for charter schools to move into areas where traditional public schools have struggled persistently. Adam Miller, the director of the state’s school choice office, says the first round of rules is expected to be published in time for the Florida Board of Education to consider at its November meeting. redefinED. The state Board of Education will wait until its next meeting Oct. 18 to announce the public schools that will receive $2,000 more per student under the “Schools of Hope” legislation. The Legislature set aside $51.5 million for up to 25 schools, and 50 applied. Gradebook. No charter school conversions are on the agenda for next week’s Florida Board of Education meeting. redefinED.

‘Schools of Excellence’: Six hundred and forty Florida schools in 44 counties are designated by the Florida Department of Education as “Schools of Excellence.” The designation allows the schools to calculate class size by a schoolwide average, set daily start and finish times separate from the district, ignore the state’s minimum reading requirements, earn points toward certification renewal, and gives them greater latitude in hiring and budget decisions for the next three years. Here are the lists for elementary, middle, high and combination schools. Gradebook.

Charter applications: Two charter school companies are applying to open schools in Pasco County next fall. The Pinellas-based Plato Academy wants to open a second county school, for grades K-8, that could eventually have 728 students. Academica, out of Miami, is proposing a Pinecrest school in the Wesley Chapel area. It would be a K-8 school opening with 652 students but growth projected to 1,200 within five years. District officials are recommending the school board approve both. Gradebook.

School shelters cleanup: Public schools that serve as hurricane shelters have to start planning to accommodate pets, says State Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, who is also the director of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. Montford says not planning for pets costs a lot of money for cleanup, which also delays the reopening of the schools for classes. News Service of Florida.

Turnaround schools: Hernando County school officials believe extra assistance from the state and the district is starting to improve the academic performance and atmosphere at Moton Elementary School. A turnaround plan was put into place after Moton received consecutive D grades from the state. Tampa Bay Times. Hard work helped turn Pasco County’s Seven Springs Elementary School’s D grade from the state in 2016 to a C grade last spring, and school officials think in another year the school will once again be one of the highest performing in the county. Tampa Bay Times.

School calendar: Pinellas County’s public schools would begin the next school year on Monday, Aug 13, 2018, and end Wednesday, May 29, 2019, if the school board adopts the proposed schedule at its meeting Oct. 24. Gradebook.

Personnel moves: The Holmes County School Board hires retired judge Owen Powell as its attorney. Powell replaces Jeff Goodman, who was appointed to the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida. Holmes County Times Advertiser.

Fights in schools: A Palm Beach Gardens High School teacher and student had a brief fight in the classroom Thursday. Principal Larry Clawson said, “Once the investigation into the incident has concluded, appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken.” Palm Beach Post. Two fights involving more than a dozen students break out as school ended Wednesday at Bradford High School. Some told deputies the fight was racially motivated. No one was injured or arrested. WJXT. WJAX.

Money missing: Money raised by the Largo High School Athletic Booster Club is unaccounted for, and the president of the club resigned in August after the Pinellas County School District opened an investigation. WFLA.

Opinions on schools: Fiscal irresponsibility in some charter school networks is undermining the entire charter industry. It’s time to protect taxpayers and children from potentially nefarious forces undermining the quality of our school choices. Pamela Goodman, Sun-Sentinel. We need to once again push for a law that says  Florida teachers’ average salary should be at least at the national average teacher salary, which would be $10,000 more a year than their current salary. Kevin J. Rader, Palm Beach Post. The Marion County School Board did the right thing in rejecting Charter Schools USA’s application. It should serve as notice to other charter school operators that if you come to Marion, know the community and offer something our schools do not already provide. Ocala Star-Banner. One would think it would be an easy decision to replace a statue of somebody nobody has heard of (and who didn’t live here) with one of a revered Florida educator. Mark Lane, Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student enrichment: The nonprofit Who We Play For is providing free and reduced-cost cardiac screenings to student-athletes in Florida and six other states. WKMG. Seminole Trails Elementary School students wade into the estuary at MacArthur Beach State Park to observe sea life up close. Palm Beach Post.

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BY NextSteps staff