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Florida schools roundup: Term limits, TPS, Bright Futures, charters and more

School board term limits: A proposal to limit terms for school board members is among the 103 changes to the state constitution that the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will begin considering Monday. Fourteen education-related proposals have been filed. Twenty-two of the 37 commission members have to approve proposals to put them on the November 2018 ballot. Then, 60 percent of voters would have to vote for the changes to put them into effect. The commission has until May 10 to finish voting on the proposals. News Service of Florida. WFSU.

Fighting end of TPS: Educators in south Florida vow to fight the Trump administration’s decision to end the temporary protected status for 60,000 Haitians who fled the island after a 2010 earthquake. About 20 percent of them are enrolled in the Miami-Dade school system. TPS for the Haitians would end in July 2019. WPLG. WSVN. WTVJ.

Bright Futures: Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, says he agrees with the bulk of the higher education agenda of Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, including the portion of the bill that would provide $77 million to restore 75 percent funding for Medallion scholars, the second level of the Bright Futures program. Politico Florida.

Charter appeals rejection: A charter school company is appealing the Marion County School Board’s decision to deny its application to open a school. Charter Educational Foundation Inc., which operates Charter Schools USA’s schools, asked the board for permission to open the 745-student Southeast Marion Charter Academy. The board decided the proposal offered nothing new or innovative, and denied it. The charter group is appealing that decision to the state. Ocala Star-Banner.

Employees honored: Four finalists are chosen as finalists for the Gulf County School District teacher of the year. They are: Kayla Bailey, 5th-grade teacher of language arts at Wewahitchka Elementary; Debbie Gerber, digital information technologies and business software at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High; Frances Hiscock, Port St. Joe Elementary; and Kim McFarland, geometry and upper level mathematics at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High. Six support staffers are also finalists for the district’s employee of the year award. Winners will be named before Christmas. Panama City News Herald. Five Pinellas County School District employees are finalists for the 2017-2018 support employee of the year. The winner will be named Jan. 12. Tampa Bay Times.

Contract negotiations: The Manatee County teachers union and the school district reach a tentative agreement that raises pay by $1,100 to $1,400, bumps the starting teacher salary from $38,285 to $39,094, and keeps health insurance premiums at the current level. The deal must be approved by teachers and the school board. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Teachers and Brevard County school officials are still squabbling over pay, but the district has reached an agreement with the 3,111 support staff. That group, which includes bus drivers, cafeteria workers, clerks, mechanics and instructional assistants, will get a raise of 1.5 percent if the deal is approved by the workers and the school board. Florida Today. Space Coast Daily.

Dual enrollment: The St. Johns County School District is expanding a dual enrollment program with St. Johns River State College that allows high school students to earn an associate of arts degree from the school as they work toward a diploma. In the program, a schedule is established for high school sophomores to follow that will earn them 60 college credits and an AA degree in three years. St. Augustine Record.

Software settlement: The Brevard County School votes to drop its lawsuit against a software manufacturer and settles the suit for $50,000. The district sued Harris School Solutions for the business software it bought four years ago and never could get working to its satisfaction. Less than half the system purchased has been received, and the district has spent about $5.9 million on upgrades. Florida Today.

Overcrowded schools: Sixteen of the 20 elementary schools in Alachua County are at or above 95 percent capacity, according to school officials, and 12 of the 16 are over 100 percent. The school district is asking voters next November to approve an increase in the sales tax by a half-cent over 12 years to pay for new schools. WUFT.

Turnaround schools: A Fort Lauderdale elementary school’s turnaround is serving as an example to five other struggling schools in Broward and Palm Beach counties, according to Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie. Walker Elementary used to have students being disciplined daily, with some striking teachers, and had 20 percent of its students chronically absent. So a new principal was installed who had the authority to hire new staff. Students were provided classes in the arts, social guidance was provided, meals were added and the media center was restocked. Now student disciplinary actions are down 70 percent, and just 9 percent of students are absent more than 18 days in a school year. Sun-Sentinel.

School start times: The Indian River County School District is not expected to change its school start times for the 2018-2019 school year. A school district committee had proposed later start times for middle and high schools, but board members say a community survey showed most parents did not like the proposed changes. TCPalm.

Personnel moves: John Craig is elected chairman of the Brevard County School Board, and Tina Descovich is elected vice chairwoman. Florida Today. Roy Terry is re-elected chairman of the Collier County School Board, and Stephanie Lucarelli replaces Erika Donalds as vice chairwoman. Naples Daily News. The Cape Coral City Council elects Jennifer Nelson as the new council representative on the city’s Charter School Authority. North Fort Myers Neighbor.

Report on fatality: The executive director of the Pepin Academies in Tampa had a blood alcohol content of nearly twice the level of presumed impairment when his water scooter collided with a boat Sept. 23, according to a toxicology report. Craig Butz died in the crash, and his 4-year-old daughter was critically injured. Tampa Bay Times.

Rapes in schools: Six Duval County students have reported being raped at school in the first six months of the year, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. WJAX.

After-school assault: The company that provides after-school care in Collier County says it will revise its hiring process after the arrest of an employee for sexual assault. Naples Daily News.

Charges against student: A Royal Palm Beach High School student is being charged with three felonies after he allegedly shot a classmate shortly after they got off a school bus Oct. 26. Artnell Shemar Brown, 18, is charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a weapon on school property. Palm Beach Post.

Opinions on schools: The most important problems facing the pipeline for science and engineering students at the high-school level in Florida have little to do with glitzy rocket competitions and much more to do with what goes on in high school science and math classrooms. Fewer and fewer students are taking physics courses. Paul Cottle, Orlando Sentinel. Disguised as an “education bill,” House Bill 7069 is set to begin wreaking havoc on Florida’s public schools. Every citizen who cares about quality education for our children should call on our local legislators to publicly explain why they all voted for this bill. Mark Castellano, Fort Myers News-Press. It’s unfortunate that Collier County School Board members rescheduled the federal Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 15 as a regular school day. But it’s not unwarranted. Naples Daily News. This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for the gift of reading. Terri Friedlander, Tallahassee Democrat.

Student enrichment: Eighty-two Palm Beach County schools now have “sharing tables,” where students can place unwanted food items that other students can take. The idea is to cut back on food waste and provide extra food to hungry students. Sun-Sentinel. Fifth-graders at Pelican Marsh Elementary School in Naples write a book about their experiences during Hurricane Irma. Naples Daily News.

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BY NextSteps staff