Florida schools roundup: Security costs, two new community schools and more

School security: A St. Petersburg Police Department spokeswoman says officers are being pulled off the street to comply with the new state law requiring a resource officer in every school. “I have no choice,” says chief Tony Holloway. “Kids’ safety is first.” Tampa Bay TimesWTSP. Lake County School Board member Bill Mathias suggests that a temporary increase of a half-cent in the sales tax should be considered to help pay for security upgrades at the county’s public schools. He estimates the tax, which would have to be approved by voters, would raise about $15 million a year. Daily Commercial. The Sarasota and North Port police departments agree with the sheriff’s office that the Sarasota County School District should pay the full cost for school resource officers. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The Hendry County School Board says it wants further study and input from the community before deciding whether to go ahead with the Legislature’s school security plan to arm school personnel. WBBH. Legislators and Brevard County residents clash at a town forum over the issue of arming school employees. Florida Today. A panel of students, teachers and activists discusses school shootings and security at a town meeting in Sarasota. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Forty-three percent of all U.S. schools now have armed guards, up from 31 percent from 10 years ago, according to a survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. Associated Press.

Community schools: The Leon County School District is moving ahead with a plan to turn Sable Palm Elementary into a community school, which combines academic, health and social services in an effort to boost student performance. Partners in the project are the school district, Florida State University, the Children’s Home Society and Florida A&M University’s College of Education. WFSU. Wilkinson Junior High School will become Clay County’s first community school. The school district is collaborating with the Children’s Home Society, St. Johns River State College and Baptist Health and Wolfson Children’s Hospital. WOKV.

School shooting developments: The makeshift memorial for the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is being dismantled by 50 volunteers. The objects will be moved to climate-controlled rooms so they can be preserved for a future public exhibit. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. The family of Carmen Schentrup, who died in the shootings, creates a fund in her name to fight ALS. Gainesville Sun. Students from Stoneman Douglas, parents and politicians form a new organization, 17 For Change, to push for stricter restrictions on guns and to publicly identify politicians who support and oppose those efforts. Sun-Sentinel. WLRN. Confessed school shooter Nikolas Cruz is getting stacks of love letters and fan mail from teenage girls, women and some men, along with hundreds of dollars for his jail account. Sun-Sentinel.

Charter’s renewal: Pasco County school officials are recommending a 15-year renewal of the contract with Dayspring Academy, the county’s oldest charter school. Cofounded by former state legislator John Legg, the school is A-rated by the state. Gradebook.

Governor’s education issues: The party nominees for the governor’s election in November are unknown, but the educational issues facing them are not: school security, the effects of the last two major education bills passed by the Legislature, and proposed constitutional amendments that will also be on the ballot. The 74.

School districts rated: Public schools in south Sarasota County are rated the best in the state by the national website Niche.com. The general region of Sarasota County also was ranked third, though the website did not explain how it divided up the region. The Sarasota district is one of two districts to earn A rankings from the state since the Florida Department of Education began grading districts in 2004. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Teacher shortages: Critical teacher shortages continue in Miami and throughout the state in science, English, math, reading, special education and English for speakers of other languages, according to the Florida Department of Education. Miami Today.

Close-in busing ending: The Martin County School Board approves an phased-in end to busing for students who live within two miles of their schools, unless their walks are deemed to be hazardous. TCPalm.

Personnel moves: Ellen Thomas, an assistant principal at Moon Lake Elementary School, is named principal at Anclote Elementary in Pasco County. She replaces Barbara Kleinsorge, who is taking a job in the district administration. Gradebook.

Bus driver shortage: Despite raising pay and increasing guaranteed hours for school bus drivers, the Marion County School District is still facing a critical shortage. The district is losing three or four drivers a month. Ocala Star-Banner.

Reviewing allegations: Leon County School Board member DeeDee Rasmussen is asking district officials to review allegations of wrongdoing at the Lively Technical Center. The charges have been lodged by former Lively principal Woody Hildebrandt, who pleaded no contest in 2017 to theft of materials from the schools and is serving 12 months of probation. He claims other center employees are guilty of sexual harassment and misconduct, theft of materials, falsification of records and more. Tallahassee Democrat.

Teacher fired: A 7th-grade teacher at KIPP Impact Middle School in Jacksonville is fired for pushing a student, which is a violation of the school’s code of conduct. The school did not name the teacher. WJXT.

School threats: A 15-year-old student is arrested for allegedly taking a gun to Raines High School in Jacksonville. WJAX. A 19-year-old Lehigh man is arrested and accused of threatening an assault against a school in Fort Payne, Ala. Fort Myers News-Press.

Opinions on schools: Making sure our schools are safe should be a shared responsibility of all local officials. Citrus County Chronicle.

Student enrichment: Ridgeview High School freshman Matthew Rodriquez is named the top volunteer in the state by Algebra Nation for his volunteer work helping others with math problems. Clay Today.

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BY NextSteps staff