Florida schools roundup: Schools of Hope, sheriffs and security and more

Schools of Hope operators: Two more charter schools companies are applying to the state to become Schools of Hope operators. KIPP New Jersey and Democracy Prep Public Schools are asking the Florida Board of Education to approve their applications at its meeting Wednesday. If approved, they would join Somerset Academy and IDEA Public Schools as Hope operators. The program is meant to encourage established, successful charter schools to open in neighborhoods with persistently struggling traditional public schools. No Schools of Hope have opened yet in the state. Gradebook. redefinED.

School security: The Legislature intended for school districts, not law enforcement, to be responsible for the expenses of guarding the state’s schools, a lawyer for the Florida Sheriffs Association says in a legal opinion that has been distributed around the state. “It is apparent the act requires school districts to fund any general appropriations shortfall either through reallocating funds under their respective budgets or accessing their reserved funds or raising their millage rates,” association general counsel Wayne Evans wrote. The reluctance of law enforcement agencies to help finance school security has pushed many school districts to consider hiring armed guards instead of sworn school resource officers. Gradebook. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The Hillsborough County School District will hire armed security guards to be assigned to about 100 elementary schools that don’t have a police presence now. The cost will be about $7 million the first year and $5.3 million a year after that, and the district will use $6 million from the state’s guardian program to help cover the costs. Tampa Bay TimesWFLA. Monroe County School Superintendent Mark Porter promises anxious parents that security improvements will be made to schools this summer. Key West Citizen. Where northwest Florida counties stand on school security. WJHG.

State’s ESSA plan: Two civil rights groups are urging U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reject Florida’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. In a letter to DeVos, Mari Corugedo, state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, and NAACP state education chair Shirley Johnson write that the Florida’s plan is noncompliant with federal law because it “excludes critical protections for our English learners, students with disabilities, students of color, and low-income students” by failing to consider testing in languages other than English or meeting subgroup accountability requirements. Gradebook.

School’s costs rising: The projected cost of the North County Elementary School in the Parrish area of Manatee County has gone up by $8 million, to $28 million, school officials say. Construction services are up by $7.6 million, driven by the impact of metal tariffs, the rising cost of labor and the decision to build the school to be a hurricane shelter. The school is scheduled to open in August 2019. Bradenton Herald.

Contract negotiations: The president of the Hillsborough County teachers union is accusing district officials of trying to bust the union. Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins told teachers and other employees in a social media post that the district “wants to cut all of your pay, while they continue to pay high-cost administrators.” The district says the administrative ranks have been cut by 20 percent. Gradebook.

Debating science books: The Collier County School Board rejects complaints from residents and approves science textbooks for the district. At a public hearing this week, some residents objected to the way the books dealt with climate change and evolution. The board’s approval starts a 30-day window in which official objections to the books can be filed with the district. Naples Daily News.

Committing to teaching: More than 50 high school seniors sign a pledge to teach in the Palm Beach County School District after they graduate from college and meet the state’s certification requirements. The agreement is part of the district’s recruiting effort to fill holes left by a high teacher turnover rate. Sun-Sentinel.

H.B. 7069 lawsuit: Pinellas County School Board chairwoman Rene Flowers talks about the board’s decision to join an appeal of a decision in a lawsuit filed by 13 school boards challenging the constitutionality of the Legislature’s 2017 education bill, H.B. 7069. Gradebook.

Education and politics: In a denunciation of charter schools, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine says “you don’t invest in your competition” and that he plans “to take money that we’re putting in someone else’s business and actually put it in our business, which is called the public school.” Tampa Bay Times. Jonathan Hilliard, a 4th-grade teacher at Apollo Elementary School in Titusville, lists school security, arming school staff and teacher pay as big issues in the November election. He was speaking as part of the USA Today network’s Florida Voices series. TCPalm.

District sells land: The Manatee County School District sells the 8.75 acres where Palmetto Elementary School used to sit to the city for $1.45 million. The city has not yet announced its plans for the parcel. Bradenton Herald.

Principal reprimanded: The principal who recommended a teacher for a job in another school district even though he knew the teacher was facing sex charges has been reprimanded. Manatee County Superintendent Diana Greene says Lincoln Memorial Middle School principal Eddie Hundley made”false and inaccurate” statements to help get Quentin Peterson a job in Sarasota County even as Peterson was under investigation. Peterson was hired as a math teacher in Sarasota, and two months later was arrested on charges of possessing child pornography. The Sarasota County School District has filed a complaint with the state against Hundley’s actions. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Opinions on schools: The Duval County School District failed hundreds of students by taking them out of one failing school and putting them in another. This is inexcusable. Florida Times-Union. There are serious questions about funding and the legalities of implementing the school safety act passed by the Legislature. It makes sense for lawmakers to reconvene, in a special session solely dedicated to fixing it. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Student enrichment: Kid’s Community College, a K-8 charter school in the Hillsborough County area of Riverview, is one of seven Florida schools honored for closing the science achievement gap between white and black students. Patch. Nicole Perrone, a senior at Forrest High School in Ocala, is honored by for her perfect attendance record through 13 years in the Marion County School District. Associated Press. Sixth-graders from Belle Terre Elementary School in Palm Coast test a new app designed by students from Flagler County’s i3 Academy that creates a game for visitors to enhance their visits to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Francisco Lindor, a Montverde Academy graduate and now the shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, follows through on a promise that if the baseball team went undefeated he would let the players shave his head. The team finished 25-0. Daily Commercial.

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BY NextSteps staff