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Florida schools roundup: School police chief, budgets, depression and more

School security: Paul Grohowski, who most recently worked as the director of public safety and chief of police for the Allan Hancock Joint Community College Police Department in Santa Maria, Calif., is hired as police chief for the Sarasota County School District. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Some of the everyday people being hired as school guardians in Polk County talk about their motives for taking the job. Lakeland LedgerCBS News. A survey shows that students in Boca Raton want improved active shooter drills, bulletproof windows installed and identification badges on campus enforced. Palm Beach Post. The Gulf County teachers union holds a community meeting to discuss school safety, motivating students and other issues. Port St. Joe Star.

Budget problems: The Volusia County School District is projecting a budget deficit of $4.49 million for the next fiscal year, and district officials and school board members have six weeks to close it before the scheduled board vote. Items unsettled include how much school security is going to cost, pay raises as the district continues to negotiate with the teachers union, and whether there will be money left over from the current budget year, which ends June 30. Dipping into reserves has been mentioned as an option to close the deficit. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Teaching with depression: Teachers who suffer from depression spend less time than other teachers in group instruction and explaining new assignments, according to research published in the Journal of School Psychology. Researchers studied 32 3rd-grade teachers and their 326 students in eight schools in north Florida three times over the course of a year, and theorize that depressed teachers may be choosing lessons that require less energy. Education Week.

Game back online: The video game Active Shooter, in which players can play out the role of a school shooter or a first responder, will continue to be sold online, says the 21-year-old Russian developer. The game was removed from the video game marketplace Steam and crowdfunding site Indiegogo after complaints from parents of school shooting victims. Associated Press.

Text-A-Tip for students: The Marion County Children’s Alliance is launching an anonymous texting hotline in mid-August for middle- and high-school students to report crimes and suicide threats. The district already has a hotline, called 866-Speak-Up, but school board members were receptive to adding another option. Ocala Star-Banner.

Anti-bullying hotline: The brother of accused Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is launching an anti-bullying nonprofit organization and 24/7 hotline. Zachary Cruz says he wanted to start “We Isolate No-one” to give students a safe place against bullies and isolation. He wants to form local chapters in middle schools and high schools around the nation. Miami Herald.

Contract negotiations: The Monroe County School Board approves a one-year contract with the district’s teachers and other workers. Each salary increment for teachers was raised by $300, while hourly workers will receive a 2.75 percent increase. Key West Citizen.

Charter schools: The Collier County School Board approves a payment of $1.26 million to the Marco Island Academy. That’s what the board expects to receive for the sale of an 11.6-acre piece of property on Marco Island. The school has been asking the board for help since it suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Irma. Naples Daily News.

Personnel moves: A new administrator and three principals are appointed in the Clay County School District. Jennifer Roach will become supervisor of instructional personnel. New principals are Stephanie Jackson at Grove Park Elementary, Justin Faulkner at Orange Park Junior High, and Chastity Lee at Plantation Oaks Elementary. Florida Times-Union. Clay Today. Jeremy LeBrun is named principal at DeLaura Middle School in Brevard County. LeBrun is a former student at the school. Space Coast Daily. Indian Ridge Middle School in Davie is reassigning principal Frank Zagari and assistant principal Michael Lyons. Zagari, 63, who had been at the Broward County school 16 years, says he was ready for a change. No reason was given for Lyons’ move. Sun-Sentinel.

Educators honored: Slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School coaches Aaron Feis, Scott Beigel and Chris Hixon are receiving the best coach award at this year’s ESPN Espy Awards.  They’re being honored for “their immeasurable bravery in the face of danger and for their ultimate sacrifice to protect the lives of countless students,” says ESPN vice president Alison Overholt. Sun-Sentinel. Associated Press. Six teachers are presented with Governor’s Shine Awards for making “significant contributions to the field of education.” They are: Eleanna Hurst of Broward County, Maria Torres-Crosby of Hillsborough, Samantha Hopper of Monroe, William Ivey of Sarasota, Dana Kelly of St. Johns and Kathleen Redfern of Walton. WJXT. Stacy Gotlib of River Springs Middle School is named the Volusia County School District’s secondary principal of the year, and Dwayne Copeland of Starke Elementary is chosen as the top elementary principal. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Crosswalks being added: Five temporary crosswalks will be painted onto West Terry Street in Bonita Springs to improve safety for students walking to schools. Students had asked city officials for help. “We’re trying to improve an unsafe situation there,” says councilman Mike Gibson. “Hopefully the crosswalk and signage will get people to notice and make it safer.” Fort Myers News-Press.

Historic school: The one-room Duette School, the last of its kind in Florida, closed two years ago. Now it’s been nominated for a spot on the National Registry of Historic Places. The school opened in 1930 as a place where farm children could learn the basics and still help their families during harvest season. Bradenton Herald.

New school’s name: A majority of Manatee County School Board members say they support naming a new elementary school in Parrish after longtime county educator Barbara A. Harvey. The board will make a final decision June 26. Bradenton Herald.

Reading scores: Forty-four percent of Franklin County’s 3rd-graders are reading at grade level or higher, according to their scores on the language arts portion of the Florida Standards Assessments tests. That’s down 8 percentage points from last year, and is 13 percentage points below the state average. Apalachicola Times.

Ninja teachers: Cape Coral teacher Morgan Wright completes the course on the reality TV show American Ninja Warrior on Wednesday night and moves on to the finals later this season. Wright, who wears a moose hat while competing, has appeared on the show three times. Fort Myers News-Press. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School history teacher Gabe Stewart didn’t complete the Ninja course Wednesday, but says he showed “that we are MSD Strong. It proves we still strive for greatness.” Sun-Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: Secondary issues should not be allowed to distract from the primary focus — teacher pay — of contract negotiations between the Volusia County School District and the teachers union. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student enrichment: Leon County elementary and middle school teachers learn dance moves that can help students with math lessons, with the help of  a partnership the district has with Florida State University’s Opening Nights and the John F. Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education program. Florida State University.

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BY NextSteps staff