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Florida schools roundup: Hope Scholarship, Kavanaugh and more

Hope Scholarship delays: While the new state scholarship for bullied students technically begins when school resumes in August, funds for the Hope Scholarships won’t be available until after Oct. 1 and possibly not until later in November. The scholarships will be funded through voluntary donations of the $105 from the sales tax that drivers pay for vehicle transactions. The collections do not begin until Oct. 1 and car dealers have 20 days to report their previous month’s tax collections, which could delay the money being available until Nov. 20 or later. The scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and state analysts project a demand of about $27 million in the first year. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, will help administer the program. News Service of Florida.

Kavanaugh and education: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has defended then-Gov. Jeb Bush’s Florida school vouchers program against a constitutional challenge in 2000, publicly praised attempts to break down the barriers between religious schools participating in programs financed with public funds, and supported the use of public address systems for student-led prayers at public school events in Texas. The 74. Miami Herald. Politico. Sun-Sentinel. Education Week.

School shooting developments: The Broward County School District’s alternative discipline program, while flawed, played no part in the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, members of the state’s public safety commission agreed Tuesday. The Promise program, which is intended to keep students out of the criminal justice system, has been criticized for allowing students like Nikolas Cruz, the accused school shooter, to remain in school while committing crimes. The chairman of the panel, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, also said that Cruz’s mother allowed him to have guns despite school mental health counselors warning against it, and that Cruz was the subject of just a single threat assessment by the district. Sun-SentinelAssociated Press. Miami Herald. Fort Myers News-Press. School security camera videos showing the actions of law enforcement officials during the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School should not be made public, Broward school attorneys and the state attorney argue before the Fourth District Court of Appeal. About a dozen media organizations are asking that the video be made public. Miami Herald.

School security: Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell is asking the school board to assume a larger responsibility for paying for school resource officers. Darnell wants the board to pay 45 percent of the costs instead of the current 13.2 percent or the 27.5 percent initially proposed by the board. Under Darnell’s proposal, the school board would have to come up with another $431,000. WUFT. Money for a new Marion County School District administration building will instead be used to improve school security, say district officials. “The new headquarters can wait. Safety should be our top priority,” says Superintendent Heidi Maier. Ocala Star-Banner. More than a dozen volunteers for the Bradford County School District’s armed guardian program are being trained by the sheriff’s department. Among the volunteers are administrators, former teachers and law enforcement officials. WCJB.

Superintendent pay: Incoming Brevard County School District Superintendent Mark Mullins will be paid $210,000 a year for three years when he takes over the job Aug. 11. The school board approved the contract Tuesday. Mullins is succeeding Desmond Blackburn, who is leaving to head a nonprofit. Mullins, the district’s chief operating officer, currently makes $127,610. Florida Today. Brevard Times. Space Coast Daily.

Tax hike vote considered: Charlotte County School Board members tentatively agree to ask voters Nov. 6 to increase property taxes by a mill to improve teacher pay. The tax would raise about $15 million a year. Charlotte Sun.

Charter school issues: Palm Beach County school officials decide to stop sending money to a charter school they have been trying to close. The district planned to shutter Eagle Arts Academy this summer due to its deteriorating financial condition, but the school appealed and has been granted two two delays for its required hearings. Palm Beach Post.

Testing allegations: Some black alumni of the old Matthew Gilbert high school, now a middle school, are accusing Duval County School Board member Scott Shine and Florida Coalition of School Board Members leaders of racial stereotyping after questioning how the school’s civics test scores improved over last year. Some schools in Duval, Manatee and Polk counties decided to have some struggling 7th-graders wait until 8th grade to take the test, when they could be better prepared. The state gives districts that option, but Shine and the FCSBM accused those districts of deliberately withholding testing to improve school grades and avoid state penalties on persistently low-graded schools. Florida Times-Union.

Principals as coaches: School districts benefit when high-level supervisors spend less time on administrative duties and more time coaching and mentoring principals, according to a report from Vanderbilt University’s college of education and human development. Broward County was one of six districts cited for coming up with “efficient and effective ways to position supervisors so they could fill the coaching and supporting gap,” according to lead researcher Ellen Goldring. “Executive coaching is prevalent in high-performing organizations, but it’s not typically done in school districts.” Education DiveVanderbilt University. Education Week.

Contract negotiations: Volusia County teachers and school district officials resume contract negotiations, but little progress is made to resolve disagreements over pay and planning time. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Teaching math: Personalized learning, in the form of suggesting solutions to accelerated math problems but allowing 4th-graders to discover their own paths to answers, is boosting test scores at elementary schools throughout Palm Beach County and putting students on the fast track to taking algebra in middle school, say school officials. redefinED.

School uniforms: The Washington County School Board will consider requiring school uniforms for all public schools. Foster Folly News.

Notable deaths: Aurelia Cole, who in 2004 became the first black principal at a Lake County school after integration, has died at the age of 69. Cole was also a teacher, dean of students, assistant principal and assistant superintendent. Daily Commercial.

School board elections: Manatee County School Board candidates talk about school security and the search for a new school superintendent. Bradenton Herald.

Personnel moves: Bay County Superintendent Bill Husfelt is moving Oscar Patterson Elementary School principal Darnita Rivers to the assistant principal’s job at Breakfast Point Academy in Panama City Beach. Crystal Sullivan-McNeal, who was an assistant principal at C.C. Washington Academy, will be acting principal at Oscar Patterson. WJHG. Carlan Martin is named principal at Marianna High School. WMBB.

New school year: Nineteen of Florida’s 67 school districts will resume school Aug. 10, according to the Florida Department of Education. Another 40 will open by Aug. 13. The Miami-Dade and Walton school districts will be the last to reopen, on Aug. 20. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Open house proposal: A Pasco County couple trying to sell their house invite principals from River Ridge high and middle schools to their open house so they could counter would-be buyers’ objections to the recent school board decision to rezone the home from one set of schools to another. The principals declined. Gradebook.

Charges dropped: Criminal charges have been dropped against a Lake Howell High School teacher who had been accused of failing to report a sexual relationship between a student and a school volunteer. James Brendlinger, 46, who had been the school’s theater teacher for 21 years, resigned in May during an investigation by the Seminole County School District. Orlando Sentinel.

School burglarized: Eighteen laptops were stolen from Powell Middle School last weekend, Hernando County sheriff’s deputies say. Fourteen were found undamaged near the school. Tampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools: Should schools that target high-needs areas get more flexibility to show results over time? Or should they be required to show results in two — or, in some exceptional cases, three — years before getting shut down? This is a nuanced accountability debate that may be worth having. Travis Pillow, redefinED. In Florida, diesel school buses expose 2.7 million children to toxins and known carcinogens on a daily basis. Upgrading these buses to run on clean energy will help protect our most vulnerable population from air pollution. Our kids are worth it. Grant Lewis, Florida Today.

Student enrichment: About 250 children from Immokalee will receive new school shoes as part of a Guadalupe Center program that’s now in its 26th year. Naples Daily News. High school students from around the country get an opportunity to work with researchers in various labs through the University of Florida’s Student Summer Training Program. Gainesville Sun.

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BY NextSteps staff