Florida schools roundup: Deadline for amendments, school security and more

Legal challenges: Legal challenges to seven of the 13 proposed constitutional amendments are expected to be settled this week. Two amendments, 6 and 8, have already been ordered off the ballot by judges for being misleading, and five others are pending. Amendment 8 bunches three education issues into a single yes or no vote: term limits for school board members, mandatory civics education in schools and the creation of an entity other than local school boards that can approve charter and public schools. The Florida Division of Elections says all issues must be finalized soon because it has to finish printing the ballots by Sept. 22 in order to get them to overseas voters. The election is Nov. 6. Watchdog.org. The state files its brief to the Florida Supreme Court in its appeal of of a judge’s removal of Amendment 8, contending the amendment “fully and accurately advises the electorate” about its purpose. The League of Women Voters has until Wednesday to respond. Oral arguments will be heard Sept. 5. Gradebook. Florida Phoenix. News Service of Florida.

School security: Security was tightened at Jacksonville Raines and Lee high schools Monday in response to Friday’s shootings at the football game between the schools. One man was killed and two others were wounded in what police are calling a gang incident. Counselors were also brought in to talk with students needing support. Later in the day, Duval County Superintendent Diana Greene announced that earlier kickoff times and different game days will begin immediately for high school football games while school officials work on a permanent plan to address violence at after-school events. Florida Times-Union. WJXT. A school guardian at Kinnan Elementary School in Manatee County is temporarily reassigned while the district investigates his Facebook postings sharing conspiracy theories and his membership in an organization that some call an antigovernment extremist group. Bradenton Herald. The Port Orange City Council postpones a vote on helping the Volusia County School District pay for school guardians after three members say they have a conflict of interest. Port Orange Observer.

Primary election day: School board races and tax initiatives are on ballots today across Florida. Here’s a summary of other high-profile races. Orlando Sentinel. Associated Press. Palm Beach Post. Florida Times-Union. Tampa Bay Times. Pensacola News Journal. Florida Today. Lakeland Ledger. TCPalm. Bradenton Herald. Naples Daily News. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Gainesville Sun. Ocala Star-Banner. Tallahassee Democrat. Panama City News Herald. Daily Commercial. Charlotte Sun. Sunshine State News.

Teachers surprised: Forty-two teachers at Trinity Elementary School in Pasco County are surprised with gifts of $100 each and a thank you note from the Millian-Aire Air Conditioning & Heating. In the note, business owners Howard and Susan Millian wrote that they wanted to donate the money for school supplies to “lift the burden” on teachers, who often spend their own money for supplies. Gradebook.

Superintendent bonus: The Lake County School Board raises the requirements for the superintendent to receive an annual bonus. The current evaluation provides a scale of bonuses that starts if the superintendent gets a 2.5 grade out of 5 on her evaluation. The change now requires an evaluation grade of 3 or higher to qualify for the bonuses. Daily Commercial.

District sued: The Hillsborough County School District is being sued by parents who claim a teacher injured their son when she slammed his head into a desk at Knights Elementary School in May 2017. The teacher, Maria Celeste Liberto, resigned about two months later. Florida Politics.

Crossing guard hit: A 72-year-old Clay County school crossing guard is hit in front of Oakleaf High School in Orange Park by a 16-year-old driver who says he didn’t see her. The guard is in the hospital with injuries that are described as not life-threatening. Florida Times-Union. WJXT.

Safety improvements: New traffic signals and a pedestrian crosswalk are being made to a busy intersection near Lakeland Highlands Middle School. The changes were prompted after a student was hurt in an accident in May. Lakeland Ledger.

Playoff changes: The Florida High School Athletic Association is considering expanding the changes it made for the state football playoffs into basketball, baseball, softball and soccer. A year ago, the FHSAA began ranking teams on a points system and making playoff pairings regardless of school enrollment. Gainesville Sun.

Delay in teacher’s arrest: A Palm Beach County teacher who kicked a stool out from under a student was able to land a job at another school because the prosecutors didn’t approve an arrest warrant for three months after the teacher had allegedly confessed and was suspended. The teacher, Scott Erich Landstrom, 48, was finally arrested and subsequently fired by the second school. Palm Beach Post.

Band director on leave: J.M. Tate High School band director Roy King is placed on administrative leave. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office says complaints have been made against King, but would not disclose the nature of those complaints. WEAR.

School threats: Charges of making a threat to Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola are dropped against a 17-year-old student who says he was simply warning people on social media about a threat he had heard. But he still faces expulsion. Pensacola News Journal. A 13-year-old Jim C. Bailey Middle School student is arrested and accused of threatening other students with a BB gun on an Escambia County school bus. WEAR.

Opinions on schools: Community partnership schools work because they eliminate barriers, bringing necessary services and resources like health care, counseling, mentoring, leadership opportunities and after-school enrichment opportunities right on the school site. Michael Shaver, Pensacola News Journal. Ask candidates for the Legislature and current state lawmakers to align state education accountability laws with the federal law and to require revision of the state’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Rosa Castro Feinberg, Miami Herald. What does educational equity really mean? Diedre Houchen, Gainesville Sun.

Student enrichment: All 600 students at Tice Elementary School in Fort Myers receive Vera Bradley backpacks from the nonprofit Blessings in a Backpack, which helps feed school children in the United States. The students will be able to fill their backpacks every week with food for the weekend. Fort Myers News-Press. The Children’s Healthy Pantry will supply healthy snacks and water to 12 schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties that have high percentages of low-income students. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The Education Foundation of Sarasota County receives a $60,000 grant from the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation to measure the effectiveness of Student Success Centers at North Port and Riverview high schools. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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BY NextSteps staff