Florida schools roundup: Charters, federal funds, budgets and more

No sharing with charters: The Pasco County School Board decides not to share any of its capital funding with charter schools, rejecting a plan proposed by district administrators to share money for maintenance and facilities expenses based on student demographics and performance. Pasco is one of three state counties not required to share capital funding because of their high construction debt ratios. “Our budget changes every year,” says board member Steve Luikart. “We can’t guarantee something that is not guaranteed to us.” Gradebook.

Funds for displaced students: Fifty-two Florida school districts will share $46.8 million in federal aid as reimbursement for educating thousands of students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who were displaced by hurricanes. Orange County, which took in 4,000 students, will receive about $12 million. Osceola County will get about $5 million, Broward $4.4 million, Miami-Dade $4.2 million and Collier $3.1 million. The state will retain $47.7 million. Orlando SentinelFlorida Politics.

District budgets: The Manatee County School Board approves an $889.4 million budget. The general fund portion, which pays for daily expenses such as teacher salaries and utility bills, is up 12.05 percent over last year. “The increased funding will allow the district to continue on the path to financial resiliency, educate 48,686 students, fill 210 vacancies, and further improve upon the educational experience for all students,” interim superintendent Cynthia Saunders wrote in a letter to the board. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. An analysis of the Indian River County School District’s budget discloses that a projected $2.3 million budget shortfall was simply an accounting error. Superintendent Mark Rendell says he plans to hire an outside auditor to review the $291 million budget. TCPalm.

School security: The Sarasota County School Board approves an agreement with the sheriff’s office to provide the district’s police force with access to state and federal crime databases. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Spending plans for tax hike: Fresh off winning voter approval for higher property taxes for teacher raises and other school operations, Martin County school officials are developing priorities for using money if the voters approve a sales tax hike on Nov. 6. Security issues are the top priority for the $16 million or so a year a higher sales tax would generate. The district has about $15 million in security projects identified. TCPalm. Schools in Palm Beach Beach County are starting to receive large interactive touch-screens for classrooms, and 25,000 Chromebooks will be purchased in the next three years, courtesy of voters approving a boost in the sales tax. Palm Beach Post.

Attendance zone crackdown: Every school in Leon County has been busy verifying addresses to make sure students are attending the schools they should be attending. “Unfortunately, now we’re seeing some families that are fabricating stories and claiming they’re living with other relatives or renting a room from someone’s house and all of these other things to bypass our school choice rules and policies,” says Superintendent Rocky Hanna. Tallahassee Democrat.

Dispute over software: Interim Manatee County school superintendent Cynthia Saunders says she’s still waiting for an updated plan from a vendor on fixing the district’s troubled business software program. The district, the vendor and its parent company reached an agreement last week for the company, Ciber, to complete the project, which was supposed to cost $10 million but has ballooned to $20.1 million. Bradenton Herald.

Superintendent’s evaluation: Lake County School Board members will formally evaluate Superintendent Diane Kornegay at next week’s meeting. On her first evaluation last year, Kornegay was given an overall score of 4.3 on a 5-point system. Daily Commercial.

Security, mental health issues: Jill Renihan, the new director of safe schools for the Hernando County School District, and mental health coordinator Sandra Hurst talk about their goals and their backgrounds. Tampa Bay Times.

Personnel moves: News Warrington Elementary School principal Tim Rose will rely on his background as a Marine Corps military police officer as he tries to improve the Pensacola school’s grades from F and D the past two years. Pensacola News Journal.

Raises for bus drivers: Polk County School Board members approve pay raises of 1.5 to 2 percent for school bus drivers, boost the starting wage to $13.40 an hour and drop the requirement that drivers have a high school degree or GED. “One of the reasons we have higher pay is to be competitive with surrounding counties,” says Rob Davis, assistant superintendent of support services. Lakeland Ledger.

School lunch dispute: Pasco County school officials cut lunch time at Wiregrass Ranch High School this year from 50 minutes to 30, saying students need that extra 20 minutes of instruction a day. But students are protesting, and have released a video documentary that shows lunch room images including long lines. Gradebook.

First abuse trial set: A school district investigator will be the first Okaloosa County school official to go on trial for his role in a child abuse case. Arden Farley is charged with failure to report child abuse by a teacher, and his trial is set Sept. 11. Others charged are the teacher, Marlynn Stillions for child abuse, and former Kenwood Elementary principal Angelyn Vaughan and former assistant superintendent of human resources Stacie Smith for failure to report child abuse. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Notable deaths: Bob Albertson, a teacher and basketball coach at Florida High School in Tallahassee for 43 years and a referee for 55 years, dies at the age of 92. The school’s gymnasium was named in his honor. Tallahassee Democrat.

Substitute dies at school: A substitute teacher collapses and dies as he’s walking to class Tuesday at New Smyrna Beach High School. Culver Revell, 84, had worked as a sub for Volusia schools since 2012 and was at that high school nearly every day. “He loved what he was doing,” says principal Matthew Krajewski. “The kids referred to him as ‘grandpa.’ He was kind of our go-to guy.” Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student hit by car: A 17-year-old student is seriously injured when she is hit by a car just after getting off her school bus in DeBary. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating. Orlando Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: Should Florida seriously invest in the early learning years to close the academic achievement gap, we would help tens of thousands of Florida’s children, and at the same time make the most prudent use of taxpayer dollars. In so doing, we would see less crime, a stronger workforce and millions of public dollars saved. Maria C. Alonso and David Lawrence Jr., Miami Herald. With air conditioners on the fritz across the Hillsborough County School District and feels-like temperatures soaring into the 90s, the school system needs to do whatever it takes to cool these schools. Students can’t learn and teachers can’t teach when they are so uncomfortable and distracted. Tampa Bay Times. We are lucky to live in a state that has given parents the power to access so many different school environments for their kids. But that’s not where the story ends. Parents have the right to ensure their options are effective. Exercise that right. David Kimbell, Pensacola News Journal.

Student enrichment: Montverde Academy senior Allison Fitzgerald’s score for her short film I Don’t Know is selected as a finalist in the original score category at the Los Angeles Cinefest. Daily Commercial. Dade City police officers help students from Rodney B. Cox Elementary, Pasco Elementary and Pasco Middle schools during a “Shop with a Cop” shopping spree. Tampa Bay Times. Free flu shots are being offered in Duval County schools through a district partnership with Healthy Schools LLC. WJXT.

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BY NextSteps staff