Florida schools roundup: Growth slows, security shakeup, reopenings and more

School enrollment: Enrollment growth in the Palm Beach County School District is slowing, with new students totaling under 1,000 for the first time in more than a decade. The latest head count shows 196,000 students, about 880 more than last year. “We did expect a little more growth,” says chief financial officer Mike Burke. “But smaller gains aren’t problematic. What’s bad is declining enrollment — it’s much more difficult to deal with.” Sixty-eight of the district’s 168 schools are still near-full or over capacity. Palm Beach Post.

Security shakeup: Just three months after the Sarasota County School District’s police department was formed, its head of security is leaving and the police chief has been reassigned to an administrative role away from the department. To replace them, the district has hired Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Captain Timothy Enos to be both police chief and executive director of safety and security. Security head Michael Andreas resigned, and police chief Paul Grohowski will supervise the capital improvements program and the hardening of schools project. Enos is seen as a potential bridge to help repair the recently strained relationship between Bowden and Sheriff Tom Knight over school security costs. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

District reopening: The Calhoun County School District reopens today for the first time since Hurricane Michael hit the Panhandle on Oct. 10. Superintendent Ralph Yoder talks about the extent of the damage and the preparation needed to reopen. WFSU.

School renovations: The soccer and track fields at Don Estridge High Tech Middle School will be unavailable for the next three years while students from Verde Elementary in Boca Raton fill portable classrooms on the fields because their campus is being demolished and rebuilt on the same property. Parents and staff at Don Estridge are unhappy with the decision. “I don’t think the school district has thought about what the impact will be,” says Bruce Rich, Don Estridge track coach and civics teacher. “To lose our track and say you can run it at another school, that’s not acceptable to me.” Sun-Sentinel.

Educators honored: Paul Peacock, principal of Indian Trails Middle School, is named principal of the year for the Flagler County School District. Assistant principal of the year is Cara Cronk, who works at Buddy Taylor Middle School. Daytona Beach News-JournalPalm Coast Observer. Mike Fantaski, principal at Addie R. Lewis School in Okaloosa County, talks about being one of nine state principals to win a leadership award from Florida TaxWatch. Northwest Florida Daily News.

School expansion: The Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, a private Catholic girls school in Coconut Grove for the past 60 years, is now planning to open an all-boys school for Pre-K through 5th grade on property about 2 miles north of the girls school. Both schools will be governed by a single board of trustees, but will operate separately although some expenses will be shared. Miami Herald.

School closing opposed: Parents with children in Lacoochee Elementary School in Pasco are mobilizing after the school district says it plans to close the school next summer. Parent-Child-Teacher Organization president Savanna Harris says the school is a key component in the community, where families come for help beyond schooling. “I really want to know what we can do to prevent this,” Harris says. “I realize there’s a business aspect to schools. But if we’re talking about the best interest of children, that’s being ignored.” Gradebook.

Stop the bleed training: More than 6,000 Broward County teachers and school employees at 85 schools receive “stop the bleed” training. Kits include a tourniquet, gloves and first aid supplies, like gauze that are used to stop severe bleeding until paramedics can arrive. The national drive for the training originated in Davie. WLRN.

Personnel moves: Adam Wolin is named principal at Trinity Elementary School in Pasco County. He had been principal at Mittye P. Locke Elementary School in New Port Richey. He replaces Aimee Boltze, who is going to work for the charter school firm Academica. Gradebook.

Reading initiative: A new podcast is launched that has weekly interviews with researchers on early childhood development and literacy, authors, parents and children to support Sarasota County’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The podcast is called the Fight for Grade-Level Reading. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School being renamed: Manatee County school officials are asking for nominations to rename a new K-8 school that was formed when Johnson Middle School and the now-closed Wakeland Elementary School merged. It’s now being called the Johnson-Wakeland International School of Baccalaureate. After six months of collecting community input, the board will hold a public hearing on the proposals. Bradenton Herald.

Lawsuit delayed: A lawsuit filed by a Clay County School Board candidate against her opponent has been delayed until after the Nov. 6 election. District 5 board member Ashley Gilhousen filed the suit, claiming Lynne Chafee didn’t qualify to run because she doesn’t live in the district. Because 30,000 votes have already been cast, the judge decided against issuing a ruling. If Gilhousen wins the suit will be moot. If Chafee wins, the case will proceed. Clay Today. WJXT.

Schools lose Internet: About 300 Miami-Dade schools were without Internet service on Wednesday after a construction crew cut a fiber optic cable. AT&T hopes to have the service restored today. Miami Herald.

School guard arrested: A 50-year-old security guard at Deerfield Beach Middle School is arrested and accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old student. The girl had confided suicidal thoughts and her sexual desires to Alejandro Escobar. Instead of reporting them, Escobar developed a relationship with her, according to deputies, including kissing her and telling her he loved her. He faces charges of lewd and lascivious behavior and failing to report. Miami Herald.

Teacher suspended: A Polk County teacher’s certificate has been suspended for six months by the Florida Department of Education for allegedly helping students take the math portion of the Florida Standards Assessment in 2017. Maria Munoz-Sobrino, then a 4th-grade teacher at Loughman Elementary School in Lakeland, read test items to her students, who were English language-learners. Lakeland Ledger.

Two allege affairs with teacher: Two students are alleging they had affairs with a former teacher at Fletcher High School in Jacksonville, according to a Duval County School District investigative report. After the girls discovered they were involved with Corey French at the same time, they notified his wife, who told district officials. French, who denies the allegations, resigned in May. Florida Times-Union. WJXT.

Coach’s tirade captured: The CEO and basketball director at a Christian academy in Port St. Lucie is caught profanely berating a player who was asking about transferring. Mike Woodbury says he regrets his tirade, and says he plans to scale back his involvement with the Nation Christian Academy. TCPalm. WTLV.

Students arrested: A 16-year-old student at Jensen Beach High School in Martin County is arrested and accused of writing threats against the school and its students on a chemistry class computer. The boy’s family says he had been involuntary institutionalized in the past for threatening them. TCPalm. A 17-year-old Niceville High School student is arrested after allegedly threatening to “shoot up” the school. He told deputies he was joking. Northwest Florida Daily News. A student at Lake Lucina Elementary in Jacksonville is detained by police after bringing a knife to school and threatening another student. WJAX.

Student hit by vehicle: A 5-year-old student at Hawk’s Rise Elementary School in Tallahassee is hit by a vehicle as he was crossing a street to get to his school bus. The boy was hospitalized with injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening. Tallahassee Democrat.

Opinions on schools: State House candidate Anthony Sabatini’s Halloween donning of blackface when he was in high school is a lesson for students: Don’t do anything now that you don’t want to explain a decade later. Lauren Ritchie, Orlando Sentinel.

Student enrichment: Eight Indian River County elementary schools are involved in the Moonshot Academy, an after-school and summer reading program helping the lower 50th percentile of students in grades K-3. TCPalm. Five Volusia and Flagler county schools are participating in the Morning Mile program created by the American Diabetes Association to boost physical activity for U.S. students. Daytona Beach News-Journal. A recycling program at J.W. Mitchell High School in Pasco County gives structure and purpose for special-needs students. Tampa Bay Times. Three Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors are among Glamour magazine’s “women of the year.” Emma Gonzalez, Jaclyn Corin and Samantha Fuentes were honored along with actors Viola Davis and Janelle Monea, Chrissy Teigen, Sen. Kamala Harris and gymnast Aly Raisman, among others. Sun-Sentinel.

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BY NextSteps staff