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Florida schools roundup: Bay schools, elections, voucher eviction and more

After the storm: Fifteen Bay County schools reopened Monday, more than three weeks after Hurricane Michael devastated the county and surrounding areas. A school district spokeswoman said about 90 percent of the teachers reported for work, but the district won’t have a good count of students until later in the week. Students face a lack of supplies, no Internet service, damaged gymnasiums and split schedules. But the operative phrase of the day, according to Moseley High School principal Brian Bullock, was “we’ll figure it out.” Other Bay schools are scheduled to open later this week or next week. Panama City News HeraldAssociated Press. WJHG.

Election day: More than 5.1 million Floridians voted before today, election day, according to state officials. That’s 38.7 percent of the state’s 13.27 million registered voters. On the ballot are the governor’s race, a U.S. Senate race, 12 constitutional amendments, local ballot initiatives and school board elections. Polls are open until 7 p.m. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Hillsborough County is asking voters to approve an extra half-cent on the sales tax to raise money to pay for replacing and repairing faulty air-conditioners, make capital improvements and build schools, and harden schools for security. The tax would raise about $138 million a year and be collected for 10 years. Gradebook. State law bars school districts from spending money on political advertisements. But it doesn’t stop school districts from using existing resources to communicate factual information about issues, such as a tax referendum. And so it is that every public school in Miami-Dade County has rotating messages on their school marquees drawing attention to the tax measure on today’s ballot, #362, which would raise money for teacher pay and school security. Miami Herald. Previewing the races for district 1, 2 and 5 seats on the Brevard County School Board. Florida Today.

School out of scholarship program: A private school in Orange County has been banned from receiving K-12 scholarships from the state because it hired a man who served 14 years in prison for manslaughter. Elite Preparatory Academy hired Ruben Saldaña to run the school’s after-school mixed martial arts fighting and “youth crime prevention” programs. Saldaña, 42, was convicted in 1999 of helping organize what police called a gang hit that left two men shot to death. The school has about 300 students, and about 230 of them get scholarships that are available for low-income students and those with disabilities. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer those scholarship programs. Orlando Sentinel.

Portables plan revised: Broward County school officials are considering an alternative to placing an elementary school of portable classrooms on the athletic fields of Don Estridge High Tech Middle School in Boca Raton. That plan, which would have had the fields closed for years to house students from Verde Elementary School, which is being torn down and rebuilt, was met with harsh criticism from Don Estridge parents. An alternative site has been found south of the athletic fields. Sun-Sentinel.

Gender guidelines: The Sarasota County School District’s new gender guidelines are the subject of today’s school board meeting. The discussion could focus on a clause that reads: “It is up to the student, and the student alone, to share her/his/their identity. In the case of elementary-age students often the student and parent are involved, however, this is on a case-by-case basis.” Board member Bridget Ziegler wants to require parental consent before students can change their gender pronoun or bathroom and locker-room use. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Charter schools: Duval County School District administrators are recommending the school board deny an application from a charter school because it doesn’t meet state and federal requirements. But the founder of the proposed Seventh Generation Classical Academy disagrees with that assessment, and says he and others will attend Wednesday’s meeting and appeal directly to the board. Michael Soud, founder of the charter school organization and pastor of CrossView Church, says the school would begin with 232 students in K-5 but grow to 810 students in K-12 within five years. Florida Times-Union. Sam Duell, associate policy director for charter schools at ExcelinEd, talks about charter school policies and trying to resolve the fight between traditional public schools and charter schools. Education Post. The Charter School of the Arts, Science and Technology in Wakulla opened 20 years ago, and has evolved from an F school to receiving A’s from the state the past two years. Wakulla News.

Extended school day: Volusia County school officials are working on the details to extend the day at elementary schools next fall by 30 minutes. The extra time was part of the contract agreement last week between teachers and the district. Several planning committees will be formed to consider such things as school start and close times, meals, transportation and more. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

School attendance: Chronic absenteeism of students who live in Sarasota County public housing projects has been reduced by 25 percent in the four years since the school board and Sarasota Housing Authority agreed to make it a lease violation if a child doesn’t attend school regularly and a parent or parents do nothing to help. And no families have been evicted. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Help for student/parents: For 40 years, the Sarasota County School District program Cyesis has focused on keeping teen parents on the path to graduation. But some are worried that the program is threatened by declining enrollment and a lack of commitment from district officials. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Home-schooling: Home-schooling has evolved from moms teaching their children at home to co-ops and programs that offer curriculum, instruction and even mentoring for parents. One such program is Class Source, a nonprofit enrichment program in Lutz that offers 50 courses, from English, math and civics to such topics as novel writing and life skills. redefinED.

District audit: The Lake County School District is beginning a year-long audit by internal auditor Tom Mock, who outlined his process to the school board Monday. He’ll review seven categories: the district’s physical inventory, internal accounts, risk assessment, documentation deficiencies, a printer and ink contract, transportation operations and a broad “other” category that included special projects and administration. Daily Commercial.

Personnel moves: The retirement of one principal and resignation of another leads to a series of changes in leadership at five Pasco County schools. Gradebook. Middleton High School principal Kim Moore will replace the retiring Tanly Cabrera as the district’s director of administration Nov. 16. Moore will spend time in both jobs until a replacement is found for Middleton. Gradebook. Brad Porinchak is named the new principal of Cranberry Elementary School in North Port, replacing the retiring Linda Daniels. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School fair for parents: A Tampa teacher plans a night for parents of students at Sheehy Elementary School. Information will be available about adult education, mental health counseling, financial literacy and more. Kaneshia Williams, a 5th-grade teacher, says helping the parents and getting them involved in their children’s education will give hope to the students. Gradebook.

Shooter had been fired as sub: Volusia County school officials say Scott Beierle, 40, who killed two woman and himself at a Tallahassee yoga studio Saturday, was fired as a fulltime teacher after two weeks in 2017 and then as a substitute teacher in May for inappropriately touching a female student, staring at girls and fondling himself. Beierle also worked briefly as a substitute teacher in the Leon County School District in 2015, but was fired a year later for looking at porn sites while teaching at a middle school. Daytona Beach News-JournalTallahassee DemocratAssociated Press. WFSU.

Teacher/coach fired: Charlie Tate, a teacher and head football coach at Winter Haven High School, is fired after an incident in which he pushed a cart that hit one student and grabbed another student who had cursed at him. Prosecutors say Tate won’t face criminal charges. Lakeland Ledger.

Student arrested: A 12-year-old Broward County student is arrested after allegedly posting a threat on social media against the Pembroke Pines Charter Middle-Central School. Police say the girl admitted posting the threat because she had been bullied. Sun-SentinelMiami Herald.

Autistic student put off bus: A Polk County substitute school bus driver is placed on leave after putting a 16-year-old autistic student off a bus almost 4 miles from his home. WFLA.

Student enrichment: Three seniors at West Shore Jr./Sr. High School in Brevard County had perfect scores on the ACT exam. Christian Camps, Maggie Dercole and Viorel Silaghi were among the 2,670 U.S. students with perfect 36 scores among the 2 million students taking the exam last year. The school was also named a National Blue Ribbon School for the third time. Florida Today. Desks, laptops, bookshelves, a 3-D printer and other items are donated to Griffin Middle School by Tallahassee Community College. Griffin has 100 more students than expected. Tallahassee Democrat. Crystal Lake Middle School, in Broward County, finishes second in the national Middle School Kindness Challenge promoted by the organization Stand for Children. WFOR. ILL-Abilities, a team of dancers with disabilities, performs for the students at the Oak Hill Academy in Jacksonville, a K-8 school for students with autism spectrum disorders or related disabilities. Florida Times-Union. Students at Milton High School in Santa Rosa County get instruction on the proper technique for genome/DNA sequencing, thanks to an alumnus. Pensacola News Journal. Claire Sattler, a 17-year-old senior at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, appears on the annual Jeopardy! Teen Tournament, which runs Wednesday through Nov. 20. Fort Myers News-Press.

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BY NextSteps staff