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Florida schools roundup: Scholarships wait list, shooting survivors’ book and more

Scholarships waiting list: Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling on the Legislature to provide more funding for state K-12 tax credit scholarships so the wait-list of 13,000 students can be reduced. DeSantis, speaking on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Piney Grove Boys Academy in Lauderdale Lakes, says eliminating the backlog “will be a priority for me in this next legislative session.” About 100,000 low-income students use the scholarships to attend private schools. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the scholarship. GateHouseFlorida Politics. redefinED. WPLG. Orlando Weekly. Miami Herald. Florida is one of four states making school choice a priority. The 74.

School shooting book: Forty-three students and teachers who survived the massacre last February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School collaborate on a book that shares their experiences and feelings from that day. Sarah Lerner, a journalism teacher, says writing Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories was a way to fight the tragedy with words and activism. Sun SentinelAssociated Press.

School security: The Lake School School District has new radios for making contact with law enforcement and other first responders. The technology upgrade includes GPS tracking and local texting, and have been placed in all school buses, police cruisers and other emergency vehicles. Daily Commercial. At an annual summit of Citrus County elected leaders, school officials ask county commissioners for ongoing help with security issues, specifically by requiring the sheriff to provide training for non-sworn armed security officers. Citrus County Chronicle.

Teacher honored: Jessica Watkins, a 4th-grade teacher at Yulee Elementary School, is named the Nassau County School District’s teacher of the year. WJXT.

Superintendent’s evaluation: Monroe County School Board members will formally evaluate Superintendent Mark Porter at today’s meeting. Board chair Bobby Highsmith praises Porter for maintaining the district’s A grade even as it was recovering from Hurricane Irma, while member Mindy Conn thinks Porter needs to improve his relationships with school principals and other workers. Key West Citizen.

Board differences: Even after a training session last week designed to unify the Sarasota County School Board, tensions surfaced among the five members and with Superintendent Todd Bowden. The breakdown is along philosophical lines of whether board members are supposed to manage or advocate. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Board member’s goals: New Charlotte County School Board member Cara Reynolds brings more than seven years of teaching experience to the board, and says improving communication between the district and parents is a top priority. Charlotte Sun.

Open enrollment: Open enrollment has begun for students in Clay County’s public schools. The program allows students to transfer to a school outside his or her zone if there are spots available Six elementary schools, two middle schools and three high schools have open seats. WJXT.

Admissions mistake: The University of South Florida St. Petersburg is apologizing for mistakenly sending congratulatory emails of admission to about 430 high school seniors who had been rejected. “We were dismayed to learn that about 430 acceptance emails were mistakenly sent on Saturday due to human error,” says university spokesman Carrie O’Brion, who added that the students will be contacted to discuss “possible pathways for admission to USF St. Petersburg in the future.” WFLA. WTSP.

Opinions on schools: Manatee County voters were kept in the dark about allegations of possible fraud over graduation rates involving a senior school district official before voting on referendums. Chris Anderson, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Private schools in Florida are using data to drive instruction like they’ve never done before, and more students making academic progress. Carol Macedonia, The 74. Can there be any doubt that Andrew Pollack isn’t a Florida Board of Education return shoo-in, despite Gov. Ron DeSantis’ nullification of his appointment by former Gov. Rick Scott? Brad Slager, Sunshine State News. A Bible study bill for Florida high schools? Thou shalt not. Joe Henderson, Florida Politics.

Student enrichment: A Polk County theatrical group is putting on productions to benefit the food bank at Loughman Oaks Elementary School in Davenport, which provides meals on weekends for low-income students. Lakeland Ledger.

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BY NextSteps staff