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Back to school countdown begins as tax holiday ends and more

Unicorn hunters: The Hillsborough County School Board is in search of a new superintendent and has hired a search firm to find a “unicorn.” Tampa Bay Times. WTSP.

Active shooter drills: Students in Sarasota County Schools District can expect ten active shooter drills, or one every month, this school year. WFLA.

Back to school gifts: Newlywed couple asks guests to donate back-to-school items instead of wedding presents. Tampa Bay Times, The Week.

Big money: Duval County School Board pulls an agenda item that would have increased retirement contribution bonuses from 8 percent of income to over 25 percent for certain senior administrators. The proposed changes would have cost the district $287,930 annually for just 12 employees. WJAX.

Countdown begins: Summer is coming to a close and teachers across Florida scramble to get ready for the new school year. Florida Today. The lazy days of summer are almost over and its time to get your kids ready for the school routine. WTSP.

Mental health and school safety: Duval County Public Schools will receive $8.7 million to boost school safety and another $3.2 million for mental health. WJAX. Hillsborough County students will see more cross guards and other improvements on their walks to and from school. WTSP.

Summer camp: Jupiter area student brings lacrosse to British Virgin Islands as part of summer project. Palm Beach Post. Jacksonville native and former NFL player Mario Butler completed a month long STEM and Sports camp with area students. Jacksonville Times-Union.

School busing: Palm Beach County schools, which owns more than 700 school buses, unveils a new online app to help parents find the bus routes for their kids before school starts next week. Palm Beach Post.

School board elections: Debbi Hixon, whose husband was killed in the Stoneman Douglas shootings last year, becomes the third person related to a victim of the shooting, to seek political office at the Broward County School Board. Sun Sentinel. Rep. Jason Fischer proposes having a Mayoral appointed school board in Duval County instead of an elected board. Jacksonville Times-Union.

Tax free holiday: Tax free back-to-school shopping continues through today, Tuesday, August 6th. WFLA, WTSP, WFOR. Its not just parents taking advantage of the tax free holiday, but teachers too. WFLA.

Opinions on schools: Reinventing middle schools won’t work, says middle school teacher. She argues for ending standardized testing, eliminating A-F grades, adding more school counselors and reducing class size. Mayade Ersoff, Miami Herald. Former educator turned school choice advocate reflects on Jeb Bush’s A+ plan. Florida has come a long way since she was a student in 1981. redefinED.

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BY Patrick R. Gibbons

Patrick Gibbons is public affairs manager at Step Up for Students and a research fellow for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. A former teacher, he lived in Las Vegas, Nev., for five years, where he worked as an education writer and researcher. He can be reached at (813) 498.1991 or emailed at Follow Patrick on Twitter: at @PatrickRGibbons and @redefinEDonline.