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Schools closed for Dorian, state’s role in accountability, committee seats and more

Hurricane effects: Hurricane Dorian is forecast to affect schools throughout the state as it approaches to the east coast of the state. More than 40 of Florida’s 67 school districts have canceled classes for students for today, and some will be closed through Wednesday or longer. Florida Department of Education. Associated Press. Miami Herald. Sun Sentinel. WTVJ. Palm Beach Post. WLRN. TCPalm. Florida Today. Daytona Beach News-Journal. WUFT. Flagler Live. Space Coast Daily. St. Augustine Record. Florida Times-Union. WJXT. WJAX. Orlando Sentinel. WFTV. WKMG. Daily Commercial. Villages-News. Polk County School District. Gainesville Sun. Ocala Star-Banner. WTXL. Citrus County Chronicle. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA. WTVT. WTSP. WFTX. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Naples Daily News. Fort Myers News-Press. WINK. Charlotte Sun. It’s been almost a year since Hurricane Michael ripped through the Florida Panhandle, but volunteers are still packing relief bags for needy students. Panama City News Herald.

School accountability: Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is pushing for a new rule that would give the state greater authority over school districts’ plans to turn around struggling schools. The state Board of Education would be given the power to revoke turnaround plans that aren’t making progress quickly enough, with districts being given 20 days to submit revisions. The turnaround options would include keeping the school under district management, closing the school or turning it over to management by a charter school or external operator. The BOE will consider the rule at its Sept. 20 meeting. Politico Florida.

Education committee: The Legislature’s PreK-12 Quality subcommittee has been eliminated and is being folded into the PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee. A spokesman for House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, said the two committees’ responsibilities overlapped, and the issues could better be “focused and debated in a single subcommittee.” The innovation committee was expanded from 15 to 18 members, but one notable omission was State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, who has been critical of the Republicans’ education ideas and outspoken in her criticism. “I can only assume my strong voice on education issues led to my removal,” she said. Gradebook. Florida Politics.

Board, superintendent clash: Tensions between Lee County Superintendent Greg Adkins and some school board members have intensified over a district employee’s decision to track leaked district documents. Board member Melisa Giovannelli demanded that Adkins say whether he knew what the employee was doing. Adkins refused, though he later agreed with the unnamed person’s actions. Adkins says that the leaking of documents on social media is generating erroneous complaints against the district, and responding to those complaints is a waste of money and employee time. Fort Myers News-Press.

Superintendent’s payday: Okaloosa County School Board members are expressing their displeasure over the way the suspension and subsequent reinstatement of former superintendent Mary Beth Jackson was handled by Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis suspended Jackson for “neglect of duty and incompetence” in January, then reinstated her six months later. While Jackson subsequently resigned, the reinstatement entitles her to $71,000 in back and pay and benefits and allows her to retain her educator’s certificate. The board also had to pay another superintendent about $60,000 during Jackson’s suspension, and Jackson is suing for $282,000 in legal costs. The Okaloosa board is responsible for all those costs. Florida Phoenix.

Tax fight gets personal: The fight over whether to approve the Duval County School Board’s request for a referendum to increase the sales tax has led to angry words between two Jacksonville City Council members. Matt Carlucci, who favored putting the sales tax vote before voters, castigated colleague Aaron Bowman, who opposed the measure, over his attitude toward the school district. Bowman responded by calling Carlucci a “has-been.” The council rejected the board’s request. Florida Politics.

Diversity study: Many white teachers and principals believe they are not prepared to meet the needs of a diverse student body, according to a survey of 15,000 teachers and 3,000 principals conducted by the RAND Corp. “The general goal is to connect with students, and if they (teachers and principals) don’t feel they had the preparation to do that, it’s hard to address any need they may have, academically or personal. Not that they have to be the same race, but that connection is strengthened by some level of similarity,” said William R. Johnston, the lead author of the study. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Mental health summit: Lawmakers, school mental health counselors and teenagers meet to discuss ways to address the mental health and suicide crisis among students. Suicide is the third-leading causes of death among people between 15 and 24 years old, and it’s estimated that as many as 15 percent of Broward County students consider suicide every year. Sun Sentinel.

School gets I.B. program: Pine View Elementary School in Pasco County has started an International Baccalaureate program. It’s the first such elementary IB program in the county. “The IB framework means students learn to think independently, drive their own learning, become culturally aware through a second language and be able to engage with people in a globalized world,” said Pine View principal Kay Moore. Tampa Bay Times.

Charter, school split: The Burns Science and Technology Charter School in Edgewater has decided against collaborating with the new Southeast Volusia School of Science and Technology. Instead, the Burns K-8 school plans to develop its own curriculum and eventually become a K-12 school for STEM courses. SEV Sci-Tech, meanwhile, will contract with another charter school provider to run the school, which opens next August. A Burns administrator cited a difference of opinion for the split. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Districts win grants: The Pasco County School District has won a $1 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to train teachers and provide supplies for the conversion to the “illustrative math” method of instruction. It’s one of 12 U.S. districts chosen for the grants. Gradebook. The Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation gets a $50,000 grant from the Boeing Corp. to train middle-schoolers on using 3D printing technology. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Notable deaths: Robert Bryant, former Gadsden County school superintendent and one of the first African-Americans to hold that job in the state, has died in Tallahassee at the age of 90. Tallahassee Democrat. Lucille Baldwin Holliday Brown, who was thought to be the first black woman librarian in Leon County and worked 39 years for the school district, has died in Tallahassee at the age of 97. Tallahassee Democrat.

Emergency kits: Every Okaloosa County high school now has an emergency Stop the Bleed kit, thanks to a partnership between the school district and Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. School officials say school employees will be trained on how to properly use the $800 kits, which can be used to stop traumatic bleeding in emergency situations. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Sports injuries: September is the worst month for students’ sports-related injuries, according to an analysis of two decades of hospital data. Football accounts for more than half the injuries, according to numbers from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a database run by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. GateHouse Media.

Naming rights: School districts in Florida and Texas are increasingly selling naming rights to sports stadiums to boost local budgets. For most school districts, the rights will sell for $100,000 or less. Last month, three Palm Beach County schools sold naming rights for about $175,000 a year, but one Texas school scored a deal for up to $3 million over 10 years. Fox Business.

Ex-teacher convicted: A former Orange County middle school teacher is found guilty of trying to meet a teenager for sex in 2017. Jason D. Sellards, 50, was a language arts teacher at Wolf Lake Middle School in Apopka when he arranged to meet a 15-year-old. But the meeting was a sting operation, and Sellards was arrested and later fired. Daily Commercial.

School bus mistake: The Lee County School District said a miscommunication led to a 6-year-old student being dropped off by a school bus more than a mile from her normal stop. The girl walked home along a busy Fort Myers highway. District officials say they are investigating. Fort Myers News-Press.

Opinions on schools: Accountability works best when it’s applied equally. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran did not adequately serve Gov. Ron DeSantis or the field of education when he sought to let a Davie charter school off the hook for failing to adhere to state law on school security. Sun Sentinel. The hearing into the termination of Lincoln Memorial Academy’s charter showed a remarkable lack of a knowledge on the part of those running the school. Chris Anderson, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The College Board made the right call to dump the adversity scoring for the SAT. Lakeland Ledger. Florida lawmakers have thrown the kitchen sink at improving early literacy, and results have improved. Matthew Ladner, redefinED.

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BY NextSteps staff