$47,500 starting teacher pay proposed, inaccurate study retracted and more

Teacher pay raises: Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking the Legislature to bump the minimum starting salary for Florida teachers to $47,500 as a way to address a teacher shortage. The state’s average starting salary is now $37,636, according to the National Education Association. The proposal would mean raises for more than 101,000 of the state’s 172,000-plus teachers, and would cost the state about $603 million. DeSantis says that’s doable. “If you really prioritize something, you can figure out a way to get it done and that’s what we’re doing here,” he said. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said the state ranks 26th in starting pay, and this proposal would bump it to 2nd. NEA president Fedrick Ingram welcomes the move, but added, “We still hope to hear about what Gov. DeSantis plans to do to retain experienced teachers who have devoted years to their students.” A spokeswoman for the governor, Helen Ferre, said “other teacher compensation programs are being reviewed. Stay tuned.” News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. WLRN. Sun Sentinel. Tallahassee Democrat. Politico Florida. WFSU. WJXT. CNN. WTLV. WPTV. Florida Phoenix. Florida Today. Florida Politics. Fort Myers News-Press. TCPalm. St. Augustine Record. Charlotte Sun. Education Week. Florida Department of Education.

Study was wrong, group admits: A national education reform organization is apologizing for a study it issued last week concluding that most of Florida’s largest school districts spent less on schools that have a majority of nonwhite students. After a critical response to the study from Miami-Dade County school officials, Education Reform Now acknowledged that it miscalculated the way students were counted, leading to incorrect conclusions. The revised study shows that the 10 largest Florida districts all spend significantly more in schools with the highest percentages of nonwhite students than in schools with the lowest percentages of nonwhite students. WLRN.

Schools getting A-Plus money: The state will distribute $131.5 million in recognition money of $100 per student to schools based on their student test scores, the Florida Department of Education has announced. The A-Plus funds will be distributed Oct. 18, and each school receiving money has until Feb. 1 to decide how it will be distributed. It can be used for bonuses, supplies or hiring temporary staff, and if schools can’t reach an agreement the money is evenly distributed as bonuses to teachers at the schools. Miami-Dade County, the state’s largest school district, is getting the most at $17.6 million. Tampa Bay Times.

Schools ask for help: More help is needed to address the anxiety and depression of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students affected by the 2018 shootings at the school, the Broward County School District says in applying for a “School Emergency Response to Violence” federal grant. Substance abuse and mental health problems are surging, and student test scores are declining, according to the application. Politico Florida. A screening of the documentary Angst, in which students, educators and parents talk about identifying symptoms of anxiety and ways to get help, will be shown Thursday at Plant High School in Tampa. It will be followed by a discussion about students’ mental health issues. Gradebook.

NAACP disputes district: St. Petersburg NAACP leaders disagree with Pinellas school officials that an incident at a high school last week was “racially insensitive.” During homecoming week at St. Petersburg High School, one white student mockingly whipped another white student. District and school officials condemned the incident, and disciplined those involved. But Maria Scruggs, president of the local NAACP chapter, said “we are very concerned that this type of overreaction desensitizes the public to the substantive and systemic issues that lead to racist practices and behaviors.” Tampa Bay Times.

Superintendent’s case: Manatee County school Superintendent Cynthia Saunders meets with the state Education Practices Commission today to settle a dispute with the Florida Department of Education. The DOE accused Saunders of manipulating data to boost district graduation rates in 2015 and 2016, before she became superintendent. Saunders reached an agreement with DOE in which she would neither admit to nor deny the allegations, but would be fined $750 and go on two years of probation if she ever took a position that required an educator’s certificate. The commission has to approve the settlement. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Grade-changing policies: The Santa Rosa County School District is making adjustments in the process used in changing grades for students, including using a multi-step grade change procedure and issuing a common grade change form to all schools. The recommendations were prompted after an assistant principal changed her daughter’s grades at Gulf Breeze High School last month. Pensacola News Journal.

AP testing investigation: A Volusia County School District investigation discloses that five top officials in the administration did not know the Mainland High School principal had given placebo Advanced Placement tests to hundreds of students, unearned grades to student-athletes and had assigned teachers to jobs they weren’t certified to do. That principal, Cheryl Salerno, was removed from the school and subsequently retired. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Education podcasts: Russ Sabella, a professor in the Marieb College of Health and Human Services at Florida Gulf Coast University, talks about the evolution in the duties of school counselors. WINK.

School board elections: Gina Messenger has announced she is running for re-election for her District 1 seat on the Manatee County School Board. She was first elected in 2016. She has no challengers yet. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Educator faces firing: An after-school director at a Palm Beach County elementary school faces dismissal after a district investigation concluded she sent lewd photos and videos to coworkers. By doing so, district officials say, Patricia Almaguer created a hostile work environment at Pierce Hammock Elementary School. Palm Beach Post.

Charter employees resign: Three employees of a Marion County charter school resign in a dispute with the board of directors over the way the school was being run. Leaving McIntosh Area School are director/principal Cindy Roach, a 2nd-grade teacher and a teacher’s aide. The school was recently placed in a financial corrective action plan due to declining enrollment. Ocala Star-Banner.

Students arrested: A 13-year-old Palm Beach County student is arrested and accused of making a hoax call about a shooting at Loggers’ Run Middle School in West Boca. Palm Beach Post. Sun Sentinel. A 19-year-old man is arrested and accused of making a threat against Lake Worth High School in a post on social media. Palm Beach Post.

Opinions on schools: Last week’s contract agreement between the Brevard County School District and the teachers union is remarkable, given the two sides’ history of animosity and impasses. Florida Today. Florida needs to boost pay to make 2020 the year of the teacher. State Sen. Joe Gruters, Bradenton Herald.

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BY NextSteps staff