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Fewer active-shooter drills, better guardian training urged, funds for charters and more

Panel’s recommendations: The number of active-shooter drills in schools should be reduced to six a year, school guardians should be trained only by sheriffs and further research is needed on how to manage students who are identified as threats, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission is recommending in its draft report to the Legislature. The commission plans to conclude its work today. Associated Press. Sun Sentinel. WTVT. WLRN. Members of the state commission say they’re “disturbed” by a judge’s ruling to dismiss charges against a 15-year-old student who had a detailed, written plan outlining an attack at Baker County High School. The judge ruled that prosecutors didn’t prove the threat was “transmitted” under state law. News Service of Florida. A Broward County School District investigation has cleared a security specialist of wrongdoing for his actions during the Parkland school shootings. Kelvin Greenleaf had been accused of opening the school gates too early on the day of the shootings and failing to properly supervise other campus monitors. Investigations into the actions of four other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School officials are continuing. Sun Sentinel.

Security in schools: Hernando County school officials have decided not to go ahead with a proposal to create their own police force. The idea was proposed two weeks ago, but Superintendent John Stratton announced Tuesday that “after weighing all the options, I feel the timing isn’t right for such a move.” Sheriff Al Nienhuis and county commission chair Jeff Holcomb had criticized the proposal. Stratton said the district will continue to contract with the sheriff for school resource officers, but will also consider adding school guardians for additional coverage. Tampa Bay Times. School districts around the country have chosen to create their own police forces to guard schools. The 74.

‘Job growth’ funds to charters: A Senate committee unanimously approves a bill that would allow money from the state’s Job Growth Grant Fund to go to charter schools with career and technical education “graduation pathway” programs. S.B. 130 is sponsored by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, and was approved by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. Gov. Ron DeSantis has asked the Legislature to approve $85 million for the fund, which was created in 2017. Traditional public schools that offer career and technical education are also eligible for grants. News Service of Florida. Florida Politics.

Superintendent search: The search for a new superintendent of the Volusia County School District has been narrowed by the school board to three candidates: Ronald “Scott” Fritz, the chief of staff for teaching, leading and learning for the Osceola County School District; David Moore, an assistant superintendent for the Miami-Dade County district; and Peter Licata, a regional superintendent for the Palm Beach County district. Interviews are scheduled Nov. 7 and 8, with the board making its choice to replace interim Superintendent Tim Egnor at its Nov. 12 meeting. Palm Beach Post. Volusia County Schools. Flagler County School Board members say they will collect input from the community through focus groups, an advisory group, a survey and a community forum in its search for a new superintendent. Superintendent James Tager is retiring next June. Flagler Live.

Audit hits school CEO: A Palm Beach County charter school that offers a practical nursing program is charging nearly three times what the state permits, is on probation for its low passing rate and likely doesn’t have the credentials to even offer the program, according to an audit by the school district’s inspector general. And Emma Banks, the president and CEO of Inlet Grove High School in Riviera Beach, took a $16,000 advance from the school, ostensibly to buy houses where homeless students could stay. Three months later, when there was no progress made, she returned the money. The school board will discuss the findings of the audit at tonight’s meeting. Palm Beach Post.

Medical marijuana in schools: Lake County School Board members tentatively approve a policy to allow medical marijuana to be administered to students on campuses. A caregiver would be required to bring the treatment to the school, administer it and then leave with it. The final board vote is next month. Spectrum News 13.

Therapist solution in works: Brevard County School Board members say they will look for a solution that will allow a registered behavior technician to be in the classroom with a nonverbal 7-year-old boy with autistic-like symptoms. District officials denied the technician access, citing a state law that does not specify that RBTs are allowed in schools. The parents have appealed to the board, which is offering to create a workaround until the law is amended. Florida Today.

Contract negotiations: A contract impasse between the Indian River County School District and its teachers union was ended when the school board voted unanimously to support Superintendent Susan Moxley’s recommendation for teacher performance-pay increases. Annual contract teachers rated highly effective will get a $1,400 raise, and effective teachers will get $1,100. Professional service contract teachers hired before 2011 will get $1,000 more, and those teachers who are rated highly effective will receive $1,200. TCPalm.

Superintendent’s evaluation: Charlotte County school Superintendent Steve Dionisio gets a “highly effective” rating from the school board on his annual evaluation. He was graded on student achievement, instructional leadership, operational leadership and professional and ethical behaviors, and received an overall score of 8.96 out of 10. Charlotte Sun.

Testing declines: Alachua County School Board members say they’re concerned about student declines in the passing rates on end-of-course math exams. The number of high school students passing the geometry exams dropped 15 percent and 4 percent for algebra, leaving some schools under a 50 percent pass rate. WUFT.

Recognition money: Three Highlands County school will receive $194,319 in A-Plus recognition money from the state for their 2018-2019 academic performance. Lake Country, Lake Placid and Sun ‘N Lake elementary schools will each receive $100 per student for improving a grade. The schools will decide how to spend the money, which can be used for staff bonuses, materials or temporary staff. Highlands News-Sun.

Teachers honored: Jacqueline Carrero, who teaches reading to English-language learners at Driftwood Middle School in Hollywood, is one of 13 U.S. educators chosen to receive Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grants. Carrero will spend six weeks in Kolkata, India, starting in July, instructing Indian teachers on ways to teach English as a second/foreign language. Hollywood Gazette. Three teachers are presented with Excellence in Education award from Gov. Ron and Casey DeSantis as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. Honored were Jorge Bauzo of Chipley High School in Washington County; Isabel Cavaliere Enrique of Keene’s Crossing Elementary in Orange County; and Susana Carlino, of Conniston Middle School in Palm Beach County. WMBB. Four Florida K-12 teachers have been chosen to receive Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching given by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation. They are: Karina Moran, Manatee Elementary; Tiffany Oliver, T.R. Robinson High; Lorraine Plageman, Jupiter Community High; and Laura Steele, Wright Elementary. The White House.

Personnel moves: Randy Koenigsfeld has retired as principal of the Schwettman Education Center in Pasco County. He had led the 114-student alternative school for a decade. Gradebook. Toby Johnson has been named as principal of Martinez Middle School in Hillsborough. He replaces Brent McBrien, who was suspended without pay for being in an inappropriate online photograph. The school board also approved the appointment of Christina Raburn as principal of Strawberry Crest High School. Gradebook.

Board duties Q&A: Two students talk about why they wanted to be school representatives on the Education Foundation of Sarasota County board of directors, and what they hope to achieve. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School schedules: Two months into the school year, many Volusia County parents and students are still grumbling about the new school schedules. Generally, middle school parents are the unhappiest, since their schools don’t begin until 9:30 a.m., and high school parents are the happiest since their schools start at 8:30 a.m. “Everyone has their own family personal situations and dealing with getting to work and childcare and all those other things,” said school board chair Carl Persis. “They just gotta kind of work it out somehow. And they usually do.” Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Helping with Census: Hillsborough County School Board members are discussing ways to encourage residents to complete the Census. Federal funding provides about 11 percent of the district’s revenue. Gradebook.

New school gets a name: A high school that opens next August in south Hillsborough County will be named Jule F. Sumner High School, the school board has decided. Jule Sumner was an early pioneer in Hillsborough County, settling there in 1907 and starting a cattle ranch. The school is designed to hold more than 2,900 students. Patch.

New school planned: The Pinellas County School District announces plans to partner with the YMCA to build a new middle school in northeast St. Petersburg. The school is projected to open in August 2021 with up to 800 students. The YMCA will pay for the design and construction of the gymnasium, cafeteria and pool, with the school district picking up the rest of the costs. Patch.

Preschool decision delayed: A decision on a proposal to turn a historic home into a preschool has been delayed by the Lakeland Planning and Zoning Board while the home’s owners negotiate for more parking spots. Lakeland Ledger.

Settlement proposed: The Palm Beach School Board will consider settling a retaliation claim made by a technology worker who was fired in 2010. Leha “Bonnie” Wright said she was fired for accusing her supervisor of racial bias. That claim was rejected by a jury, which did determine the school district retaliated by firing her after she filed the complaint and awarded her $206,000. An appeals court threw out the verdict in 2017, and a retrial was set to start this month. The settlement agreement for $155,000 would end the case. Palm Beach Post.

Heat, exertion killed player: A 14-year-old Tampa high school football player who collapsed during conditioning drills four months ago died from exertional hyperthermia, according to the autopsy report released Tuesday by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Department. Hezekiah B. Walters’ body temperature was above 104 degrees, the autopsy disclosed, and he had a thickening of his heart muscle and too much sodium in the blood due to dehydration. Tampa Bay Times.

Football season canceled: A rash of injuries has prompted a Pasco County high school football team to cancel its final three games. Gulf High School has just 17 players, and lost four of them in the past several weeks because of a broken leg and three concussions. “Safety and well being come first,” said principal Jeff Morgenstein. “It was a difficult decision.” Tampa Bay Times.

School bus hits bicyclist: A bicyclist is seriously injured after being hit by a Palm Beach County school district bus in Delray Beach on Tuesday. No students were on the bus at the time. Police are investigating. Palm Beach Post.

School bus, truck collide: An Avon Park High School student was hospitalized when a Highlands County school bus was hit head-on by a pickup truck. Twenty students were on the bus at the time of the accident Tuesday afternoon. WFLA. WFTS.

Opinions on schools: The massive Miami-Dade County School District could have done what many districts do and fought the expansion of educational choice. Instead, under the leadership of Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, the fifth-biggest district in America decided to crank up its own creative, choice-driven programming. Ron Matus, EducationNext. Florida is one of 47 states allowing computer science to count as math credit. When computer science begins to count as math or science, it makes sense to ask if these changes are helping America’s students or hurting them. Chris Orban, Daytona Beach News-Journal. The Volusia County School District’s projected $8 million budget deficit is a big deal because it undermines confidence in the ability of local school officials to manage the budget, which has grown to nearly $1 billion annually. Daytona Beach News-Journal. True college readiness should be approached as a marathon, rather than a sprint, weaving academics with character, personal interests and mental health from the very beginning of a student’s educational journey. Hilmi Isikli, Orlando Sentinel. The school board’s decision to hire an educational consulting firm isn’t really about “branding.” It’s about communicating with parents, recruiting teachers, supporting our staff, building community support and maintaining our budget so we can deliver the highest quality education our students deserve. Leon County School Board chair Rosanne Wood, Tallahassee Democrat.

Student enrichment: One hundred and six high school students from the central Florida counties of Orange, Lake, Osceola and Seminole have been named as semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship competition. Orlando Sentinel. Twelve students and three teachers from Oxbridge Academy in Palm Beach County traveled to the Dominican Republic to fit everyone in a school for the deaf with new hearing aids. Palm Beach Post.

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BY NextSteps staff