The cost of safety: The Florida Department of Education is encouraging that face masks be worn when schools reopen, but isn’t making it a requirement. One of the reasons is cost. In just one large district, Hillsborough County, the pricetag of issuing masks to each of the district’s 220,000 students every day would be $9 million a month, Superintendent Addison Davis said during an education forum Thursday to discuss the logistical hurdles of reopening. And buying enough buses to maintain the recommended social distancing would cost $310 million, he said. “It just can’t happen,” Davis said. Instead, the district will issue reusable masks to employees, who will not be required to wear them, and daily masks to students who ride the bus. Politico Florida. Florida Politics. Gradebook. WKMG. WTSP. WTVT.
More on reopening schools: Pasco County students will have three learning options when schools reopen in August. They can attend in person, enroll in virtual classes and work at their own pace and contact teachers only when necessary, or follow courses online as they are happening and maintain a normal school schedule. Parents are being asked to make a choice and commit to it for at least a semester. Survey data helped form the options, said Superintendent Kurt Browning. “The plan is really parent driven,” he said. Tampa Bay Times. WTSP. WUSF. Citrus and Polk school districts also announced their reopening plans. Both are offering in-person instruction with options for remote learning. WTVT. WFLA. Fifty-five percent of Manatee County families want students back in school in the fall, according to a district survey. Seventeen percent preferred a continuation of online learning, and 21 percent back a blended model of both in-person and remote instruction. Bradenton Herald. The Osceola County School District is still working on the details of its reopening plan, but said schools will be open for students Aug. 10. A recent survey showed that 45 percent of parents would like to see their children back in classrooms, while 29 percent want to continue with remote learning, 6 percent want to enroll in the Osceola Virtual School, and almost 20 percent would like a blended version of in-person and online learning. Osceola News-Gazette. Seminole County schools have begun surveying parents about reopening preferences. WFTV. Here are questions to ask yourself before making a decision whether to send your child back to school in August. Sun Sentinel.
Reopening universities: Florida State University’s trustees have approved the school’s reopening plan. WCTV. The University of West Florida’s reopening plan includes a requirement for students and staff to wear face masks, undergo health screenings, maintain social distancing, and will offer a mixture of online and in-person classes. WEAR. Gulf Coast State College has reopened its campuses, with social distancing and the use of masks indoors required. Panama City News Herald. WJHG.
Budget concerns: Volusia County School Board members have approved $8.5 million in cuts for the school year that begins July 1, but still face a $14 million shortfall in funding. About $15.3 million in federal aid is coming, but it can only be used for certain spending and isn’t recurring, so school officials are still weighing other cuts. The board must approve a budget by September. Daytona Beach News-Journal. With state sales tax revenues in freefall, Florida TaxWatch is recommending that Gov. Ron DeSantis cut $6 billion from the budget that goes into effect July 1. Among the targets: The $500 million the Legislature approved for teacher raises at DeSantis’ urging. The government watchdog is suggesting the state postpone the raises until January or even until July 2021. DeSantis has said he will be vetoing many items, including some of his own priorities. But he’s also said he hopes to save the raises. Florida Phoenix. Florida Politics.
More on the coronavirus: Four Escambia County School District employees have tested positive for the coronavirus. All work in the district’s administrative offices, not at schools. WEAR. Graduating Volusia County students will get just two tickets for commencement ceremonies July 6-11 at the Ocean Center, district officials have announced. The graduations will be streamed online. WKMG. While some students are eager to get back into school classrooms, black educators say there are many black students who prefer to stay at home and learn remotely in what they call a culturally sensitive and safe environment. Education Dive. Arizona State University is providing a glimpse into the future of virtual learning with its BioBeyond course, which offers three-dimensional, immersive experiences and master concepts and has been made available for K-12 schools. redefinED.
Court hands Dreamers a win: The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that provides work authorizations and temporary reprieves from the possibility of deportation for about 650,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Most of the so-called “Dreamers” are high school and college students, and about 32,000 live in Florida. The court ruled 5-4 that the administration did not take the proper steps to end DACA. Dreamers and their advocates praised the decision, while President Trump called it horrible and politically charged and tweeted, “Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?” Associated Press. Miami Herald. Politico Florida. Florida Politics. Education Dive. States Newsroom. The 74. WLRN. Will the president try again to kill the program? Politico.
Schools and the Confederacy: The protests over the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer have brought new attention to an old issue: schools with heroes of the Confederacy. At least 174 K-12 schools in 16 states, mostly in the South, still carry the names of Confederate men, according to an analysis of federal data. Florida has 16, the fourth-most. Texas has 45, Virginia 24 and Georgia 17. Most were named after Gen. Robert E. Lee. Just this week, school boards in Duval and Alachua counties have voted to start the process to rename seven schools. Education Week.
Rubio offers NCAA help: A bill to protect the NCAA from being challenged in court by former and current athletes if it amends its rules and allows college athletes to profit from the use of their names, images or likenesses has been filed by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida. Just last week, Gov. DeSantis signed a bill allowing athletes to be compensated. Similar bills have been approved in two states and are being considered by others, but Rubio wants a single national standard. “We can’t have 50 separate laws,” Rubio said. “It will destroy college athletics.” Associated Press. Miami Herald.
Reorganization paused: A plan to reorganize the Palm Beach County School District’s administrative hierarchy has been withdrawn by Superintendent Donald Fennoy. His proposal would have eliminated two positions, deputy superintendent and chief of staff, and reassigned the men who hold those posts to other jobs. Objections were quickly raised by the school board and community members who worried that the changes would have diminished the district’s focus on achieving educational equity. Fennoy said he will discuss the plan in more depth with board members. Palm Beach Post.
Mobile classroom: The Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County has transformed an old school bus into a mobile preschool classroom. Starting at the end of this month, the Mobile Learning Lab will visit child-care centers to offer children lessons in science, technology, engineering, math and the arts. “The superintendent and I have a motto that if you can’t make it to get your education and come to us, we’ll bring it to you,” said Paul Sharff, the chief executive officer for the Early Learning Coalition. Bradenton Herald.
Board wants to fight: A 3-2 majority of the Sarasota County School Board wants to continue appealing a court ruling in a case in which a student was mistakenly put in a program for students with severe cognitive disabilities. The court ordered the district to pay for the student to attend private school and tutoring, and compensate his family for the six years of missed education. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Personnel moves: Leslie Brown, the Broward County School District’s chief portfolio services officer, has been named superintendent for the East Baton Rouge (La.) Parish school district. WBRZ. The Advocate. Sarasota County School Board member Jane Goodwin has been voted in as president of the Florida School Boards Association, and Citrus County’s Thomas Kennedy is the new vice president. Chris Patricca of Lee County is the president-elect. Citrus County Chronicle.
School board elections: Candidates for the District 2 seat on the Sarasota County School Board talk about district issues such as choosing a new superintendent, taxes, budget cuts and more. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Opinions on schools: We need students to be safe in schools, but teachers need to feel safe, too. We can’t do our jobs if we don’t. Brandon Haught, Orlando Sentinel. Unless legislative leaders and governors receive some urgent vision, the poor family will unnecessarily remain an impotent institution. With the current population demand that we recognize the poor to be as human as the rest of us, might we instead begin to honor all parents as dignified fellow creatures? John E. Coons, redefinED.