Summer learning, yearbook distribution, special election, district residency, history rule and more

Around the state: School is out in Miami-Dade and Broward counties but more than 100,000 students are expected to attend summer programs, a Broward County high school resumes the distribution of its yearbook that contains coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement after a disclaimer from the principal was added, an agreement between the Manatee school board and county commissioners will place future votes for the renewal of a tax hike only on general election dates, a lawsuit is being considered over the election of an Alachua school board member who represents one district but lives in another, an Escambia charter school principal is retiring at the age of 80, and the state Board of Education meets today to consider a proposed rule restricting how history can be taught in Florida classrooms. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade, Broward: Wednesday was the last day of school in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, but the summer will be short for many students. More than 62,000 Miami-Dade students and 40,000 in Broward have signed up or expressed an interest in participating in summer programs to catch up on learning lost during the pandemic. Miami-Dade district officials said they will spend more than $50 million on its summer program. WPLG. WSVN. Miami Herald. Teacher Glenda Moton’s North Miami Senior High School 9th-graders detailed how they made it through the school year during a pandemic with their class book project, Hopes and Fears: Learning Academically in a COVID-19 Environment. Miami Herald. Distribution of the West Broward High School yearbook has resumed with two pages of coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement remaining. But a note from principal Brad Fatout has also been included that says, “Please note that as a governmental agency, the School Board of Broward County must maintain a neutral stance on all political views. As such, any political views expressed in the 2021 West Broward yearbook are not sponsored by the District.” Sun Sentinel. WFOR. Miami Herald.

Duval: A former high school teacher in Jacksonville has pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Christine Dennard, 34, who was the chorus director at First Coast High School, was arrested in late 2019 after a sheriff’s office investigation determined that she had an “intimate relationship” with a 16-year-old student for about five months in 2018. WJXT.

Brevard: Donald Lawton Wood, who was a longtime band director at Southwest Junior High School, Hoover Junior High School and Palm Bay High School, has died in Orlando at the age of 86. Space Coast Daily.

Manatee: Voters will decide in a special election Nov. 2 whether to extend an additional 1-mill tax for the school district to pay teachers higher salaries, improve STEM programs and add 30 minutes to the school day. County commissioners agreed to hold the special election only after school board members promised that future votes would be held only in on a general election date. Commissioners had complained that having a special election for the tax hike was a form of voter suppression because so few people voted, and that it’s an unnecessary cost. Bradenton Herald.

St. Johns: St. Augustine High School students with intellectual disabilities and autism have planted two gardens at the school with the help of a grant. Amy Arnow, who teaches science and other subjects, said planting and tending the gardens is teaching her students about water conservation and the life cycles of plants. St. Augustine Record.

Sarasota: Eight district schools will have new principals when the next academic year begins Aug. 10. Two of the jobs opened up when North Port High School principal Brandon Johnson took a job as the district’s executive director of elementary schools and Philippi Shores Elementary principal Allison Foster was named the district’s new executive director of Human Resources and Labor Relations. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Escambia: Dee Wolfe-Sullivan is retiring as the principal at Byrneville Elementary School in Century — at the age of 80 after a 58-year career as an educator, 50 of them at nine different schools in Escambia. Wolfe-Sullivan took the job at Byrneville in 2002 when the school was about to be closed for financial reasons, but the community intervened and turned it into a charter school. She said she’s retiring because it’s time for someone younger to take over. “I’m going to miss it terribly. My mind keeps telling me ‘Yes, you need to do this. You’ve got to do this.’ My heart is breaking,” she said. Pensacola News Journal. Argos, a service dog, walked across the stage at the Tate High School graduation ceremony this week to accept the diploma of Tea Clark. Argos and Tea, who is in a motorized wheelchair, received a standing ovation. WEAR.

Clay: The school board has voted to start the process to make face masks optional for the 2021-2022 school year as part of its move into Phase 2 of the reopening plan. Masks will still be encouraged, social distancing will be observed and contact tracing will continue. Superintendent David Broskie also said that ClayOne Online, the hybrid learning program that allowed remote students to follow their classes live, won’t be offered. Students can either attend school in person or enroll in the Clay Virtual Academy, which is a more independent approach to online learning. Clay Today.

Leon: James S. Rickards High School’s Science Olympiad team recently became the first Title I school team to win the state championship in the Florida Science Olympiad competition, and a week later two team members placed first at nationals in the category called “Gravity Vehicle.” Karl Akuoko and Kevin Wang built a car that, when pushed down a ramp, would stop as close as possible to a designated spot. Tallahassee Democrat.

Alachua: A candidate who lost the District 2 school board election to Diyonne McGraw said she and others are considering filing a lawsuit to challenge the results. McGraw actually lives in District 4, and now says she was relying on the supervisor of elections when she filed to run. McGraw has said she won’t resign. “I was elected by the people, everybody had the opportunity to vote for me and I did nothing wrong,” she said. “I was qualified by the supervisor of election office and it was sent off to the state, qualified by the division of elections.” Gainesville Sun.

Santa Rosa: A state senator is being roasted by a YouTube personality for a graduation speech last weekend that veered into politics. Sen. Doug Broxton, R-Gulf Breeze, was addressing the Gulf Breeze High School graduating class when he said, “I’m certain many times you went home saying, how stupid can government be, making you do the things you had to do. Canceled classes, distance learning, loss of sports, social distancing, contact tracing, quarantining, and worst of all, wearing a mask — unprecedented challenges, demands and sacrifices, but somehow you have survived and you’re here and ready for the next stage of your life.” Broxton called the speech innocuous, but Farron Cousins, a progressive YouTube personality whose son was in the graduating class, said it was right wing “indoctrination.” Florida Politics.

Bay: This year’s state budget includes $554,849 for the district to raise salaries for teachers, with the priority being to move the starting pay closer to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ goal of $47,500 a year. Chief financial officer Jim Loyed also said the base student allocation, which is the main source of flexible revenue for the district, will increase by 1.2 percent. Panama City News Herald.

Monroe: School board members have approved a $15 million contract with Tallahassee-based Ajax Building Co. to construct a new stadium at Key West High School. It was the seventh consecutive school district contract awarded to Ajax for a cumulative total of about $140 million. Another bidder, Gulf-Keystar, had urged the board to consider state guidance that advises district to spread work around among qualified bidders to avoid any appearance of favoritism. Florida Keys Weekly. Laura Lietaert, who has been the principal at the Key Largo School, has been chosen to lead Coral Springs High School. She replaces the retiring Blake Fry. Key West Citizen. The Treasure Village Montessori’s science class has planted mangroves at Anne’s Beach in Islamorada as part of the beach’s restoration after damage caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Middle school students have been planting mangroves in the Upper Keys for the last five years. Key West Citizen.

New curriculum rule: The Florida Board of Education meets today to consider a state proposal to change a rule on the teaching of history in school classrooms. The Department of Education is asking the board to ban teachers from defining American history as “something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.” Teachers also would be forbidden to “share their personal views or attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.” Specifically, the state wants to ban any teaching of “critical race theory,” which contends that racism is embedded in the nation’s legal systems and policies. In the final public hearing about the proposed rule Wednesday night in Baker County, several people spoke in favor of CRT. WFTS. WTLV. WJXT. WINK. The push to limit the discussion of racism and bias in school classrooms is spreading across the United States. Chalkbeat.

Around the nation: More students than ever are expected to attend summer school, but experts say it might not be enough to close the gap widened by the coronavirus pandemic. USA Today. A study of Connecticut students over the past school year links remote learning to chronic absenteeism, and shows that the rates of poor attendance among black and Hispanic students were two to three times higher than the rates for white students. The 74.

Education podcasts: Kentucky state Rep. Chad McCoy talks with Step Up For Students president Doug Tuthill about the education choice bill McCoy helped pass this legislative session, the politics behind it, the theory of unbundling services and how choice can be expanded. redefinED.

Opinions on schools: Florida has unfair salary laws for teachers, which are meant to entice veteran educators to surrender their professional contract and jump to the annual contract. In return, they could receive larger pay increases, but can be let go at any time even if they have highly effective evaluation ratings. Nancy Velardi, Tampa Bay Times. Florida is gearing its public school teaching standard to sanitize American history and sidestep racial inequalities. Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post. Rating teachers on professional performance during a pandemic seems ludicrous and another slap in the face of teachers who have been keeping it together in their classrooms for their students, parents and their own families. Alexandria Martin, Miami Herald.

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BY NextSteps staff

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