Carvalho headed west: Miami-Dade school Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced Thursday that he is leaving the district to run the Los Angeles Unified School District. Carvalho, 57, who has been superintendent of the district since 2008, is trading the fourth-largest public school district in the country for the second. The Los Angeles district has about 450,000 students and more than 1,000 schools, compared with Miami-Dade’s 350,000 or so students at 400 traditional public and charter schools. Nearly four years ago, Carvalho accepted the top job at the nation’s largest district, New York City’s, but backed out at the last minute. Carvalho has been widely praised for his work in Miami. “Even though I will be calling Los Angeles home, Miami will always have a special place in my heart,” Carvalho said. No timetable has been set for his departure or the process to choose a successor. Miami Herald. WLPG. WSVN. WLRN. WFOR. WTVJ. Politico.
DeSantis unveils budget: Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled his $99.7 billion budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year at a news conference Thursday in Tallahassee, just under the current year’s record $100 billion in spending. The state’s economy has rebounded strongly from the pandemic, and the state has also received more than $3 billion in federal aid. “Florida is clicking on all cylinders when it comes to the economy,” he said. The proposed budget anticipates a 4 percent increase in student enrollment, and includes $1,000 bonuses for teachers and principals, $600 million to boost starting teacher pay, a spending increase of $200 per student, and no tuition increases for state colleges and universities, moves he previously had announced in November. It also includes $1,000 bonuses for first responders, nearly $1 billion for the environment, creation of the Florida National Guard, and a suspension of the state’s gas tax for several months. DeSantis’ recommendations will be considered by lawmakers when the 60-day legislative session begins Jan. 11. News Service of Florida. USA Today Florida Network. Politico Florida. Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Florida Politics. Capitol News Service.
Around the state: Police said a potential mass shooting was averted at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach when two students alerted authorities about a man’s comments, more students were arrested around the state for making threats against schools, all 180 employees at a private school in Miami-Dade County are getting $18,000 checks from a graduate who is now an entrepreneur and TV personality, Sarasota and Leon school districts name their teachers of the year, a report concludes that a lack of formal disciplinary procedures and training contributed to the uproar in 2018 when the principal at Spanish River High School said he couldn’t say the Holocaust was a factual event, starting teacher pay in Duval County has been increased to $47,500, and the president and faculty have reached an agreement on policy changes aimed at safeguarding faculty members’ “academic freedom and freedom of speech.” Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:
Miami-Dade: Miami lawyer John Ruiz, who earlier this week proposed building a football stadium on the campus of Coral Gables Senior High School, said he’s donating $10 million to the private Westminster Christian School in Palmetto Bay for a new sports facility. Miami Herald. Entrepreneur and television personality Marcus Lemonis announced Thursday that all 180 employees at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, where he graduated in 1991, would be given checks for $18,000. WPLG. Miami Herald.
Broward: A 12-year-old student was arrested and accused of having several weapons at Walter C. Young Middle School in Pembroke Pines. Police said the boy had four knives, a slingshot and two rocks hidden in his backpack. Sun Sentinel. WPLG.
Palm Beach: A lack of formal disciplinary procedures and training contributed to the uproar in 2018 when the principal at Spanish River High School said he couldn’t say the Holocaust was a factual event, according to a report of the incident. The principal was later fired over his conduct after the remarks were revealed, rehired when an administrative judge said the district hadn’t followed a “progressive discipline” policy, then refired when the school board eventually decided to disregard the judge. The report concluded that the district had no discipline policy for principals, and that a lack of “conflict resolution training” contributed to the anger over the principal’s comments. Palm Beach Post. A proposal to revise school boundaries in Boca Raton will move ahead despite some criticism of the plan from some parents at a community meeting Thursday. The new boundaries were drawn to ease overcrowding and fill a new elementary school that opens next fall. Students at five schools in Boca Raton will be affected. Another community meeting will be held next month. Palm Beach Post. WPTV. WPEC.
Duval: Starting teacher pay will boosted from $45,891 to $47,500 a year after an agreement between the school district and the teachers union was approved this week by the school board. Union president Terri Brady said teachers appreciated the increase, but pointed out that veteran teachers are being left behind. Board member Elizabeth Andersen apologized to experienced teachers. “I do want to say I’m sorry to the veteran teachers,” Andersen said. “For a one-year teacher and a 14-year teacher … to be making the same salary is really tough.” WJCT.
Pinellas: First-term school board member Nicole Carr said this week that she won’t run for another term. Carr, who was elected chair of the board this fall, said her decision wasn’t precipitated by any problems or controversies related to the pandemic. Rather, she said the advisory nature of the school board doesn’t align with her preference for being a “doer.” Her withdrawal leaves nutritionist Dawn Peters as the only candidate for the seat so far. Tampa Bay Times. Contract negotiations between the teachers union and the district are at a standstill over compensation for veteran teachers. The union wants extra pay for long-time educators who have not accepted an annual contract in exchange for performance pay benefits. District officials have offered 3.5 percent pay raises and fully paid insurance, and say the requested “longevity supplement” doesn’t comply with state law. Tampa Bay Times.
Brevard: Health First, a nonprofit health network, has donated $50,000 and supplies for nursing clinics in district schools. Supply bags filled with gloves, bandages, antiseptic wipes and tissues, menstrual products and more will be distributed to clinics in the coming days. Florida Today.
Seminole: A 15-year-old Lyman High School student was arrested Thursday after allegedly writing threats of a mass shooting on the walls of several bathrooms at the school. No weapons were found, Longwood police said. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. Twelve students were arrested after a brawl at Oviedo High School. WKMG.
Volusia: A 19-year-old Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student has been arrested and accused of plotting a mass shooting at his school. Daytona Beach police said John Hagins, of North Miami, had a rifle, six magazines of bullets, and boxes with 200 more rounds of 9mm ammunition. He was arrested at his off-campus apartment as he was heading to a firing range after police were tipped by two students who were concerned by comments Hagins made during a conversation on Snapchat. He told police that once he was done at the range, he was going to the university to “enact a ‘Columbine,’ ” said police chief Jakari Young. WOFL. WKMG. Orlando Sentinel. Daytona Beach News-Journal.
St. Johns: Two students were hospitalized Thursday as a precautionary measure after an SUV slammed into the back of their school bus. The bus driver was not hurt, but the 37-year-old SUV driver was hospitalized with serious injuries, according to troopers. WJXT.
Sarasota: Jennifer Jaso, a social studies and critical thinking teacher at Sarasota Middle School, has been named the school district’s teacher of the year. WWSB.
Clay: School board members have voted in favor of new school boundaries for several high schools and middle schools. Students from Oakleaf High, Orange Park High, Ridgeview High, Oakleaf Junior High and Orange Park Junior High are affected by the changes. WJXT.
Leon: Ashlyn Laughlin, a kindergarten teacher at Pineview Elementary School in Tallhassee, has been chosen as the school district’s teacher of the year. Linda Johnson of Deerlake Middle, Ashley Prosser of Fort Braden School, Lea Marshall of Leon High and Robin Wood of William J. Montford III Middle were the other finalists. Tallahassee Democrat. WCTV. Two 17-year-olds were arrested when they trespassed at Godby High School in Tallahassee at 10 a.m. Thursday, according to police. When the two boys were approached by school administrators, they tried to run away but were caught by school staffers and then arrested by school resource officers. The boys were not students at Godby. Deputies found an unloaded gun in one of the vehicles they drove to Godby. WTXL. Tallahassee Democrat.
Flagler: Students whose SAT tests were disrupted Dec. 4 by school board member Janet McDonald can take a free makeup test, College Board officials announced Thursday. McDonald appeared at the test site and told students they didn’t have to wear masks, which the College Board requires at all tests. McDonald said she had been told by school administrators that masks were not required, but that several students said they were told masks were mandatory. So, she said, she went to the test site to let students know. Flagler Live. WKMG.
Colleges and universities: University of Florida president Kent Fuchs and Faculty Senate chair David Bloom said they have reached an agreement to make policy changes aimed at safeguarding faculty members’ “academic freedom and freedom of speech.” The agreement includes adding an appeals process to review decisions made in conflict-of-interest issues; the administration reaffirming the right of faculty members to speak to the press freely as private citizens and about areas of their expertise; school officials also affirming the rights of faculty “to research and timely publication without interference by outside influence”; and agreeing that faculty “will have control over the content of their syllabi and course materials.” That became an issue when a professor was told the words “critical” and “race” could not be used in describing his course. Tampa Bay Times. The intergovernmental agency Blueprint has voted in favor of a $116 million bond sale to finance $20 million in improvements at Florida State University’s Doak Campbell Stadium and for other community projects. Tallahassee Democrat. WTXL. Land being given to the University of Florida for a downtown campus in West Palm Beach has been gauged to have a market value of $42 million. A 5-acre portion of the 12-acre parcel, donated by Palm Beach County, had been valued at $12.8 million by the county property appraiser. Palm Beach Post.
Opinions on schools: As he departs, Miami-Dade school Superintendent Alberto Carvalho should be praised for his heroic stance to guarantee the health and safety — indeed, the very lives — of students, faculty, administrators, and staff members as they returned to in-person learning in the face of Gov. DeSantis’ threat to defund the district if it violated his ban on mask mandates. Miami Herald. I suspect Alberto Carvalho’s leaving is only the beginning of brain drain from Florida’s public-education system, under siege by Republican ideologues. Fabiola Santiago, Miami Herald. Working families need more options when it comes to child-care and education, not more restrictions cloaked in Humpty-Dumpty obscurantism. The administration wants to redefine child-care and preschool to mean “what Washington chooses to allow,” a definition with which no parent can be happy. Jonathan Butcher, reimaginED. The growing numbers of black parents enrolling their children in Florida choice programs are making it increasingly dicey for politicians to ignore them. Denisha Merriweather, Florida Politics. A constitutional amendment aimed at returning Florida to partisan school board elections is a really bad idea. There’s no Republican education or Democratic education; at least, there shouldn’t be. The schools are for the children, for the good of each community, and there’s no need to inject partisanship into their governance. Bill Cotterell, Tallahassee Democrat.