Testing’s silver lining for state, UF bans protests against Sasse inside buildings, debate, and more

Around the state: Florida education officials say there’s a silver lining to the state’s NAEP test results even with the decline in three of the four categories, University of Florida officials said they’ll enforce the ban on protestors inside campus buildings when sole presidential finalist Ben Sasse visits the campus Nov. 1, Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Denocratic challenger Charlie Crist spar Monday about education and more in their only debate, about 200 Lee County school employees lost their homes in Hurricane Ian, Alachua schools announce a plan to make up instructional time lost during the hurricane, and Florida will vote on a constitutional amendment that would give additional homestead property tax exemptions to teachers and other public workers. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: School Superintendent Vickie Cartwright’s job isn’t the only one in jeopardy at today’s special school board meeting. Contract negotiations between interim general counsel Marilyn Batista and board chair Torey Alston are at an impasse over pay, and if the dispute isn’t resolved Batista could return to her old job as deputy general counsel with a $60,000 pay cut, according to her contract. Last week, Alston called the meeting and posted an agenda with 15 criticisms of Cartwright’s leadership. Sun-Sentinel. A Coral Springs hybrid homeschool and microschool for elementary students is one of 32 U.S. educational programs up for the $1 million Yass Prize for educational excellence. Iman Alleyne started the Kind Academy in 2016, and has a goal of starting 100 schools in the next 10 years. reimaginED. An English honors teacher at Hallandale High School has been arrested and accused of having a sexual relationship with a student. Deputies said Lavelle Jamal Gordon, 29, has been charged with being an authority figure soliciting and/or engaging in sexual conduct offenses with a student. He’s been removed from the classroom pending the results of the investigation. WPLG. WSVN. WTVJ.

Palm Beach: School officials are asking voters Nov. 8 to extend a property tax that raises about $250 million a year for school safety improvements, hiring teachers for art, music, physical education and choice programs, funding mental health services on campuses, and for teacher pay increases. It was first approved in 2018, and expires next June if not renewed. If voters approve it, it will continue until June 2027. WPTV.

Lee: District officials said they’ve identified about 200 school employees who lost their homes in Hurricane Ian, and are still trying to find out how many students are in the same situation. The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools has been collecting donations and distributing clothing, hygiene necessities and school supplies to students, district employees and their families. Fort Myers News-Press.

Pasco: Fifty-one district schools have gotten approval from the state to provide meals to students participating in after-school programs. The program is a subset of the Child Care Food Program. WFLA.

Osceola: Graduation dates, times and locations have been announced by the school district. The first will be May 22 at Osceola County School for the Arts. The rest are at Osceola Heritage Park on May 23, 24, 25 and 26. Positively Osceola.

Marion: Voters will be asked Nov. 8 to renew a 1-mill property tax for schools that was first approved in 2014. The tax generates about $25 million a year, which is used to hire teachers for art, music, physical education and vocational instruction and to meet state-mandated class size caps, and to pay half the cost of school resource officers that are required on every campus. The measure received 73 percent approval in 2018 and is supported by all school board members except one, but has drawn organized opposition this year. Ocala Star-Banner. WKMG.

Leon: A 15-year-old Godby High School student was arrested Monday and accused of having a gun on campus. School resource officers found the gun after receiving a tip. Tallahassee Democrat. WTXL.

Alachua: School officials said Monday they will make up instructional time lost during Hurricane Ian by adding 10 minutes of class time to early-release Wednesdays at most of the district’s elementary schools, starting this week. Jan. 3 and Feb. 20 are also being converted into full school days. WCJB. WGFL.

Flagler: The renewal of a half-cent tax measure that benefits the school district for the next 10 years is on the ballot Nov. 8. It was first approved in 2002, and raises about $8 million a year to fund “all school technology upgrades, improve safety and security within the district, renovate classrooms, and improve operational efficiency.” WKMG.

Levy: A Chiefland Elementary School teacher has been arrested after two students found a gun in her car on campus. Paige Ehlers, 27, sent two 4th-graders to her car to get her medication. They saw a gun and contacted the school resource officer. Ehlers has been charged with child endangerment and possession of a firearm on school grounds. WCJB. WGFL.

Colleges and universities: A rule banning protestors inside University of Florida buildings will be enforced when Ben Sasse, the only finalist for the job as president of the school, returns to campus Nov. 1 to meet with trustees. The rule has been on the books for at least two decades, said president Kent Fuchs, but hasn’t been used recently because, Fuchs said, “… in the rare cases that protesters entered buildings, they were respectful of others and their rights to speak and to hear.” Students who break the rule will be subjected to discipline, Fuchs said. Politico Florida. Tampa Bay Times. WUFT. Mainstreet Daily News. The UF faculty union is calling on school officials to release information about the final pool of 12 candidates for the school presidency. Florida Phoenix. Tampa Bay Times.

Gubernatorial debate: Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist, sparred about educational issues, including the Parental Rights in Education law, abortion, immigration, the pandemic, voting rights, DeSantis’ presumed presidential ambitions and more Monday in their only scheduled debate. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Politico Florida. USA Today Florida Network. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Florida Phoenix. Spectrum News. Florida Politics. WFSU. WPEC. WKMG. Newsweek. Fact-checking claims made during Monday’s debate. PolitiFact.

More on NAEP testing: The widespread decline in NAEP test scores around the nation, including in Florida, has boosted the state’s overall ranking. Fourth-graders improved to third in reading and fourth in math, and 8th-graders moved up to 32nd in math and 31st in reading, because some other states saw even steeper declines. “We insisted on keeping schools open and guaranteed in-person learning in 2020 because we knew there would be widespread harm to our students if students were locked out,” said Gov. DeSantis. “Today’s results once again prove that we made the right decision.” Tampa Bay Times. WQCS. Florida Politics. Hillsborough County finished at the top in 4th-grade math and reading results among the 26 largest U.S. school districts, while 8th-graders were third in reading and seventh in math. WTVT. WTSP. WFTS. Reports from other districts around the state. Miami Herald. WTVJ. WJAX.

Tax breaks for teachers? Three constitutional amendments appear on the ballot Nov. 8. Amendment 3 would grant additional homestead property tax exemptions to teachers, first responders, child welfare services professionals, active duty military members and Florida National Guard members. Sixty percent of voters will have to approve the amendment for it to take effect Jan. 1, 2023. If the extra exemption is approved, analysts say, local governments would lose $86 million in taxes in the first year. Fresh Take Florida. WPLG. WTSP.

Librarian trainers: Florida’s Department of Education has been selecting conservative parents, some who have supported book bans, for a work group that will recommend library book selection procedures and train school librarians to comply with new state rules. Daily Beast.

Around the nation: A 16-year-old girl and a 61-year-old female teacher were killed Monday morning by a gunman who broke into the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis. Seven others were wounded before the shooter, a 19-year-old man, was killed by police. Associated Press. CNN.

Opinions on schools: Within the disappointing national NAEP results, especially in math, there some bright spots among Florida students in reading. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED. This new round of NAEP data, with progress in some states rolled back to 1990s levels of performance, should end any hesitancy about leveling with parents about where things stand and what we collectively must do. This new data removes the last excuse for not providing an honest accounting — now. Andrew J. Rotherham, The 74. The 2023 session of the Florida Legislature will tell us a great deal about whether the state’s leaders think learning math is important for the state’s students. The challenge is clear. Now we await the answer. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow. Give it up, Gators. Ben Sasse as university president is a done deal. Next time you see him, he’ll be wearing an orange and blue polyester tie and fetchingly cocking his head, listening for his master’s voice from Tallahassee. Diane Roberts, Florida Phoenix.

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BY NextSteps staff