Next steps logo

Broward approves reorganization plan but kills clear backpacks, new leader in Osceola, USF trustees OK $340M football stadium, and more

Around the state: Broward school board members reluctantly agreed Tuesday to a sweeping administrative reorganization plan from the interim superintendent just a day before a new superintendent is expected to be chosen, Broward board members also agreed to kill a proposal to require clear backpacks for the next school year, Osceola’s school board chooses a new superintendent, teaching academies will be started at every Miami-Dade County high school as a way to address the teacher shortage, a court has rejected a lawsuit against the Collier County School Board’s hiring of a superintendent, and University of South Florida trustees have approved the construction of a $340 million football stadium on the campus in Tampa. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: Teaching academies will be established at every district high school this fall under a partnership between the school system and Miami Dade College to address the teacher shortage. Under the Teaching Academy Dual Enrollment Program, students can earn college credits targeted at education majors while working toward their high school diploma. Superintendent Jose Dotres hopes that students who enroll in the academies will continue their studies at college and then return to the district to work. Miami Herald.

Broward: School board members have approved a sweeping reorganization of the district’s administration, even though a majority thought the move was unfair to the next superintendent who is expected to be hired at today’s board meeting. Interim superintendent Earlean Smiley’s changes include dozens of demotions, non-renewals and high-paying promotions, including nearly $25,000 to chief of staff Valerie Wanza and $40,000 for Alan Strauss to become acting deputy superintendent for teaching and learning. Most of the promotions were made outside of the standard interview process. Five board members approved the plan Tuesday after they were advised by the board attorney that they could reject appointments only for specific reasons, such as a candidate’s lack of qualifications or a morality issue. Sun-Sentinel. WPLG. After hearing complaints from parents opposed to a proposed policy requiring all students to use clear backpacks and bags for the 2023-2024 school year at a town hall meeting this week, school board members voted 5-4 Tuesday to kill the measure. District officials said the backpacks would make it easier to see prohibited items, but parents contended they are an invasion of privacy and there’s little evidence that they work. WFOR. WTVJ. WSVN. WPLG.

Orange: School board members voted Tuesday to build a football stadium on the campus of Windermere High School that could open in 2024. As a condition of the school being built in 2017, the board had agreed to place the stadium 2 miles away. Now, school officials say the stadium creates logistical hardships for the school, adds to traffic problems in the area and is a safety hazard for students and visitors. “We’ve tried jointly to make the park site work,” said school board member Pam Gould. “It just doesn’t make sense any more. It just doesn’t.” If the new stadium location is approved by county commissioners June 20, construction could begin in October and is expected to cost about $3 million. Orlando Sentinel.

Polk: Superintendent Frederick Heid’s explained his decision to postpone the district’s LGBTQ Pride Month proclamation from June to October at a school board meeting Tuesday. Heid reasoned the postponement would allow the board to create a formal policy so requests for proclamations are reviewed in an “equitable and consistent” way, and because schools are closed in June. Some advocates called the timing “poor,” while others accepted the rationale. “He is wanting to do this in October, where more students can attend. I understand that; I think it’s great if more kids can attend this. Running an LGBTQ youth group, a lot of my kids are currently on vacation,” said Kerri McCoy, vice president of Polk Pride. WFTS. Lakeland Ledger.

Lee: A year-long investigation conducted by the firm Wright Mediation Inc. into a whistleblower’s complaint has concluded that the school district’s communications department did not break the law. In February 2022, a district employee filed a complaint claiming that he or she was asked to perform duties outside the scope of the job, subjected to a hostile work environment, asked to spy on the public using district resources via social media, made fun of by at least one superior, fielded calls from upset parents without adequate resources and slowed down responses for public information to certain people. WINK. A policy that would allow school staff to search student cell phones could cut down on the number of drug deals in schools, according to school board members reviewing the proposal Tuesday. The board is expected to vote on the policy later this month. WFTX.

Brevard: District officials said they are working on a proposal to increase the salaries of school bus drivers to fill open positions. “What we want to do is increase compensation for the bus drivers right away, and make sure everybody knows about it,” said Superintendent Mark Rendell. “That, hopefully, will make us attract new drivers.” Board members still have to decide how high to set the hourly wage above the current $15, and how to pay for the raises. WFTV.

Osceola: School board members are offering the school superintendent’s job to Mark Shanoff, the interim chief information officer for the Orange County School District. If he and the board can agree on a contract, Shanoff will replace Debra Pace, who is retiring at the end of the month after 33 years with the district, the last seven as superintendent. Other finalists were Michael Allen, the district’s  assistant superintendent for middle and K-8 schools; Terrence Connor, the deputy superintendent and chief academic officer for Hillsborough schools; and Ann Hembrook, the area superintendent for Marion County schools. Osceola News-Gazette. Spectrum News 9. WKMG. WESH. District 5 school board member Erika Booth has announced her candidacy for the Florida House District 35 seat vacated by state Rep. Fred Hawkins, who was recently named president of South Florida State College. Positively Osceola. Florida Politics. Osceola News-Gazette.

Collier: A circuit court judge has denied a request from businessman Alfie Oakes for an injunction against the appointment of school superintendent Leslie Ricciardelli. Oakes claimed the school board ceded authority for the decision to hire Ricciardelli to a consultant and that the consultant didn’t follow the state’s Sunshine Law. After viewing a video of the meeting Oakes referenced in the suit, the judge wrote that “this court cannot see how in that meeting that school board did anything but exercise its decision-making authority during this process.” WGCU.

Manatee: Newly named school superintendent Jason Wysong’s proposed three-year contract was approved Tuesday by the school board. He will be paid $235,000 a year, receive 25 vacation days per year, one paid sick leave day per month, and $650 per month intended for auto and in-county travel expenses. Wysong begins work July 1. He replaces Cynthia Saunders, whose last day is June 30. WWSB.

Leon: A Tallahassee elementary school guardian restrained a man experiencing a “mental crisis” Tuesday. Police said the man entered Astoria Park Elementary School, which was holding summer school, and was confronted and detained by the guardian. The man has been hospitalized. WCTV.

Charlotte: Mark Vianello takes over as school superintendent today from the retiring Steve Dionisio. Vianello talks about his goal of building “upon the success of an already great school system. … It’s a dream job in a dream location and I just can’t wait to get down there and get started.” WBBH.

Colleges and universities: University of South Florida trustees have approved the construction of a $340 million football stadium on the campus in Tampa. USF will take on $200 million in debt for the 35,000-seat stadium, and raise the rest through donations, the capital improvement trust fund and from other sources including the sale of broadband equipment and licenses. The stadium is expected to open in 2026. Tampa Bay Times. WUSF. WTSP. WTVT. Florida Gulf Coast University trustees have approved a contract for president-elect Aysegul Timur that will pay her $500,000 a year for three years. She still has to be confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors, which meets June 22. News Service of Florida. WGCU. New College of Florida interim president Richard Corcoran talks about the school’s problems and how he plans to address them. Business Observer. Eastern Florida State College trustees approved an $89.2 million budget that includes no increase in tuition costs and raises of 2 or 3 percent for employees. Space Coast Daily.

Around the nation: An increasing number of states are requiring, or are considering requiring, high school students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as a high school graduation requirement. K-12 Dive. A new study from a professor of economics in the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky finds positive correlation between states’ K-12 student achievement and their education choice policies. reimaginED. Two nonprofit organizations that support innovation in education have put together The Canopy Project, a comprehensive public database of 251 schools that include district, charter and independent schools and microschools, all with core practices that raise the level of student-centered learning. reimaginED.

Opinions on schools: Open enrollment is a great option for millions of American families. Access to that option, however, largely depends on where a family lives and what school they want to send their child to. There are steps that policymakers, district leaders, and advocates can take to make open enrollment more accessible to more families. But report author Susan Pendergrass says it best: “Equality of opportunity comes not from trying to level the playing field between bureaucratic institutions, but from circumventing the institutions and empowering those whom they serve.” Jessica Poiner, Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Avatar photo

BY NextSteps staff

One Comment

Hard to believe Broward School Board could not have delayed the reorganization that makes hiring the next Superintendent more difficult and that person’s job far more difficult

Comments are closed.