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Catholic school decides against raising tuition to take advantage of universal vouchers law, Broward reorganization proposed, and more

Around the state: A Catholic school in St. Petersburg has reversed its decision to boost tuition rates to take advantage of the state’s new universal school choice law in a way that would lower payments for parents but add revenue for the school, Broward’s interim superintendent is proposing an administration reorganization just two days before the school board chooses a new superintendent, FHSAA officials are asking an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit against it for not permitting a school to broadcast a prayer before a football game because state law now permits it, Lee County is looking to hire 400 teachers, the four finalists for the Sarasota superintendent’s job answer questions at a town meeting and are being interviewed today by the school board, and some Florida State University faculty were shocked that the school did not receive an invitation to join the Association of American Universities. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: School board members vote today on an ambitious administrative reorganization proposed by interim superintendent Earlean Smiley just two days before they choose a new superintendent. Smiley is recommending demotions, non-renewals and high-paying promotions, including nearly $25,000 to chief of staff Valerie Wanza, whose application for the superintendent’s job was rejected by the board in May. “It’s quite audacious for any outgoing leader to want to tie the hands of an incoming leader who might be in the job within days,” said board member Allen Zeman. Sun-Sentinel. WPLG. The former principal at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a gunman killed 17 people in 2018, is advocating to have wellness centers in every school. Ty Thompson, now the district’s assistant director of athletics and student activities, is calling for more federal funds to address the ongoing trauma of school shootings. The 74. Here are the valedictorians and salutatorians for Broward high schools. Graduations were June 2-8. Sun-Sentinel.

Hillsborough: Florida High School Athletic Association officials are asking an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a Tampa Christian school that was prohibited from broadcasting a pregame prayer over a loudspeaker at a 2015 state championship football game. The FHSAA said a new state law permitting such prayers makes the lawsuit moot. But attorneys for the Cambridge Christian School disagree, contending the athletic association still needs to adopt policies to carry out the law. Justices on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are scheduled to hear arguments June 27. News Service of Florida.

Palm Beach: Here are the valedictorians and salutatorians for Palm Beach County high schools. Graduations were in May. Sun-Sentinel.

Polk: School board members recently approved a plan to spend $30.5 million in federal aid to help students recover some learning lost during the pandemic. The nine programs include new books for civics classes to weekend boot-camps for students struggling with math, science and reading. Some of the funding will supplement summer and after-school programs.. Lakeland Now.

Pinellas: A Catholic school in St. Petersburg has reversed its decision to increase tuition rates to take advantage of the state’s new universal school vouchers law. St. Paul Catholic School announced in June it was hiking tuition by $4,000 to $5,000 per student and encouraging every family to apply for vouchers. The result would have been parents paying less and the school collecting an additional $1 million or so in income from the vouchers. Earlier this month, it backtracked. “After careful consideration and taking into account various factors, including the feedback expressed by our families … as well as advice from the Diocese of St. Petersburg, we are reverting to our originally scheduled tuition rates,” principal Brendan Butcher and the Rev. Robert Gibbons wrote in a letter to parents. The change means that parents who apply for the vouchers worth about $8,500 will have an extra $1,000 to $2,000 for other educational expenses. Tampa Bay Times.

Lee: District officials have 400 teaching jobs to fill this summer. Teachers must hold a valid standard teaching certificate, expect to graduate from a college of education by August, or hold a bachelor’s degree in a field where certification is available. WBBH.

Volusia, Flagler: Here are photos from high school graduation ceremonies in the Volusia and Flagler school districts. Graduations were June 1-4 in Volusia, and May 30 on Flagler. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Collier: School board members continued to debate a contract for the incoming superintendent at a workshop Monday. Leslie Ricciardelli’s contract as interim superintendent expires at the end of the month. Board member Tim Moshier wants to wait for a judge to rule on a lawsuit filed by businessman Alfie Oakes that accuses the board of violating the state’s open government law in hiring Ricciardelli before making a decision, and also wants to pay her less than the proposed $305,000 a year for three years. WINK.

Sarasota: Four finalists for the superintendent’s job met with members of a community advisory committee Monday and are being interviewed by school board members today. The board is expected to select a superintendent Wednesday. Terrence Connor of Hillsborough County, Josiah Phillips from Broward, interim superintendent Allison Foster, and Charles Van Zant Jr. of Clay County answered questions Monday about their backgrounds, how they would handle certain situations, how they would improve academic achievement and more. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Martin: Former school superintendent John Millay, who resigned in February, has been named senior vice president of Boys & Girls Clubs. He’ll handle direct day-to-day supervision of several departments, including finance, compliance, benefits administration and safety and security, and manage the organization’s academic initiatives, school-based partnerships and mentorship program AmeriCorps. He was replaced as superintendent by Michael Maine. WPTV.

Gulf: A stalking charge against school board member Dennis McGlon was dropped last month when prosecutors said they didn’t have enough information to build a case. McGlon was arrested Aug. 12, 2022, when he allegedly waited for a Lynn Haven woman at her workplace, then followed her home. McGlon was the school board chair when he arrested. He resigned that post but remained on the board. Port St. Joe Star.

Colleges and universities: Not getting an invitation to the Association of American Universities shocked some Florida State University faculty members. The AAU is made up of America’s leading universities that are selected based on their accomplishments in research, entrepreneurship and student success. “I think the way that the Florida education system is now being perceived nationwide doesn’t help, and that’s really all I can say,” said Matthew Lata, a professor at FSU’s College of Music and president of the United Faculty of Florida’s FSU Chapter. Tallahassee Democrat. The Florida Board of Governors will vote June 22 on the nomination of Aysegul Timur as the new president of Florida Gulf Coast University. If approved, she’ll replace the retiring Mike Martin. WGCU. William Inboden, executive director and chair of the Clements Center at the University of Texas-Austin and an author, has been hired to lead the University of Florida’s Hamilton Center, a home for civics education established by the Legislature in 2022. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Politics. New College of Florida is evicting the Sarasota Classic Car Museum from a building it owns by the end of the month to make way for student housing and, ultimately, an athletics facility. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WTVT.

Around the nation: Moms for Liberty, born in Florida, has turned its attacks on local school districts on racial and LGBTQ+ issues and its push for parental rights in schools into a role of significant influence in Republican politics. Associated Press. More than 1,900 U.S. colleges are not requiring students to include an SAT or ACT score to be eligible for admission this fall, according to FairTest, a group that contends the misuse of standardized testing practices is detrimental to academic achievement and equal opportunity. K-12 Dive.

Opinions on schools: The school choice movement is about setting families free. This is a task too great to entrust to the timid. We’ve already watched one choice movement regulate itself to death, and we sadly watch on as its ability to liberate fades. If we are going to make mistakes, it’s time to make some new mistakes rather than repeat the old ones. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED. There is a common misconception among education reform advocates that passing universal choice legislation is akin to summiting Mount Everest. Upon universal choice’s enactment into law, it is done. Not so fast. What has actually been achieved, in mountaineering terms, is that a base camp has been established. When the governor puts pen to paper, planning must begin anew to ensure post-passage success. Garrett Ballengee, Education Next. Book bans in Florida schools are not a “hoax.” The point is not whether one can get a book that’s been prohibited in a school. It’s about whether someone’s ready access to ideas has been denied or diminished in a public institution and why. Jonathan Friedman, USA Today.

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BY NextSteps staff