Around the state: Florida’s Board of Governors is expected to decide this week whether to allow the state’s 12 public universities to raise out-of-state tuition rates by up to 15 percent, Flagler school board members will vote today on arming teachers and other school employees as part of the state’s school guardian program, Hillsborough and Duval school boards are talking today about their searches for new superintendents, school bus drivers in Brevard County could receive 33 percent pay raises as the district tries to fill open jobs, St. Lucie’s school board will spend up to $205,000 for a consultant to help the district redraw school attendance boundaries, and a Palm Beach County principal who continued to get paid for 11 months after her school was closed has had her teaching certificate revoked by the state. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:
Miami-Dade: District officials are asking parents to get more involved at the beginning of the textbook and learning materials approval process. In a recent call to parents, the district issued this message: “Good evening, Miami-Dade County Public Schools is adopting new social studies textbooks. As part of our effort to collect feedback from parents, we are seeking parent volunteers to serve on the upcoming social studies textbook adoption district review committees.” Superintendent Jose Dotres recently said the district is casting a wider net for viewpoints in order to comply with new state laws. WTVJ.
Broward: Fourteen years after the St. Malachy Catholic Church in Tamarac decided to close its parish school because of the recession, church officials said it will reopen in the fall. Since closing, the church has been home to two charter schools, but one closed in 2018 and the other in 2021. “The decision to reopen St. Malachy followed a feasibility study in which we looked at local demographic trends, educational options and other factors. Through this study, we determined that a viable Catholic school could reopen at St. Malachy without operating to the detriment of nearby Catholic schools,” said Jim Rigg, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Miami. St. Malachy will start small, with about 45 students in pre-K through kindergarten, with plans to add grades in subsequent years to eventually expand through 8th grade. reimaginED.
Hillsborough: School board members will discuss the search for a new superintendent at today’s meeting. Addison Davis, who has been the superintendent for the past three-plus year, announced last week that he is resigning, effective July 14. Board chair Nadia Combs said an interim superintendent will be named while the search for Davis’ replacement goes on. “We do have options internally and externally. That is not going to be an issue,” Combs said. “And the wonderful thing about superintendent is he is leaving on great terms, so he is going to work side by side.” WTSP. Board members are also expected to vote today on a rezoning plan that will move about 15,000 students to new schools. District officials say the proposal will balance enrollment among schools and save the district $13 million a year. WFLA. A northern Hillsborough charter school has announced a series of changes, including a new location, as it attempts to improve its academic performance. Village of Excellence Academy is ending its middle school program, which received a D grade from the state, and moving the F-rated K-5 operation to a new building. K-5 principal Glennis Perez said absenteeism has been reduced, scores on the state’s English exam have improved and she is working to hire more certified teachers and lower the school’s reliance on long-term substitutes. Tampa Bay Times.
Palm Beach: A former Boynton Beach middle school principal who didn’t show up to work for almost a year after the school closed but continued to collect her salary has had her teaching certificate revoked by the state. Bonnie Fox was the principal at Odyssey Middle School from the time it opened in 2001 until it closed in 2018 because of declining enrollment. For about 11 months after the closure she was paid $132,490.92. A district investigation disclosed she rarely worked during that time, and Fox told investigators she’d been instructed to “stay under the radar.” Investigator Oscar Restrepo said in a 2021 report from that “she was just lost in the system, getting paid without working for about 11 months.” Sun-Sentinel.
Duval: At today’s school board meeting, members are expected to discuss the next steps in hiring a new superintendent to replace Diana Greene, who left the job June 2 and officially retires July 24. The first step will be considering proposals from management consultants who are bidding to help with the search. Duval will be competing for a new superintendent with seven other Florida districts. Until Duval hires one, longtime administrator Dana Kriznar is the interim superintendent. Among the names rumored to be interested in the job are two former Clay County superintendents — Charlie Van Sant Jr., who served from 2012-2016, and Addison Davis, who ran Clay schools from 2016-2020 before being hired as superintendent in Hillsborough County. He announced his resignation last week, and leaves the district in July. Florida Times-Union. A bus with 30 activists from the Transformative Justice Coalition left Jacksonville on Monday on a 15-city tour to rally for voting rights and against restrictions the state has recently placed on education about racial, LGBTQ+ and diversity, equity and inclusion programs. WTLV. USA Today Florida Network. WFSU.
Brevard: School bus drivers will soon be receiving 33 percent pay raises, district officials announced Monday. Drivers who had been paid $15 an hour will now receive $20 an hour. School board members vote on the proposal June 27. The district needs to hire about 90 bus drivers, and Superintendent Mark Rendell said he hopes the increase will help it retain current drivers and recruit new ones. Florida Today. WKMG. WOFL. WESH. WFTV.
St. Lucie: A consultant is being hired for up to $205,000 by the school board to help the district create an attendance zone plan to better balance enrollment between schools and give families options of choosing schools closer to home. District officials hope to have the plan in place after the 2023-2024 school year. Changes in attendance zones are necessary to deal with enrollment growth and cut transportation costs, which have ballooned to $25.5 million a year, and the state is only covering $11.5 million of that, said Superintendent Jon Prince. “The current (transportation) model is untenable financially,” Prince recently told the school board. “We can’t continue to do that, as our growth continues to accelerate. Our growth is unsustainable over time.” TCPalm.
Escambia: Goals for interim superintendent Keith Leonard were outlined by school board members last week, who said their top priorities were having clear communications with Leonard, improving the district’s academic performance and teacher recruitment and retention, and strong leadership. Leonard was the assistant superintendent of human resources when he was chosen by the board May 16 to replace Tim Smith, who was fired. The school board meets today. Pensacola News Journal.
Citrus: Lecanto High School is home to a Dementia Awareness Club, which has about 20 members who regularly visit with patients at a nearby elder care facility. The club was started last year by Ananya Padala, a rising senior, after she saw the effect dementia had on her grandfather. “I want to come here and make people’s lives a little brighter,” she said. “I’ve gotten really attached. They have unique personalities and a unique perspective on the world. Even if they don’t remember me, they’ve given me so much.” Citrus County Chronicle.
Flagler: School board members are expected to vote today on joining the state’s school guardian program and arming teachers and other staff to supplement resource officers in protecting schools. “We did identify 112 employees from our district who were interested in moving into the guardian program,” said the district’s safety specialist Tommy Wooleyhan. If the board votes to move forward with the program, 15 guardians will be hired to work in the district’s nine schools after testing and training from the sheriff’s office. There are 14 resource officers now stationed in schools. “We have deputies on every campus, two at the high schools which are definitely needed, but those are big campuses,” said Sheriff Rick Staly. WKMG. WOFL. WFTV. WESH.
Colleges and universities: Florida’s Board of Governors is expected to decide this week whether to allow the state’s 12 public universities to raise out-of-state tuition rates by up to 15 percent. In a letter to BOG chair Brian Lamb, university presidents said rising enrollment demands and market conditions justify the increase. Universities also are asking the board to consider allowing each school’s board of trustees to set their own tuition models based on their markets, competitive environments and strategic plans. The Capitolist.
Opinions on schools: Florida’s students with disabilities have had more choice access for a longer period of time than students in any other state, and the results are strong academic gains in NAEP testing from 2003-2022. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED. The too often ignored reality for Florida’s education system: If you start behind, it’s hard to catch up. Indeed, fully half of children entering kindergarten in Florida today are deemed “not ready” to be there. By 3rd grade, only 3 percent more are reading at grade level. It would be hard to think of much that would be more important for every Florida adult to know. Madeleine Thakur, Florida Politics.