Addressing the teacher shortage, new superintendents, aging buses and more

Around the state: New superintendents were sworn in in school districts that include Sarasota and Broward, a job fair will be held to address the nationwide teacher shortage, Flagler officials are working to get new buses to replace their aging fleet and faculty are leaving New College of Florida. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: Peter Licata was sworn in as superintendent of Broward schools, the sixth largest school district in the nation and the state’s second largest. Licata was hired in mid-June by the school board. He was previously a regional superintendent in Palm Beach schools. WLRN. Miami Herald.

Palm Beach: Superintendent Mike Burke will be paid at least $340,000 for his leadership of about 180 Palm Beach county schools, according to a draft of his new contract for employment. The school board will vote today on the extended contract for Burke, which includes a 9.5% boost in his base salary. Palm Beach Post.

Hillsborough: Former Hillsborough County schools superintendent Addison Davis has landed a job as a partner with Strategos Group, an education management consulting firm. The move was announced on Monday, the first business day after Davis ended his 39 months as leader of the district. Davis said in a resignation letter that he wanted to return to Northeast Florida where he grew up and started his career. Tampa Bay Times.

Pinellas: Bus drivers are being sought in this county as the school year’s start nears. ABC Action News.

Sarasota: The school district’s new superintendent here is Terry Connor, who was sworn in on Monday during a ceremony. Connor said he wants to cut through the political turmoil that has engulfed the district and make it the country’s best. Connor is a former assistant superintendent in Hillsborough county. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Flagler: For the first time in its history, Flagler’s school board is looking to finance the purchase of 16 new school buses and buying a half dozen more every year in an attempt to modernize its aging fleet. District officials have cleared the way for its financial adviser to prepare a request for proposal that would seek bankers offers to finance a $2.6 or $2.8 million purchase of 16 buses that would be delivered during the 2024-25 school year. That would replace 16 buses that are 15 years old. Flagler Live.

Teacher shortages: With less than a month until school is back in session, officials here are facing a plight similar to districts nationwide: the teacher shortage. “There’s definitely concerned with having the openings that we have,” said Suzette Rivera, Director of Recruitment for the Lee County School District. There are over 400 job openings currently, which include teaching, coaching and administrative positions, officials say. Fox 4. Meanwhile, in Broward county schools needs teachers, bus drivers and more. Currently, 800 positions are open. A job fair will be held this weekend to help hire positions. CBS Miami.

Examining books: Florida is prompting schools to examine books with a statewide lens. In Leon county, Superintendent Rocky Hanna removed five titles from schools at the suggestion of the Moms for Liberty group, and in Orange county, the school district puts holds on dozens of classic and popular novels. Meanwhile, in Pasco, $3 million was spent to replace elementary classroom libraries with choices by a district-level media specialist. Tampa Bay Times.

University and college news: More than one-third of New College of Florida faculty won’t be returning in the fall, according to Provost Bradley Thiessen. He called the 36 departures in a single year “ridiculously high” for a school with less than 100 full-time students. Many are teachers and researchers who saw no other option but to resign or take leave to look at other opportunities. Tampa Bay Times. The honors program at the University of South Florida will soon move from the oldest building on campus to a five-story, 85-000 square-foot building named after Judy Genshaft, USF’s former president. Genshaft and her husband, Steven Greenbaum, donated $20 million for the project, which has been years in the making. The $56-million building will open to students at the end of this month. Tampa Bay Times. A University of Florida researcher has created interventions for sickle cell disease. Dr. Diana Wilkie, a UF College of Nursing researcher, is co-author of a commission report published July 11 that includes 33 co-authors comprising experts in sickle cell disease, in addition to patients and activists around the world. Sickle cell is an inherited disorder that changes red blood cells into a C shape. Main Street Daily News.

Opinions on schools: The Northwest Evaluation Association, a nonprofit research organization also known as NWEA, recently released an analysis called “Education’s long COVID: 2022-23 achievement data reveal stalled progress toward pandemic recovery” show that students suffered a pronounced slowing of academic growth during the school year. This is incredibly sad but not incredibly surprising. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED.

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BY Camille Knox