FSU trustees meet for ACC decision, school calendar, educators honored, and more

Note: The Florida education roundup is off next week for the holidays, and will resume Jan. 2.

Around the state: Florida State University trustees have scheduled an emergency meeting this morning when they’re expected to discuss whether to remain in the Atlantic Coast Conference for athletics, Flagler school board members approve the 2024-2025 academic calendar that adds 7 minutes of instruction time a day for high school students, Palm Bay in Brevard County is considering adding speed detection cameras in city school zones, the state’s school psychologist of the year is from Palm Beach County, Baker County schools name their teacher and school-related employee of the year, and all state school district grades are reviewed. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: A school resource officer at West Broward High is being called a hero for his actions in helping save a student who went into cardiac arrest at school Tuesday. Brian Maher jumped into action when he heard a code blue medical alert. When he got to the scene, another adult was performing CPR on the student but it wasn’t working. Maher rushed to get an automatic external defibrillator and the girl was shocked back to life.  WTVJ.

Palm Beach: Adrienne Avallone, a school psychologist for the district for the past 19 years, has been named Florida’s school psychologist of the year by the Florida Association of School Psychologists. Avallone was a special education teacher for 10 years before deciding to go back to school to get a master’s degree in school psychology. She works with students in middle and high schools, and also runs a spirit club and is the junior varsity cheer coach at William T. Dwyer High School. Palm Beach County School District. Two Jupiter High School students have handed out free sports bras, underwear and hygiene products to more than 1,300 female athletes in the county since they started a charity organization called Ta Ta For Now three years ago. “I wanted girls to feel confident playing sports. But soon it branched out from sports to school,” said founder Jessie Baxter, now 17. “Because sports and schools require the same thing: to be confident and to be comfortable with yourself.” Palm Beach Post.

Duval: The shortage of school bus drivers that was exacerbated Thursday when dozens called in sick resulted in 160 buses being late or not appearing at all, according to district officials who had warned parents Wednesday of the impending problem. More than 20 bus routes did not have a bus and almost 150 were late. Only 30 buses were on time. WJAX.

Pinellas: Students from three more district high schools who graduate in 2024 can earn a degree tuition-free through the St. Petersburg College Promise Scholarship, college officials have announced. Boca Ciega, Gibbs and Hollins graduates join those from Clearwater, Lakewood, Northeast, Pinellas Park and Tarpon Springs high schools, which are already in the program. Suncoast News.

Lee: A 19-year-old student at Coronado High School in Fort Myers was arrested and accused of having a loaded gun at school at school this week. Dezmond Wallace was seen on surveillance cameras placing a blue bag in a trash bin, then picking it up later. The gun was in the bag, deputies said. WINK. WBBH.

Brevard: Palm Bay’s city council are expected to approve buying speeding cameras to put in 16 school zones. Police officials recommended the purchase of the cameras after writing 112 tickets in school zones in the past two years. Drivers who are detected going 10 miles an hour or more over the speed limit in the zones will be mailed $100 tickets. WKMG.

Sarasota: Two district schools are getting new principals. Natasha Forbus will be the next principal of Lamarque Elementary School in North Port, starting Jan. 8, and Holly Brody just started as principal of Brentwood Elementary School in Sarasota. Forbus had been an assistant principal of curriculum at Port Charlotte High School, while Brody has been an assistant principal at Brentwood since 2018. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Escambia: The battle over what books can and cannot be available to students in district schools has had an impact on the lives of many people who have been on the front lines for the past year. Some of them talk about how the ongoing debates have affected how they live, learn and read. Washington Post. Bellview Middle School is adopting the Community Partnership School model, becoming the third school in Escambia in the program. Students at community schools, and their families, have access to health-care, expanded learning opportunities, classes for parents and more at schools that partner with a college, health-care company and a nonprofit organization. WEAR. Pensacola News Journal.

Okaloosa: Several administrators and employees at Shalimar Elementary School have been placed on administrative leave while the school district investigates how an “individual student situation” was handled. No details of what the situation is were provided by district officials. WEAR.

Flagler: School board members approved a proposal to add 1 minute a day to each high school class for the 2024-2025 academic year. The added time allows the district to start school Aug. 12, close schools to students on election days, and give students a week off over Thanksgiving and two weeks off for Christmas. The school year ends May 29, 2005. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Students have violated district policy more than 1,300 times so far this year by using their cell phones during class. But middle and high school principals are urging the school board not to impose a stricter policy, and Superintendent LaShakia Moore said she doesn’t want to put additional policing responsibilities on teachers. Flagler Live. A 1st-grade teacher at Belle Terre Elementary School in Palm Coast has been placed on administrative leave after being found impaired by alcohol at the end of school Monday. Flagler Live.

Baker: Molly Wall, a kindergarten teacher at Baker County Pre-K/Kindergarten Center, has been chosen as the school district’s teacher of the year. Selected as school-related employee of the year was Vonda Crews, a nurse at Westside Elementary School. Baker County School District.

Colleges and universities: Florida State University trustees have scheduled an emergency meeting this morning, where they’re expected to discuss whether to remain in the Atlantic Coast Conference for athletics. The biggest issue appears to be money. ACC schools are expected to receive about $30 million less a year than schools in the Southeastern Conference and Big 10 get. Tallahassee Democrat. Tampa Bay Times. WFTS. USA Today. Associated Press. More than 300 members of the University of Florida faculty are asking for direct guidance from the school on whether they can hire international graduate students from countries like China and Iran for assistantship positions. More than 1,000 students from countries named in a new state law enroll every year at UF, and faculty members worry that if the question isn’t answered soon, the best candidates will work and study elsewhere. Higher Ed Dive.

School grades review: Sixteen Florida school districts received grades of A from the state earlier this month. They are Clay, Collier, Gilchrist, Indian River, Lafayette, Liberty, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Okaloosa, St. Johns, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, Wakulla and Walton. Thirty-six school districts were awarded B grades, while 12 were given C grades, and three — Gadsden, Jefferson and Madison — received incompletes. All district and school grades can be found by downloading spreadsheets found here. Florida Department of Education. Here are reports on school grades from districts around the state. Alachua. Baker. Bay. Bradford. Brevard. Broward. Calhoun. Charlotte. Citrus. Clay. Collier. Columbia. Miami-Dade. DeSoto. Dixie. Duval. Escambia. Flagler. Franklin. Gadsden. Gilchrist. Glades. Gulf. Hamilton. Hardee. Hendry. Hernando. Highlands. Hillsborough. Holmes. Indian River. Jackson. Jefferson. Lafayette. Lake. Lee. Leon. Levy. Liberty. Madison. Manatee. Marion. Martin. Monroe. Nassau. Okaloosa. Okeechobee. Orange. Osceola. Palm Beach. Pasco. Pinellas. Polk. Putnam. St. Johns. St. Lucie. Santa Rosa. Sarasota. Seminole. Sumter. Suwannee. Taylor. Union. Volusia. Wakulla. Walton. Washington.

Choosing superintendents: When Lee County voters choose a superintendent in 2024, the district will become the largest in the state to elect a leader, surpassing Pasco, and the only district among the 10 largest to do so. Currently, 38 districts elect superintendents and 27 appoint them. Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Orange, Duval, Pinellas, Polk and Brevard all continue to appoint leaders. Voters in another district, Hernando, will decide next year whether to follow Lee into electing a leader. Florida and Alabama are the only states that allow some voters to choose a superintendent. Florida Phoenix.

Opinions on schools: Florida’s community school movement, with its focus on addressing the mental health needs of students, is running head-long into the far-right education policies of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Jeff Bryant, Counterpunch.

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BY NextSteps staff