DeSantis signs ban on kids using social media, Bethune-Cookman gets grant, high school renovations and more

Around the state:  Gov. RonDeSantis signed a ban on kids using social media, a high school in Tampa is revealing new renovations, Manatee commissioners approved plans for new schools and Bethune-Cookman University received a grant. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Social media ban: Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a bill blocking most kids from social media sites. HB 3, passed by lawmakers this month, forbids kids 13 and younger from creating social media accounts and requires platforms to seek out and remove their profiles. Florida is following a handful of other states that have placed similar limits on the social media usage of children. It’s unclear which media platforms would be affected by Florida’s legislation, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2025. “Being buried in those devices all day is not the best way to grow up. It’s not the best way to get a good education,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Jacksonville. Tampa Bay Times. Axios. Politico. WPTV.

Hillsborough: After two years of construction, a high school in Tampa is revealing new renovations. A rededication ceremony was held at Robinson High to celebrate the Knights’ new home. WFLA.

Manatee: Commissioners in this county approved plans for two new schools and a high school expansion in the Lakewood Ranch and Parrish communities. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Leon: The 2024-25 staffing plan proposed by Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna is about $17 million more than the current year’s budget. Even so, the district is facing staff cuts. The most dramatic consequence: The academic interventionist positions will be cut from middle and high school campuses and reduced to two positions at each elementary school. All schools will maintain a social worker and an extra guidance counselor based on school population. Tallahassee Democrat.

Indian River: The school district here is considering transforming one of its elementary schools into a new educational model magnet school. WPTV.

Work hours: Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a measure that will ease decades-old regulations on the hours that 16 and 17-year-old Floridians can work. The bill drew heavy debate early in the legislative session. Bill Herrle, president of the National Federation of Independent Business-Florida, said the bill will give parents control over the hours worked by teens. “No one wants young people to work longer hours or work under unsafe conditions,” Herrle said in a statement. “House Bill 49 simply gives parents and guardians the right to decide what’s right for their teens and helps Florida’s small businesses find workers.” News Service of Florida. WLRN.

Colleges and universities: A Florida Gulf Coast University grad and masters program participant has won a $5,000 grant to help continue marine research linked to the environment. Susannah Cogburn recently found that she was one of eight recipients of the research stipend via the Guy Harvey Fellowship in partnership with the fellowship and Florida Sea Grant. Cogburn is a master’s student from Winter Garden, studying environmental science, with a focus on marine ecotoxicology at FCGU. WGCU. A Florida State alum named Mike Ortoll is working to prevent substance abuse on college campuses. WXTL. Bethune-Cookman University has received an over $1 million grant to renovate buildings on campus. The funds will be used to renovate an academic building and football complex on campus. In a press release, BCU said these buildings will be used to provide “academic support, meeting and office space, recruiting, athletic locker rooms and other similar purposes to support student athletes.” The campus was hit hard by Hurricane Ian in 2022. WUSF.  Florida Polytechnic University announced that its presidential search committee has named five finalists for the school’s top job. The candidates each come from academic institutions, a departure from recent Florida university president searches that have resulted in the hiring of leaders from various professions. The new leader will replace the university’s first president, Randy Avent. Tampa Bay Times. University of Florida forestry students compete in annual skills contests. Main Street Daily News.

Opinions on schools: If there had been no Florida A&M University, the city of Tallahassee, the state of Florida and the nation would have been a poorer place in many ways. Because over the course of its 125 years, FAMU has been one of the nation’s leading producers of opportunity for Black citizens — which has benefited us all.  Gerald Ensley, Tallahassee Democrat.

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BY Camille Knox

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