Enrollment decline predicted in Miami-Dade, Duval considers merging 2 elementaries, and more

Around the state: Miami-Dade school officials are projecting a 4,000-student decline in enrollment next year because of the state’s universal vouchers program, Duval’s school board will vote Tuesday on a proposal to merge two underenrolled elementary schools, Martin County school officials have offered teachers a contract that will add $85 in base pay for every year of experience up to 35 years, Monroe schools are creating an information technology curriculum, Indian River school officials are considering creating a public magnet school with the Classical Learning Model, Valencia College in Orlando is starting a bachelor’s degree program in elementary education, and Brevard County students talk about their time-consuming search for scholarships to attend college. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: District officials are projecting a 4,000-student decline in enrollment for the 2024-2025 school year because of the growth of the state’s universal vouchers program, and expect a serious hit to the school budget. In the first year of universal vouchers last year, the financial impact to the district was blunted because legislators also increased per-student funding by 6.5 percent. This year the increase is 2.5 percent, which “isn’t going to meet a lot of our increased costs,” said district chief financial officer Ron Steiger. Axios.

Broward: The selection of a former Broward school administrator as Vermont’s education secretary is drawing criticism from state legislators who are questioning her credentials. Zoie Saunders was Broward’s chief strategy and innovation officer for just three months before Vermont Gov. Phil Scott hired her. She was also chief education officer for the city of Fort Lauderdale for five years, and vice president of strategy for the charter school company Charter Schools USA before that, but Democrats and progressives say Saunders doesn’t have enough experience in public schools. She has to be approved by the Vermont Senate education committee and the full Senate. WCAX.

Palm Beach: A painting of Dr. Joaquín García was unveiled this week at a Palm Beach gallery, and will soon be placed in the Lake Worth Beach school that bears his name. Dr. Joaquín García High School is the county’s first new high school in 20 years and the first to be named after a Hispanic leader. Garcia, who was a community leader and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, died in November 2021 at the age of 65. WLRN.

Duval: School board members vote Tuesday on a proposal to merge R.L. Brown and R.V. Daniels elementary schools. Daniels currently is at 36 percent capacity, and Brown at 26 percent. If the board approves, students from Daniels will be shifted to Brown starting in the fall. No decision has been made on what happens to Daniels if the merger is approved. WJXT.

Polk: An elementary school teacher at Oscar J. Pope Elementary School in Lakeland was arrested this week and charged with providing false identification to law enforcement, resisting arrest without violence, and knowingly driving with a suspended license. Deputies said Kwanazza Lawrence, 36, was pulled over in a traffic stop, gave them a false name and birthdate and then resisted arrest. WFLA.

Lee: Andre Adams, the girls track coach at Gateway High School in Fort Myers, has been fired for allegedly sending nude photos of himself to a student, according to district officials. Deputies and the Department of Children and Families are investigating. WINK. WFTX. WBBH.

Brevard: High school seniors’ search for college scholarships is a time-consuming exercise that may yield nothing, even for the highest achievers. Brevard students talk about how they make the effort, and what it means to them. Florida Today.

Lake: A whitleblower has raised safety concerns about construction on air conditioning systems and some outdoor sidewalks and walkways at the Rimes Early Learning Center in Leesburg. Heavy construction equipment and trenches have been dug throughout the campus of the preK-2 school, which also has special-needs students. Walkways have been blocked, and dangerous equipment has been left within reach of students. District officials said students were relocated to another building during roof construction, and the repairs are finished. Daily Commercial. Veronica Ramirez, a 35-year-old teaching assistant at Sorrento Elementary School, was shot and killed at the Central Florida Fairgrounds earlier this month. A 15-year-old boy was arrested. WKMG. WOFL.

Marion: Superintendent Diane Gullett is one of eight finalists for the “Magnet Schools of America Superintendent of the Year” award. Making the list of finalists earned the district $500, which will be used to help start an artificial intelligence magnet program. The winner will be announced in two weeks. WCJB.

Clay: In his fifth state of the schools address, Superintendent David Broskie said the district will continue to build on the success of a year in which the district received an A grade from the state and posted the second-highest test scores in social studies and the fourth-highest in science among Florida districts. He also noted that plans are being made to add two elementary schools and a high school before 2032 to deal with enrollment growth. Clay Today.

Alachua: The group proposing to convert three Newberry public schools into charter schools has issued its teacher and staff packets that outline the timeline and overview of the proposed conversion, vote eligibility and the proposed leadership structure for the schools. If the schools vote to convert, official contract negotiations would begin and the final contract would be approved by the five-person governing board, which includes three people appointed by the Newberry City Commission, one appointed by the Archer City Commission and one appointed by Newberry Education First. Voting begins next week. Gainesville Sun. Mainstreet Daily News.

Martin: Teachers would receive an extra $85 in base pay for every year of experience, up to $3,000, under a proposal the district recently made to teachers during contract negotiations. Teachers rated as highly effective would also receive $100, and effective teachers would receive $75. “It’s three steps in the right direction,” said union negotiator Gary Simmons. “This is the first time the union feels like the board has heard what the union has been asking for.” The next negotiating session is Tuesday. TCPalm. Martin County High School’s swimming pool will be open at least one more year, Superintendent Michael Maine said Thursday. The district had been considering its options after learning the nearly 50-year-old Coach Dick Wells Training Center needs $1.2 million in repairs. TCPalm.

Indian River: School officials are considering creating a public magnet school with the  Classical Learning Model that includes a curriculum based on Greek and Roman traditions of art, literature, science and language. Superintendent David Moore said a classical school could help bring some home-schooled students back into the public school system. Vero News.

Monroe: District officials have announced the creation of an informational technology program. IT Elite Pathway will offer 30 courses for students in grades 4-12 and allow students to accumulate certification. “Responding to student demand, our district is creating a new pathway enabling students to register for multiple IT courses and earn nationally recognized certificates,” said Superintendent Theresa Axford. Key West Citizen.

Colleges and universities: Valencia College in Orlando is creating a bachelor’s degree program in elementary education with the intention of providing teachers for schools in Orange and Osceola counties. The four-year program will include an apprenticeship, allowing students who have their two-year associate’s degrees to work as teacher aides so they can be paid and accumulate academic credits while taking upper-level classes. Cost of the program is $10,000. School officials hope to begin it in the fall and graduate 180 new teachers by 2028. Orlando Sentinel. Eleven of the 34 faculty bargaining units around the state have not met the state’s required 60 percent threshold for due-paying membership and are going through the recertification process, said David Hecker, the United Faculty of Florida’s interim executive director. Inside Higher Ed. Jay Demetree, president and CEO of the Jacksonville real estate agency the Demetree Brothers, has been appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis as a University of North Florida trustee. Office of the Governor.

Pay pushing teachers out: About 25 percent of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Palm Beach teachers who have left their jobs since last year cited poor pay as the primary reason, according to a survey of 650 exit interviews. Other factors mentioned include stress and lack of support from their districts. WFTS.

Constitutional amendments: Five constitutional amendments will be on the Florida ballot in November, including one that would require school board candidates to declare their political party affiliation. Right now those races are nonpartisan. Amendments need 60 percent approval from voters to pass. WKMG.
Opinions on schools: We are all — lawmakers included — allowed to have an opinion about when and whether children should have access to social media, but enshrining it in law may be a step too far. Miami Herald. Hillsborough’s school board should vote yes on Tuesday to put an additional property tax on the November ballot to improve employee pay. Voters should get the chance to weigh in on this important issue. Tampa Bay Times. HB 3 restricts access to information or speech for Florida’s future leaders — an intrusion that must remain within the purview of parents, not the state. Khara Boender, Florida Politics.

Avatar photo

BY NextSteps staff

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *