FAFSA issues continue, new elementary schools coming, students must retake ACT and more

Around the state: Some Volusia County students will have to retake the ACT exam, new elementary schools are being added in Marion, FAFSA woes are continuing nationwide and districts are addressing the new start times for schools for 2026. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday toured Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of a 2018 mass shooting. NBC Miami. U.S. News & World Report. South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Hillsborough: Students in this county got a taste of something fresh from Florida in their school lunches late last week. The district’s Student Nutrition Services planned a meal sourced totally from the state’s growers, producers and manufacturers, calling it “Florida Food Day.” ABC Action News. 

Escambia: A rise in private school enrollment has been spotted in this county due to the state’s voucher program. However, some parents say the voucher program is overcrowding the system. WEAR.

Volusia: Some students at DeLand High will have to retake their ACT exam next month due to a scheduling error, school officials say. The test was taken outside of the testing window. “The school extends their apologies to students and families for the error and is committed to ensuring a seamless testing experience going forward,” a spokesperson for the district said.  WKMG. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Marion: To assist with overcrowding, school board members here are adding two new elementary schools. They have not yet been named, but are set to open for the 2025-26 school year and will seat 1,700 students combined. WCJB.

Columbia: A private school owner is accused of misappropriating state program funds meant for her academy, authorities say. The owner of Touch by an Angel Learning Academy in Lake City was charged after deputies say she stole more than $1 million in state funding designated for her school. Miami Herald. WCJB.

FAFSA woes: An overhaul of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, has caused delays in the process that determines how much money students can get to pay for college. That has prompted some colleges and universities to push back enrollment deadlines as they wait for the FAFSA data needed to determine financial aid packages for students. That includes grants, scholarships, loans and work-study funds. On Friday, the Education Department announced an error in its calculations for federal student aid that will result in delays for as many as 200,000 applicants. WUSF. NPR. Associated Press. NBC Miami.

Start times: Volunteer advisers to the school system in Polk County will host five town hall meetings across the county to share information and gather feedback on a new state law that mandates Florida school districts change their school start times. A 2023 state law requires that high schools start their day no earlier than 8:30 a.m., and middle schools no earlier than 8 a.m. Changes begin on July 1, 2026. The issue is a little more complicated in districts such as Indian River County, whose public high schools now begin at 7:05 a.m. TC Palm. Lakeland Ledger.

Solar eclipse: The 2024 solar eclipse is a few weeks away, and the United States won’t see another one until 2044. Even so, Florida kids still have to attend school since calendars don’t list Monday, April 8 as a day off. WTSP.

Hoax spotting: Some high schools are teaching students to spot digital hoaxes. NPR.

Colleges and university news: About $1.1 million is on the line for New College of Florida as President Richard Corcoran is slated to present a “student success plan monitoring report” to state university system officials after the institution lost out on about $2 million in potential performance-based funding. Corcoran will present the report during a meeting Tuesday of the Budget and Finance Committee of the university system’s Board of Governors.  WMNF.  Meanwhile, some residents have expressed concern over the expansion of New College of Florida. WWSB.  Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation last year threatening to decertify unions if less than 60% of bargaining unit members paid dues. The law also required that employees who want to join unions sign “membership authorization forms” that show the names, salaries and other compensation, “including reimbursements,” paid to the union’s five highest-compensated employees. Inside Higher Ed. State education officials this week are slated to approve a proposed rule that would require the state’s public colleges and universities to have supplies of emergency opioid antagonists such as naloxone in dormitories and residence halls. The proposal stems from a 2023 bill approved by the state Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis.  WGCU. The University of Florida recently announced it will adopt an Early Action plan for potential first-year students on its applications — starting this year. Students who submit applications and other required materials by Nov. 1 will be notified of their admission status on Jan. 24, 2025. The Gainesville Sun.

Opinions on schools: Since the book challenges began last year, Florida schools have led the nation in pulling materials off their shelves, according to PEN America, a nonprofit that advocates for freedom of speech.   Tampa Bay Times editorial board. The Florida government’s harmful actions have been well-documented by numerous organizations and scholars, and include: the hostile takeover of New College; defunding of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs; bullying of students and educators supportive of LGBTQ+ people; and attacking the academic fields of sociology and women’s and gender studies. William F. Felice, Tampa Bay Times.

Avatar photo

BY Camille Knox

Leave a Reply

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