Teacher shortages, chaplains in schools, measles outbreak ends, new high school proposed and more

In the Legislature: The legislative session came to an end on Friday, with lawmakers working to finalize several measures that could impact schools for years to come. Spectrum News. Florida school districts could soon be authorized to allow volunteer chaplains to provide services to students under a bill given final passage by the Senate. Senators voted 28-12 to approve HB 931, which the House passed last month. The proposal is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis. Under the bill, school districts and charter schools could craft policies to allow volunteer chaplains to provide “support, services and programs” to students, if such policies follow certain requirements. Orlando Sentinel.  WFSU. Yahoo News. The history of communism could be taught in lower grades. Daytona Beach News-Journal. WKMG. Miami Herald. Meanwhile, a Pasco family’s 15-year effort to collect financial relief for their son’s injuries in a school bus crash fell apart in the last days of the Florida legislative session. Tampa Bay Times.

Palm Beach: A majority of the Palm Beach School Board voiced support for building a new high school in Riviera Beach, which is a development supporters say is long overdue and would make good on a promise to the city’s majority Black community. “We made a promise to the citizens of Riviera Beach and Palm Beach County that we will be constructing this high school,” said School Board Member Edwin Ferguson, who represents Riviera Beach and has championed the plan. “I do think the time is right for us to … to make good on that promise.” But some school board members argue that there are not enough students in the city to warrant building a new school there. WLRN.

Miami-Dade: At the start of the 2023-24 school year, Florida faced a staggering challenge: There were over 5,000 teaching positions that remained unfilled. In Miami-Dade, there were about 70 core instructional teacher positions that remained vacant. In response, district officials are formalizing a partnership with the Teacher Accelerator Program (TAP) through a memorandum of understanding. TAP, an initiative of Achieve Miami, hopes to alleviate the teacher shortage by offering a streamlined pathway into the profession for college students who did not major in education. “This program provides an opportunity for you to prepare before you enter the classroom,” said Jose Dotres, schools superintendent. WPLG.

Broward: Some good health news was heard on Friday in this county when the district confirmed the measles outbreak was over. The 21-day infectious period at Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston “ended on March 7,” an official said. The county had confirmed nine cases of measles in February, and seven of them were students at the Weston K-5 elementary school. At Manatee Bay, 3% of its student body are not vaccinated. The other two Broward measles cases involved children age 4 or younger. Miami Herald.  Tampa Bay Times.  Meanwhile, the state is investigating Broward schools over charter school funds. In a letter sent Thursday to Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Peter Licata, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said employees may be contacted during the investigation. In the letter, Diaz wrote the “Broward County School District is not complying with Florida laws requiring it to share revenue collected via a discretionary tax,” adding that if the district doesn’t comply the state “may impose certain sanctions, including withholding the transfer of state funds, discretionary grant funds, discretionary lottery funds.” NBC Miami.

Seminole: An administrative investigation is underway at Seminole High after a complaint of public displays of affection — but those involved are school resources officers and not students. Fox 35.

SAT exam: As the SAT exams go all digital, students have mixed reviews of the new format. Orlando Sentinel.

Spring break: Dates vary for breaks in Jacksonville-area schools. Florida Times-Union.

Colleges and universities: Florida State, Florida A&M and Tallahassee Community College are in line to receive millions toward several key legislative requests in this year’s state budget. Tallahassee Democrat. University of Florida students protested outside of the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday over the university’s decision to eliminate all of its diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI positions. ABC News. A University of Florida-led study points to earlier detection of Alzheimer’s disease. Main Street Daily News.

Opinions on schools: New College of Florida should end secrecy over President Richard Corcoran’s incentive pay. Rodrigo Diaz, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Gov. Ron DeSantis and his sidekicks are busy trying to upend Florida’s cultural, educational and other systems. Barrington Salmon, Florida Phoenix.

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BY Camille Knox