Broward board urged to rescind teacher raises, storm again affects schools, class for Swifties, and more

Around the state: Broward school board members are being asked to rescind the average 4 percent raises they approved for teachers in February, the storm system moving through north Florida is closing several school districts today and delaying start times at several others, about 30 Duval schools are now on the list for possible closure as the district tries to cut a $1.4 billion deficit in its capital spending program, more than 2,000 Collier elementary students would be affected by a proposed rezoning to address growth and overcrowding, Brevard school board members vote to remove two more books from district shelves, and a University of Miami course on “Mastermind Taylor Swift Brand” is filled four days after it opens for registration. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: Just two months after the school board approved teacher raises averaging about 4 percent, board member Torey Alston is proposing they be rescinded. He said the board’s decision, and the state’s subsequent announcement that the district owes charter schools $80 million, didn’t leave money for raises for administrators, bus drivers and other district employees. “All employees matter, all employee groups matter and no employee should be left behind,” Alston said. Also on Tuesday’s agenda is a proposal to fire general counsel Marylin Batista over the way she handled the charter school issue. Sun-Sentinel.

Duval: Almost 30 district schools are at risk of closing as school officials try to whittle away at a projected $1.4 billion deficit in the building and maintenance program funded by a half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters. Higher construction costs for schools with long-delayed maintenance projects and declining enrollment have the district considering whether to close some of the schools scheduled for repairs. For instance, Westside High School was due to be replaced for $65 million. But that projected cost has doubled, and simply closing the school and sending its students a little more than 3 miles north to Ed White High would save the district an estimated $154 million. The overall plan to close schools is still in the discussion stage. WJXT. Duval parents talk about why they’re moving their children into charter schools. WJXT.

Lee: A former history teacher at the Canterbury School in Cypress Creek accused of sexual activity with a child and possessing child pornography has been apprehended in Miami after going missing for a month when he got out on bail. Thomas Deane, 32, was scheduled to have a plea hearing on March 10. But he did not appear, and prosecutors say he cut off his ankle monitor and disappeared. WFTX. WBBH. Fort Myers News-Press. WINK.

Brevard: Two books will be removed from district bookshelves and two others will be kept, the school board decided this week. Tilt and Tricks, both by Ellen Hopkins, contain sexual and coming-of-age themes and will be removed. Staying in schools are The Action Bible by David Cook and Bible Stories for Little Angels by Sarah Dodd. In both cases, board members followed the recommendations of the district’s book review committee. A district review team that includes media specialists also decided to discontinue the use of Forever by Judy Blume, saying its sexual content violates state law. Florida Today.

Collier: More than 2,000 elementary school students could be affected under a rezoning plan being considered by the school board to deal with enrollment growth and school overcrowding. Seventeen elementary schools and 32 in all would be affected. A school board decision is expected at a May 14 meeting. WFTX. WINK. For 40 years, a tutoring and mentoring program using the children of migrant workers has helped nearly 2,000 students from the small agricultural community of Immokalee get into college. The Guadelupe Center Tutor Corps program recruits and pays high school students to help youngster students with their math, reading and writing in return for scholarship funds. “It’s a community that lacks resources,” said Guadalupe Center president Dawn Montecalvo, “and if we can bring those resources to the students and provide them with education, we can change the face of the community — just change the world.” NBC News.

Escambia: A former assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School who was accused of improperly accessing student records to help her daughter get elected homecoming queen at Tate High School in Pensacola has lost an appeal. Laura Carroll contended her statements to a school-district investigator should not have been used against her on charges that she used a two-way communications device to facilitate a felony because “she was coerced into answering his questions in violation of her privilege against self-incrimination.” A three-judge panel of 1st District Court of Appeal disagreed, noting that Carroll also had acknowledged that she had viewed records of Tate students and that her daughter used her mother’s credentials to access the school’s online portal. News Service of Florida.

Leon: The school district’s decision to spend $100,000 for a new logo and branding campaign is drawing criticism from some who think the money could have better spent. Superintendent Rocky Hanna defended the expenditure, saying the cost will be recouped if the campaign convinces 12 students in charter or private schools to enroll in the district. “We hired professionals to lead us through this process, and it’s not just a logo,” he said. “We’re having a digital campaign on television. It’s a marketing strategy.” WTXL. Tallahassee Democrat.

Alachua: Members of the school board liked the second proposed year-round calendar for Metcalfe and Rawlings elementary schools better than the first option offered, but asked staff members to get further input from the community and present a third version. The second proposal moved some Fridays off to coincide with Monday holidays to create four-day weekends, and ended the school year for students May 20 instead of May 23. Two more meetings with parents are scheduled today. Mainstreet Daily News. WCJB. The union representing district teachers and education support workers has until April 24 to meet the state threshold of 60 percent of eligible members paying dues to remain certified. About 65 percent of teachers are paying dues, but only 53.5 percent of the support staff are, and both have to meet the threshold or the union must go through the recertification process. Mainstreet Daily News.

Bay: Jinks, Merritt-Brown and Mowat middle schools will have new principals in the fall, Superintendent Mark McQueen said this week. “We’re going after academic achievement and accelerated academic achievement,” he said. The principals being removed will be eligible for other jobs in the district, he said. WJHG. WMBB. Oscar Patterson Academy in Panama City continues its expansion next fall with three 4th-grade classes. Each will have 22 students. A 5th grade will be added in the fall of 2025. WJHG.

Colleges and universities: When a University of Miami fall course about singer Taylor Swift opened for registration this month, it filled up within four days and there’s now a waiting list for spots. The strategic communication class “Mastermind Taylor Swift Brand” is open to all majors. Miami Herald. Flagler College’s Tallahassee campus is closing its doors next month after 20 years of operation. Officials blamed declining enrollment for the closure. Tallahassee Democrat. Florida’s Department of Education is developing a rule to allow private colleges to receive state funding for their nursing programs. A workshop meeting is scheduled April 24 to discuss the details. News Service of Florida. Leanne Caret and Kenn Ricci have been appointed to the board of trustees at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Caret is a retired Boeing vice president, and Ricci is the principal of the company that owns Flexjet, a provider of fractional private jet services. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Weather affecting schools: A severe storm system moving across north Florida will affect schools for a second day today. Schools in Jefferson, Wakulla and Washington counties are closed today because of the threat of heavy rain and possibly hail, high winds, tornadoes and flooding. Gulf County schools are opening two hours later than usual, Leon and Gadsden schools will open an hour later, and Franklin schools will start their day at 10 a.m. Tallahassee Democrat. WMBB. WTXL. Florida Department of Education.

Around the nation: A Consumer Reports analysis concludes that Lunchable food kits have high amounts of sodium and heavy metals and should be removed from the national free and reduced-price school lunch program. Kraft Heinz, which makes Lunchables, defended its product, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it doesn’t allow or disallow individual food items but simply sets requirements for the overall nutritional content of meals. Health News Florida. Another U.S. college has announced it’s closing. Enrollment at Goddard College, in Plainfield, Vt., has dwindled from 1,900 in the 1970s to 220 today, and it is financially insolvent. It opened in 1938. Associated Press.

Opinions on schools: Some universities say they now believe that the SAT, ACT and other assessment tests are key to helping schools identify promising students who might otherwise fly under their admissions radar. Tampa Bay Times.

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BY NextSteps staff