Duval considers closing some schools, Broward counsel’s job on line over charter funding, and more

Around the state: Soaring construction costs are forcing Duval district officials to consider closing some schools that had been on a list for improvements, Broward school board members are being asked to consider firing their general counsel over the dispute about sending a share of tax referendum revenues to charter schools, Vanderbilt University in Nashville is considering opening a business school on a 7-acre property in downtown West Palm Beach, a Bradenton charter school for boys announces it will move onto a campus with an alternative schools for girls, Florida Virtual School is collaborating with the state Department of Juvenile Justice to start an academy for juveniles in the detention system, and students at 15 more Hillsborough schools may now get free after-school meals. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: Police pulled over a school bus in the southwest part of the county Monday afternoon after a report that a student on the bus had a gun. The “gun” was a toy, they found, in the backpack of a 7-year-old boy. WSVN.

Broward: School board members will consider April 16 whether to fire general counsel Marylin Batista over advice she gave the board about sending a proportional share of revenues from a tax referendum to charter schools, and other “missteps.” The board decided in 2018 to give charters $4.5 million from the tax instead of a share based on enrollment, but in March the state Board of Education ordered the school board to pay $80 million to charter schools by the end of the year or face state sanctions. “In recent weeks, concerns have arisen regarding the conduct and decision-making of the general counsel, despite the board’s explicit directives and established protocols,” board member Daniel Foganholi wrote in an agenda item. “The general counsel has undertaken certain actions independently, which have led to unfavorable outcomes for the school district.” Sun-Sentinel.

Hillsborough: Students from another 15 district schools are now eligible for a free after-school meal through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program. Schools become eligible when more than 50 percent of their students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. The total number of district schools participating is now up to 190. Spectrum News 9.

Duval: Because of soaring construction costs, district officials may consider closing dozens of schools that were on the upgrade list after voters approved a half-penny sales tax hike for building improvements in 2020. The gap between construction costs and funding is about $1.4 billion, and that is forcing administrators to reconsider their plans. “We’ve got a financial scenario on our hands that just is not going to end well if we don’t adjust,” said school board member Kelly Coker. A list of possible school closures is in the works, and could change before it’s announced. Florida Times-Union.

Seminole: Seventeen district schools will take part in a pilot program that is intended to keep better track of bus riders. Each bus that drives students from the 17 schools will have a GPS-enabled tablet. Students will tap their student ID card when they get on and off. “It’s important to add this layer of safety and give parents peace of mind,” said Joyce Moore, the district’s assistant director of transportation. “They know we have immediate access to this data.” WKMG.

Manatee: The Bradenton charter school Visible Men Academy announced Monday that it will move into the existing Just For Girls alternative school, which is also in Bradenton. Boys will attend classes in one building starting next fall, with girls in the other. In return for free rent, Visible Men Academy will take over transportation for both schools. The charter school had been looking for a home after failing to meet a January deadline to build a new campus on county property. “On top of the financial and administrative relief for our school leadership, these new solutions take away stress and distractions from our faculty and teachers, who can continue to devote their whole focus to our students,” said academy principal Janjay Gehndyu, who will help lead both schools. Bradenton Herald.

Alachua: Lincoln Middle School in Gainesville has won the Florida Mathcounts championship for the seventh time in the last eight years. The winning team of 8th-graders George Paret, Daniel Wei, and Ben Chronley, 7th-grader Edwin Gao, and 6th-grade alternate Jason Zhang is coached by Jennifer Frazer, a counselor at Buchholz High School. Mainstreet Daily News.

Santa Rosa: Hannah Gomillion, an assistant principal at the Va. R. Butler Elementary School in Santa Rosa Beach, is one of 27 peers named to the National Association of Elementary School Principals’ class of outstanding assistant principals. National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Colleges and universities: Vanderbilt University in Nashville is considering opening a business school on a 7-acre property in downtown West Palm Beach that is owned by the city and the county. Palm Beach Post. University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus has received a $1 million donation from Johnnie Giffin. It will be used for scholarships, with preference being given to employed single parents. St. Pete Catalyst. Spectrum News 9. Santa Fe College students who meet the academic admission requirements into the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to pursue bachelor’s degrees are now guaranteed admission under an agreement called Going Gator, which was formalized Monday. WUFT.

School for juvenile detainees: Florida Virtual School is collaborating with the state Department of Juvenile Justice to start an academy for juveniles in the detention system. Florida Scholars Academy will be available at all 42 DJJ residential commitment programs, starting July 10. WMFE.

Opinions on schools: With charter schools, home-schools, micro-schools, school choice scholarships, tuition tax credits and most recently education savings accounts, Americans have begun the process of cutting out the K-12 middle-man and directly empowering educators. Matthew Ladner, NextSteps. In a state that is a majority minority, having leaders of all races prepared to take us into the future will be important to our economic, social, and political success. It seems worth funding and supporting. Jim Croteau, Tallahassee Democrat. The Biden administration’s proposal to spend another $8 billion on grants to support public schools’ COVID-19 recovery efforts makes it clear that federal relief funding for schools has not been put to good use for the nation’s 50 million students. Aaron Garth Smith and Christian Barnard, The Hill.

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BY NextSteps staff

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