Half-cent sales tax renewal in Orange, metal detectors, Duval superintendent options, and more

Around the state: Orange County voters will be asked in November to renew a half-cent sales tax for school construction, all Broward high schools are getting metal detectors in the fall, six semifinalists are chosen for the superintendent’s job in Duval County, a pay study in Bay schools shows teachers are compensated fairly compared to their peers but other school workers and administrators are not, Pinellas schools are considering allowing A, B and C students to exempt exams, and Rollins College President Grant Cornwell is retiring next year. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: All district high schools will get metal detectors this fall, school board members decided Tuesday. In February, the board agreed on a pilot program with machines in about 10 schools, but on Tuesday board members decided they didn’t want to wait. The new plan will place detectors at Charles Flanagan High in Pembroke Pines and J.P. Taravella High in Coral Springs this summer, with staggered delivery dates in the fall for the rest of the district’s high schools. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. WFOR. WTVJ. WPLG. Newly named Superintendent Howard Hepburn announced that he will hold at least five more town hall meetings to discuss school closures. Some school board members questioned the approach, saying they’d prefer a detailed plan and a rationale for it. “I can’t clearly tell anybody what the plan is, because I still haven’t heard a clear plan,” said board member Daniel Foganholi. “It’s almost like a mystery game. I don’t know what’s going on.” Miami Herald. A majority of school board members said Tuesday they support paying severance to retiring superintendent Peter Licata, but not the full 20 weeks that’s possible under his contract. Exit negotiations begin Friday. Sun-Sentinel.

Orange: School board members agreed Tuesday to ask voters in November to renew a half-cent sales tax that would help fund the district’s construction needs and renovations for the next 10 years, improve school security and update technology. The tax was first approved in 2002, and renewed in 2014 with 64 percent of voters. It has raised more than $4 billion, and the money has been used to build 65 new campuses and renovate or rebuild 136 others. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. WFTV. WOFL. WESH. Spectrum News 13.

Palm Beach: Four people, including students, were taken to a hospital after a charter bus transporting David L. Anderson Middle School students from a field trip at Florida Atlantic University was involved in a three-vehicle crash on I-95 on Tuesday. None of the injuries was believed to be serious. WPTV.

Duval: Six semifinalists have been chosen among the 20 candidates for the superintendent’s job. School board members will sift through videotapes answers from the six to board members’ questions and select finalists on May 7. In-person interviews with the finalists are May 13 and 14, and a superintendent is expected to be named May 23. The finalists are: Christopher Bernier, former Lee County superintendent; Josiah Phillips, chief information officer for Broward schools; Cheryl Proctor, a deputy superintendent in Portland, Ore.; Daniel Smith, chief of staff for the Loudon County, Va., school system; and Luis Solano, a deputy superintendent in Detroit’s school system. Florida Times-Union. WJXT. Jacksonville Today. WJAX.

Pinellas: Students who have grades of A, B or C and miss five days or fewer in class would be able to exempt exams under a policy change being considered by district officials. Right now, only students with grades of A or B can use the exemption. District leaders think the revised policy could encourage students to improve grades and attend classes. If the policy gets the approval of the school board, it will go into effect this fall. WFTS.

Lee: District officials are proposing more than a dozen changes in the way inappropriate behavior in schools will be handled. Revisions include ways to handle corrective strategies, drug use and possession, simple battery and student threats and intimidation, and harsher punishments for violators are also proposed. “The laws are making it that parents are held accountable for what kids are doing. Let’s start in the classroom,” said board member Melisa Giovannelli. WINK.

Brevard: While school board members are proposing an updated code of conduct with harsher punishments for misbehavior, many members of the community urged them to instead get to the root cause of the disciplinary issues. Tuesday, they encouraged the district to work with parents and teach children how to cope with their emotions in healthy ways instead of simply punishing them. Bernard Bryan of the South Brevard NAACP wants to track trends in discipline rates and encourage the district to find solutions for problem areas. “What I’m asking the board to do is to really consider those opportunities, what is causing the risk ratios to be (above 2.5), and what can we do to implement corrective action as a plan to minimize that?” he asked. Florida Today.

Sarasota: Pine View School in Sarasota is the best high school in Florida, according to new rankings released Tuesday by U.S. News and World Report. Last year it was second. Pine View also was ranked the 18th-best high school in the country by the magazine. Schools are judged by college readiness, state assessment proficiency, state assessment performance, college curriculum breadth, underserved student performance and graduation rate. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Bay: Superintendent Mark McQueen is asking the school board to take a look at employee compensation. “I could clearly see that we had an inequity in our pay system when 70 percent of our employees who are non-instructional are making $15 an hour. That’s a massive amount of compression that’s taken place,” he said. A pay equity study showed that teachers are paid slightly higher than those in peer school systems, but that other school employees and administrators make 23 to 35 percent less than their peers in other districts. WMBB. Two schools are getting new principals July 1. Ron Hensley, the assistant principal at Rutherford High, is taking over at Mowat Middle, and Amber Hart is the new principal at Merritt Brown Middle. WJHG.

Charlotte: Vape detectors will be installed in every school bathroom in the district before schools reopen in the fall, according to Jack Ham, director of school support. Detectors have been in Charlotte High, Port Charlotte Middle and L.A. Ainger Middle bathrooms since October and will go into other school bathrooms this summer. Sensors detect nicotine and THC vapor, and a camera outside the bathroom records the student leaving and notifies administrators. WFTX.

Gadsden: A planned K-8 school will be built on the grounds of Shanks Middle School in Quincy and open in 2026, school officials said this week. There had been some discussion about moving the location of the new school. Shanks will be demolished, except for the gym. WCTV. School officials are giving students exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics instruction with help from Tallahassee State College. The district has no STEM schools now, but Superintendent Elijah Key said he and other officials are exploring ways to change that. WTXL.

Colleges and universities: Rollins College President Grant Cornwell announced Tuesday that he will retire in June 2025 after 10 years of leading the liberal arts college. Cornwell, 66, is the 15th president in the 139-year history of the Winter Park school. A national search will be conducted to find a successor, and Cornwell said he would stay in office until a new president is ready to take over. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is supporting Florida State University’s appeal of a North Carolina judge’s decision allowing a lawsuit filed by the Atlantic Coast Conference against FSU to proceed. She’s also asking AGs in six states that are home to ACC schools to join her. FSU’s desire to leave the ACC prompted the legal battle. News Service of Florida. An Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professor who was under investigation for leaving the scene of an accident has been found dead in a field in Martin County. Police said James Solti, 57, used a gun to commit suicide. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

The esports story: Esports could soon be sanctioned as a public school sport by the Florida High School Athletic Association. They would be set up similar to other school sports, with team members practicing, attending meetings and competing online against other schools in such games as League of Legends, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, Dota 2, Fortnite, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros., Street Fighter and Tekken. Matches are held weekly in separate fall and winter seasons. And there are state rankings. Pensacola News Journal.

Around the nation: The Biden administration’s new Title IX rule blocking policies that prohibit transgender students from using school bathrooms that align with their gender identity is expected to spur legal fights with Republican-controlled states, including Florida, that have laws requiring those students to use only bathrooms that align with their assigned gender at birth. Associated Press. Central Florida Public Media.

Avatar photo

BY NextSteps staff

Leave a Reply

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