New College’s Corcoran gets $200K bonus, Leon school closed today by flooding, $9M tutoring gift, and more

Around the state: New College of Florida trustees award a $200,000 incentive bonus to President Richard Corcoran, Godby High School in Tallahassee is closed today after 80 percent of the campus was flooded during Thursday’s severe storm, an investment company founder is donating $9 million to pay for high-dosage math tutoring for students in grades 6-8 at nine Miami-Dade district schools, Florida State University is receiving a $98 million grant to build aerospace and advanced manufacturing facilities in Panama City, and 42 employees at a Levy County charter school donate their $1,000 bonuses from the state to help refurbish the schools elementary sports court outdoor area. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: Ken Griffin, the billionaire founder and CEO of the alternative investment firm Citadel, is donating $9 million to make a University of Chicago math-tutoring program available to the school district for the next three years. Students in grades 6-8 at nine district schools will receive the high-dosage tutoring to help them recover learning they lost during the pandemic. Miami Herald. Bloomberg News. Finalists have been chosen for the school district’s principal of the year award. They are: Cadian Collman-Perez of Maritime and Science Technology Academy; Chantal Osborne of Lindsey Hopkins Technical College; Christopher Shinn of Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High; and Kenneth Williams of Robert Morgan Educational and Technical College. The winner will be announced April 25. WPLG.

Broward: A Western High School debate teacher who is being investigated for allegedly failing to pay caterers hired to work at two debate tournaments is now being accused of using a debate booster club PayPal account to direct payments to a former rommate’s account without his authorization. Dario Camara’s ex-roommate, Thomas Morog, told police he has no connection to Western High debate program or the booster club. Camara has been moved to a different job where he has no contact with students pending the results of the investigations. Sun-Sentinel.

Orange: School officials are sorting through results of a survey as they put together a request to voters to approve the renewal of the half-cent sales tax that expires this year. More than 10,000 requests for schools’ top building or maintenance needs were noted in the surveys, including such things as shaded spaces, air-conditioning upgrades, overcrowded schools and clean and safe bathrooms. School board members meet May 7 to discuss capital budget priorities and the wording for the November ballot proposal. WKMG.

Polk: A small private school in Lakeland is drawing attention for its success in teaching dyslexic students. The Roberts Academy has used the Orton-Gillingham Approach to teach reading, writing and spelling since it opened in 2010. Orton-Gillingham is a multi-sensory method, and the academy’s use of it draws students who live more than an hour away from the school that is located on the campus of Florida Southern College. NextSteps.

Sarasota: The renovated Booker High School Visual and Performing Arts building was unveiled Thursday. The front entrance was overhauled, the interior updated and a black-box theater space was built at a cost of $28 million. Seating in the primary theater is 406, and 125 seats are in the black-box theater space addition. “We want to be the premier education provider in Sarasota County schools, and this right here exemplifies premier. We should be proud of this,” said Superintendent Terry Connor. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River: St. Lucie and Martin school districts each have 24 teacher vacancies, and Indian River has 27, according to officials from the districts. Each district has its own special programs to recruit new teachers. For instance, St. Lucie guarantees teaching jobs to district graduates if they graduate from college with degree in education. Martin offers paraprofessionals training and education to become teachers, and Indian River has a mentoring program for new teachers. But, as Jeff Raimann, director of recruitment and retention for Martin’s schools, points out, “Everyone’s facing the same challenges.” TCPalm.

Leon: Godby High School in Tallahassee is closed today after an estimated 80 percent of the campus was flooded with several inches of water during Thursday’s storms. “We’ve never seen an incident like this,” said Superintendent Rocky Hanna. Students can access their assignments through the school portal, and a decision on opening Monday will be made this afternoon. District officials will also distribute food to Godby students today from 11 a.m. to noon at Godby High, Fort Braden K-8, Dade Street Community Center, Griffin Heights Apartments and Springfield Apartments. Tallahassee Democrat. WFSU. Tallahassee city commissioners tentatively approved placing speed detection cameras in city school zones. Speeders detected by the cameras will be mailed $100 tickets. A final vote is April 24. WTXL. The Florida Department of Education has awarded a $1.6 million grant to help the school district pay for a robotics program at Rickards High and an engineering program at SAIL High. WTXL.

Alachua: The private Oak Hall School is launching a leadership development program for its high school students. Students will have to complete four course requirements: knowledge acquisition, continued education, application practicum experience and leadership philosophy presentation to earn leadership certification. Gainesville Sun.

Charlotte: A school district vaping task force is proposing the placement of vaping sensors in 200 bathrooms in schools around the district. Within the past year, 400 students have been caught vaping in schools. The issue goes to the school board May 7 and, if approved, the sensors will be installed before schools reopen in the fall. WINK.

Levy: Forty-two employees at the Yankeetown School, a K-8 charter school, donated their $1,000 bonuses from the state for school improving its grade from a D to a B to help refurbish an elementary sports court outdoor area. “When they overwhelmingly told me they wanted to use the money for the school project, I was very proud of them, and I was really kind of overwhelmed because I’ve only ever seen this done other time in my career,” said principal Dee Westfall. The court will also be used as an outdoor classroom for reading and science projects. WCJB.

Bradford: Lawtey city officials have placed speed detection cameras around Lawtey Elementary School. Drivers exceeding 10 mph over the posted limits in the school zones will be mailed $100 tickets. Florida Politics.

Colleges and universities: New College of Florida trustees have approved a $200,000 incentive bonus for President Richard Corcoran, over and above his $699,000 salary, and on Corcoran’s recommendation denied tenure to Hugo Viera-Vargas, an assistant professor of Caribbean/Latin American studies and music. Viera-Vargas was a plaintiff in a 2023 suit against the state over a new law that did away with arbitration in employment disputes. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Tampa Bay Times. News Service of Florida. Florida State University is receiving a $98 million grant from the Triumph Gulf Coast board of directors to build aerospace and advanced manufacturing facilities in Panama City. Triumph’s board distributes money from the state’s settlement with the BP oil company over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. News Service of Florida. The Florida Board of Education will vote next week on proposals to add a bachelor of science degree in business administration at Florida Gateway College in Lake City, and bachelor of science degrees in cardiopulmonary sciences and secondary English education and a bachelor of applied science degree in digital media st St. Petersburg College. News Service of Florida. University of South Florida officials said they will break ground for its $340 million on-campus stadium during homecoming week, Oct. 14-19. WUSF. The University of West Florida announces plans to build a new on-campus football stadium, and will use a $9 million donation from Darrell and Debbie Gooden to kick off the project. Pensacola News Journal. WEAR. Daytona State College is now offering a two-year program that can lead eligible school employees to a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate. WMFE. Pasco Hernando State College has dissolved its diversion, equity and inclusion department. WUSF. Tallahassee Community College trustee Eugene Lamb was recently selected to receive a trustee of the year award from the American Association of Community Colleges. Tallahassee Democrat.

Helping teachers reboot: The exodus of teachers leaving the profession has provided a boost for a business that helps those teachers start a new career. The Teacher Career Transition Academy is an online subscription-based program offering step-by-step help for teachers who are changing careers. More than 18,000 Florida teachers made that decision last year. Academy CEO Lisa Harding said, “I kind of had a moral, ethical question to ask myself, but I realized I’m not trying to convince teachers to leave the classroom; I’m just helping those that want to make a change and giving them the skills that they need to do so.” WFTS.

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BY NextSteps staff