Broward board pushes for another list of schools to close, tax measures, NIL, FAMU gift, prom dress code, and more

Around the state: Broward school board members question the superintendent’s new plan to deal with declining enrollment and order him to create a new list of eight schools that should be closed, Miami-Dade school officials are hearing complaints about their plans to rezone and repurpose schools, Pinellas’ school board approves the placement of a tax referendum on the November ballot, disciplinary problems appear to be on the decline in seven Volusia middle schools that added sworn deputies as school resource officers eight weeks ago, FAMU trustees meet today to discuss a controversial donation, the FHSAA will vote in June on allowing high school athletes to be compensated, and a female student at a Collier charter school was denied entrance to the junior prom because the suit she was wearing violated the school’s dress code for females. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: A district plan to rezone the boundaries for 11 schools and repurpose three others is starting to run into opposition from parents whose children would be affected. But district officials said the changes are thought-out and necessary because of enrollment declines, class size mandates, construction of new residential developments and schools, and reducing or eliminating racial isolation. Deputy superintendent John Pace said this week the process has been transparent, and that parents have alternatives. “We are a choice district and parents who don’t like the assigned schools can always find a different school,” he said. A school board vote on the plan is expected next month. WFOR.

Broward: Schools could still be targeted for closing even after Superintendent Howard Hepburn’s announcement last week that closings would no longer be considered. Tuesday, school board members expressed skepticism about Hepburn’s new plan to rezone and reconfigure schools as a way to lure students back to the public schools, and directed him to draft a list of eight schools that could close under a new set of guidelines. “It is inevitable that Broward County will close schools,” said board member Allen Zeman. The district has lost 54,000 students from its peak enrollment and has dozens of underutilized schools. The board will discuss the list at next month’s meeting. WPLG. WSVN. WTVJ. WFOR. The 1200 Building on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School campus will be demolished on or around June 17, district officials said this week. WSVN. Scot Peterson, the deputy who was acquitted for his actions during the 2018 shootings at Stoneman Douglas, is in court today asking a judge to order the sheriff’s office to pay his legal bill of nearly $250,000. WTVJ. Seven district students have been named National Merit Scholars. WPLG.

Hillsborough: Two tax issues, one that would allow the schools to pay teachers more and another that provides funding for community capital projects including schools, will be on the ballot in November, and county officials worry that voters will choose one or the other or reject both. “I think it’s something of a headwind on both efforts that they’re on the ballot at the same time,” said county commissioner Harry Cohen. “I wish things were different but they’re not.” The Community Investment Tax that helped build Raymond James Stadium, fire stations, libraries, parks, police, court and school facilities, is a half-cent sales tax that would be in place for 30 years. A 1 mill increase in property taxes could raise $177 million a year that would be used to pay teachers and administrators $6,000 bonuses, and school support employees $3,000. Superintendent Van Ayres said the tax is necessary to address employee shortages. Tampa Bay Times.

Palm Beach: Graduation ceremonies were held Tuesday for Spanish River and Santaluces high schools. Palm Beach Post. Seven teachers were honored Tuesday with Dwyer awards for excellence in education. Palm Beach Post.

Duval: A Mandarin Middle School resource officer has been arrested and accused of battery on an adult during an incident at the school in November. Curtis Omarr Williams was removed at the time and his case referred to the state attorney. School officials also said Tuesday that security guard Nathan David Behar has been fired for allegedly making statements of a sexual nature to students. WJAX. WTLV. WJXT.

Polk: School buses will soon be equipped with cameras that will record drivers who illegally pass buses that have their stop arm extended. Violators will be mailed $225 tickets. Once the cameras are installed, hopefully by August, the district will conduct “an extensive public awareness campaign” for 30 days before any citations are issued. Lakeland Ledger. WFLA. Graduation ceremonies were held Tuesday for the McKeel Academy. Lakeland Ledger.

Pinellas: County voters will be asked in November to renew a special property tax for schools that will double the rate it’s been for 20 years. If approved, the tax would jump from 50 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value to $1, giving the district the revenue to increase teacher salaries by $11,000 a year, support employees pay by almost $3,000, and expand technology, arts and literacy programs. Tampa Bay Times. Spectrum News 9. WFLA. WFTS. Four district schools are getting new principals: Andrew Akapnitis at Fairmount Park Elementary, Kimberle Noorbaksh at Campbell Park Elementary, Carmen Harris at Melrose Elementary, and Aaron McWilliams at Pinellas Park Elementary. Tampa Bay Times. A man with life-threatening stab wounds drove up to Sexton Elementary School in St. Petersburg on Tuesday afternoon to “pick up a child and seek assistance for stab wounds,” according to police, who said he was a victim in a road rage incident. Tampa Bay Times. WFTS. WTSP. WTVT.

Volusia: Seven middle schools that added sworn deputies as school resource officers eight weeks ago are reporting significant declines in disciplinary issues, school board members were told Tuesday. The number of weapons on campuses went down 52 percent, school security staff said, and there’s been a 55 percent decline in the number of threats made through social media. Cost of the extra deputies for Creekside, Deltona, Galaxy, Heritage, Holly Hill, Silver Sands, and Southwestern middle schools was $500,000. WKMG.

Collier: A complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on Monday alleges that Collier schools created a hostile environment for LGBTQ+ students and students of color by removing books with gay or racial issues or that were written by LGBTQ+ or non-white authors. WBBH. K-12 Dive. Sophie Savidge, a student at the Mason Classical Academy charter school in Naples, was turned away from the school’s junior prom last weekend because, she said, a vice principal told her she was not properly dressed for a female. Savidge wore a suit with a green tie, green vest and matching green glittery nails. School officials said the academy has a “clear dress code guidelines for all dances.” WBBH. WINK.

Leon, northwest Florida: Schools and school buses are back on schedule today in Leon County and several other northwest Florida school district after closing Tuesday because of the threat of severe weather. Leon school officials are talking with the state about making up assessment exams and the possibility of waiving instructional hours for seniors scheduled to graduate at the end of the month. Tallahassee Democrat. WTXL. WCTV.

Okaloosa: By the next school year, the city of Niceville is expected to have speed detection cameras in school zones. Drivers going more than 10 mph over the speed limit will receive $100 tickets in the mail. The city decided to install the cameras after a speed study in August showed about 5,800 speeders a day in school zones. WMBB.

Citrus: High school graduations begin Friday with CREST (Citrus Resources for Exceptional Students in Transition) and continue through May 24 for Seven Rivers Christian School. Citrus County Chronicle.

Columbia: Five district educators were honored by the school board this week with “teachers of a lifetime” award. All have worked in the district for most of their careers. WCJB.

Colleges and universities: Trustees at Florida A&M University meet today to discuss how a proposed $237 million donation from a little-known hemp farm executive that was accepted, celebrated and then doubted over several days last week. Among the warning signs were trustees not having prior knowledge of the gift, a gag order being placed on details of the donation, a lack of research on the donor, and not contacting another university that also was promised a huge donation that fell through. Tallahassee Democrat. WTXL. The University of Florida has more than 60,000 students and a community of feral cats that live around dorms, classrooms and anywhere they can find food from students and staff. A school rule that prohibits the feeding of the wild cats is widely ignored. “We’re not going to leave them starving and alone because it’s not their fault they’re outside,” said Emma Van Riper, a 21-year-old junior political science major. WUFT.

NIL vote in June: Members of the Florida High School Athletic Association board are moving ahead with a policy change that would allow high school athletes to be compensated for use of their names, images and likenesses. “Student-athletes and their parents/guardians will be required to negotiate any NIL activities independent of their school, school district, or the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association),” the proposal says. They could not use a school’s logo, uniform or mascot, and endorsements for alcohol, tobacco, vaping, gambling, cannabis, prescription drugs and weapons would not be permitted. A vote is expected at the meeting scheduled for June 4. News Service of Florida. Palm Beach Post.

Around the nation: Seventy years ago, when the Supreme Court ruled that separating schoolchildren by races was unconstitutional in the Brown v. Board of Education case, many believed integration would happen. It hasn’t. Four in 10 black and Hispanic students still attend schools where almost every classmate is another student of color. Associated Press. The 74. Education Week.

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BY NextSteps staff

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