Pasco adding parental civility to handbook, school closings, flag football, USF stadium, and more

Around the state: Parental civility guidelines are being added to the Pasco school district’s code of conduct, Duval school officials hear complaints from the community about their plan to close schools, plans for new schools in Sarasota County have been delayed by budget problems, a USF committee approves contracts to building a $340 million football stadium on campus, Pasco schools propose to add girls flag football in the budget for the coming year, and graduations continue in districts around the state. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade, Broward: Silver Knight awards were presented to outstanding high school seniors from each county in 15 categories at a ceremony Wednesday night. A total of 788 high school seniors from 77 Miami-Dade and 29 Broward public, charter and private schools were nominated by their schools for the annual awards. Miami Herald.

Hillsborough: Graduation ceremonies began this week and continue through May 29. They’re being held in Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Those who can’t attend can watch on Hillsborough Schools TV. Hillsborough County School District.

Orange: High school graduation ceremonies were held Tuesday and Wednesday for Freedom, Lake Nona, Colonial and Orange Tech high schools, and continue through May 31. Most of the ceremonies are at the University of Central Florida or the Kia Center, and many will be livestreamed. Orange County School District. WOFL. Five employees at Wetherbee Elementary School in Orlando were taken to hospitals Wednesday after becoming ill. School officials are investigating the cause. WKMG. WOFL. Three principals have resigned from the UCP West Orange Charter School in little over a year. The latest to leave is Ziesha Williams-Gatlin, who had been in the job since October. She said she resigned over differences with upper management. Orange Observer.

Palm Beach: Graduation ceremonies have been held for Jupiter and Riviera Beach Prep high schools. Palm Beach Post. Three school board members have now announced they won’t run for re-election. Last week, Alexandria Ayala said she was stepping aside. Frank Barbieri and Barbara McQuinn are also leaving the board. Palm Beach Post. Only 54 percent of the county 3rd-graders are reading at grade level, according to results from state assessments tests. School board member McQuinn said the district’s literacy rates are her biggest disappointment but she also worries about the amount of testing for 3rd-graders. Counting the state tests and those mandated by the district, those students take 78 tests in 180 school days. WPEC.

Duval: Members of the community challenged school officials this week during a public meeting at Fletcher High School where potential school closings were discussed. Most of the 130-plus attendees were from the beaches, which could see considerable change to elementary schools. The general sentiment of the four-hour meeting was summarized by Fletcher teacher and coach Kevin Brown, who said, “We’re not broke, we don’t need fixing. … Go fix the stuff that’s broke.” Florida Times-Union. WJAX. The chair of the committee appointed to oversee the school district’s spending of revenues from the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2020 has resigned. Donald Green said he’s concerned about the committee’s independence after the district blocked it from enacting a resolution asking legislators to pass a bill requiring charter schools to account for how they spend their share of the revenues generated by the tax. WJXT.

Polk: Graduation ceremonies have been held for Jenkins and Tenoroc high schools. Lakeland Ledger.

Pasco: School board members are revising the student code of conduct to include new guidelines on cell phone use in schools and the clothes students can wear. But they also intend to include a provision calling for civility for parents as well as students and staff. “Sadly, we have to tell people this,” said board vice chair Alison Crumbley. “Maybe it is just the nature, the temper of our times.” Superintendent Kurt Browning said, “It’s a pretty simple concept. You treat us civilly, we will treat you civilly. You treat us with respect, we will treat you with respect.” Tampa Bay Times. Browning also said this week that his budget proposal for the coming year will include funding for girls flag football. Parents of players have been persistent in lobbying for adding the sport, but Browning has been resistant because of the costs. But no more. “I’m throwing in the flag, pardon the pun, on girls flag football,” he told the school board. Tampa Bay Times.

Brevard: Graduation ceremonies were held Wednesday for Melbourne and Space Coast high schools. Florida Today.

Osceola: High school graduations began this week and continue through May 30. Most of the ceremonies are at Osceola Heritage Park. WOFL.

Sarasota: Plans to build a K-8 and a high school in the Wellen Park area are being delayed by the district for at least a year. Chief operations officer Jody Dumas said the decision was prompted by projected budget totals in the district’s capital improvement plan for the next five years. Dumas said the district now intends to delay new construction until “we absolutely have to.” Charlotte Sun. On the heels of another salacious report on the sexual activities of school board member Bridget Ziegler and her husband Christian, members of the public renewed calls for her to resign at this week’s board meeting. But Bridget Ziegler wasn’t there to hear them; she missed the meeting to go on a field trip with her daughter, said board chair Karen Rose. Board members did approve a contract for a new charter school, Sarasota Classical Preparatory Academy. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Charlotte Sun. Laurel Nokomis School principal Raymond Wilson has been named the new principal at Venice Elementary, starting June 3. Charlotte Sun.

Marion: Students from Vanguard High School received their diplomas in a ceremony Wednesday. Graduations continue through May 28, with most of the ceremonies being held at the World Equestrian Center and the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion. WOFL. A man was shot and killed Wednesday in the parking lot at North Marion Middle School during an end-of-the-year awards ceremony in the school. Police said the suspected gunman shot the victim during an argument, and is in custody. No students were involved or witnessed the shooting, said a district spokesman. Ocala Star Banner. WKMG. WOFL. WFTV. WESH. WCJB.

Leon: A graduation ceremony was held Wednesday for Godby High School. Tallahassee Democrat. WCTV.

Alachua: School board members had little to say at this week’s about the disputed outcome of the charter conversion vote for Newberry Elementary School when asked by opponents of the change to speak out publicly. Backers of the conversion claim it passed with 50 percent of teachers approving it and the state confirming it, while the district disputes the claim and says it has yet to hear anything official from the state. Mainstreet Daily News.

Bay: Students from Arnold High School graduated in a ceremony this week. Panama City News Herald.

Citrus: Graduation was this week for students at Citrus High School. Citrus County Chronicle.

Flagler: District officials plan to take over the lease of the old Flagler Courthouse in Bunnell to consolidate a half-dozen programs in one building. First Baptist Academy had leased the building since August 2015, but is moving to a new location in August. Cost of the lease is $212,000, and the district also will likely have to spend money to adapt the old courthouse for its use. School board members gave their tentative approval this week, and would have to sign off on the lease. Flagler Live.

Hendry: District officials have announced plans to convert a vacant car parts store near downtown LaBelle into a new trades education center that would offer welding, plumbing and HVAC classes. Superintendent Michael Swindle said the center will open in August. WFTX.

Gadsden: Speed detection cameras are expected to be installed in some school zones in the county by this fall. Sheriff’s officials said a recent test showed that 96 percent of drivers going through the Greensboro Elementary School zone in Quincy during school hours were going 11 mph or more over the posted speed limit. WTXL.

Colleges and universities: A University of South Florida trustees’ finance committee has signed off on a $340 million contract with several contractors to build an on-campus football stadium. The full board of trustees will vote on the contract June 4. Tampa Bay Times.

Athletic eligibility changes: The Florida Board of Education next week will consider changes to the bylaws of the Florida High School Athletic Association that would allow student-athletes to continue playing sports even if they have graduated early, and students with a Florida Personalized Education Program to play sports at public and private schools. News Service of Florida.

Around the nation: The Biden administration has canceled student loan debt for another 160,000 borrowers totaling $7.7 billion. That brings the total forgiven to $167 billion for 5.5 million Americans. Associated Press.

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BY NextSteps staff

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