When the Florida House Education Committee meets Thursday, it will take up a proposal that could dramatically change the face of the state's public school system, opening it to more charter schools.
PCB EDC 17-03 aims to ramp up the intervention system for traditional schools that struggle under the state accountability and testing program. It would expand early warning requirements on student performance into elementary grades, and overhaul the responses for schools that cannot overcome the obstacles.
School districts would be directed to declare educational emergencies for schools with grades below C, allowing them to renegotiate contract terms to eliminate programs seen as standing in the way of academic improvement.
For schools facing required turnaround plans, the choice of a district-managed option -- the most popular one currently used -- would be deleted. Districts would have to choose among reassigning students to other schools, closing the campuses and reopening them as charters, or hiring an outside operator. …
Rushe Middle School would begin classes at 7:25 a.m. rather than the current 8:40 a.m. Anclote High School would start at 8:45 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m.
If approved, the changes would place each school on the same operating schedule as the others that share their campus, Sunlake High and Paul R. Smith Middle, respectively. The middle and high school students would ride the same buses, a similar arrangement as already takes place on several other joint campuses including River Ridge and Hudson middle-high schools.
The new Cypress Creek Middle-High School also will operate with one set of buses and the same bell times (7:25 a.m.).
The proposed moves arose for two different reasons, assistant superintendent Betsy Kuhn said.
The district transportation department asked to open Rushe earlier in the day in conjunction with the scheduled debut of a new bus garage in Odessa. With the move of some buses from other garages, Kuhn said, "We needed another school with an earlier start time" to make the routes run smoothly. …
Overall, the House has proposed a $20.424 billion bottom line, compared to the Senate recommendation of $20.963 billion. The House would increase per-student spending by 0.27 percent, to $7,223.71, while the Senate calls for a 2.91 percent rise, to $7,414.26. …
TAMPA -- Six minutes was all it took for University of South Florida staffers to realize they were going to need a bigger building.
They had announced that Academy Award-winner Viola Davis would deliver a free lecture on campus on April 4, during its annual USF Week. As soon as a link for tickets went live, students snapped them up.
Behind the scenes, USF officials conferred. The university has hosted big speakers before, but this demand blew past their expectations.
Each year, students on the University Lecture Series board decide how they want to use student funds to bring speakers to campus, hitting the sweet spot of entertaining and educational.
Viola Davis was the dream speaker on students’ lists this year, even before she won an Oscar for her role in Fences and delivered a rousing acceptance speech.
“The students truly wanted her,” said Monica L. Miranda, who works with the student committee as director of the Center for Student Involvement. “They didn’t want her because she was an Academy Award winner. That was a bonus to them.”
Booking the star of The Help, Doubt and ABC's How to Get Away with Murder cost $70,000, pre-Oscar. …
But lawyers for the sides left much of their legal argument for another day, deciding instead to focus on testimony while debating whether the board followed Florida's rulemaking laws in setting new attendance boundaries.
On Tuesday, their legal briefs -- 27 pages each -- were formally filed with the Division of Administrative Hearings. After all the time spent by parents declaring the harm caused to their families and explaining how they were not well informed of the proceedings, and the district countering the claims, the positions boiled down to a few key points.
In the plaintiffs' recommended final order, lawyer Robert Stines reiterated his key point that the district had engaged in rulemaking, as evidenced in the language of some of its own documents and depositions, and did not follow all the necessary steps outlined in law, from notification to explanation of the rule. …
Boltze was credited with improving Connerton's climate and performance after the contentious leadership of Anna Falcone, who resigned under pressure in 2013. In the midst of personal problems, Boltze agreed to take an assistant principal job in summer 2016, with the understanding she might return to heading a school once her issues were resolved.
Her promotion goes to the School Board for consideration on April 4.
Parents and employees of the Hillsborough County public schools might have to wait another month for a decision about next year's school hours.
District leaders had hoped to have a "bell schedule," as the arrival and dismissal times are called, ready for a board discussion and vote on Tuesday, April 4. But they now want to take more time to explore their options.
The board's next scheduled business meeting is May 2.
"We are still gathering input from our stakeholder group meetings, which include students, parents and teachers," said spokeswoman Tanya Arja.
One option, widely circulated on social media, would have traditional elementary schools start at 8:30 a.m. instead of the current start time of 8 o'clock. Middle school would start at 9:30 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. High schools, which now typically start at 7:33 a.m., would begin at 7:15 a.m. But that's just one scenario, district officials said.
The reason for the changes, which would take effect when school resumes on Aug. 10, are twofold.
First: The current system gets some buses to school chronically late. The district also is trying to economize by getting maximum efficiency out of its fleet of roughly 1,000 buses. …
Two bills that hadn't moved in past sessions of the Florida Legislature gained momentum this week as key committees recommended their approval with little lawmaker dissent.
The advancement of measures on textbook challenges (HB 989 / SB 1210) and computer coding (HB 265 / SB 104) prompted critics to move into high gear in explaining their concerns with the language in each.
Complaints that the computer coding bills would allow high school students to replace foreign language credits with coding course appeared to be tamped down as House PreK-12 Quality chairman Rep. Jake Raburn assured speakers that the foreign language swap had been removed in a committee substitute.
That did little to assuage advocates for improved math and science instruction, such as Florida State physics professor Paul Cottle, who fired back on his blog that "Florida Legislators trying to boost high school computer science enrollment by sacrificing other important disciplines are missing the whole point." …
In this 2012 photo, Candy Olson, then a Hillsborough County School Board member, takes part in a music class at Mitchell Elementary. Board members aren't always welcome for school visits in some Florida counties. A bill supported by the Florida Coalition of School Board Members aims to change that.
Reporter Jeff Solochek speaks with Shawn Frost, president of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members, about a bill that would allow board members to visit schools. Right now, in some instances, elected school board members are barred from such visits, which Frost says can prevent them from seeing what's really going on in schools.
Florida's prekindergarten through high school public education system could see increases in funding under the budget proposal unveiled Tuesday in the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.
Chairman Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said the spending plan would bring the state's voluntary prekindergarten program to its highest level of funding since its creation 15 years ago. It also would bump up per-student K-12 funding 2.91 percent, a higher percentage than in three of the past five years, Simmons said.
He and staff built the budget without change to the required local effort on taxes, which would mean local property owners could see the amount they pay in taxes rise if their values went up. Leaders in the Florida House have said they would not support any tax increases, but also have indicated they wanted to put more money into prekindergarten through high school funding.
The House has recommended cuts in higher education funding, which might be where some of the added money comes from. The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee is to present its budget proposal later in the day.
Care about whether the Pasco County Commission increases school impact fees? The county's 10-person impact fee advisory committee will take public comment at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The committee, comprised of five commission appointees and five School Board appointees, will hold its first meeting Wednesday to begin considering the board's request for a near doubling of the charge made on new home construction.
The board made its recommendation after noting it cannot afford to build schools quickly enough to meet the needs of the county's fast-growing population.
A Pasco County parent reviews a novel that some parents objected to as inappropriate for middle school children in 2016.
In the face of parent and community complaints about the content of some school books and materials, Florida lawmakers on Monday moved ahead legislation to make it easier to see what schools are using and challenge the items.
House sponsor Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, told the House PreK-12 Quality Committee he wanted simply to create an open, transparent process to ensure children get the most objective and least objectionable materials available. Seeing as the state spends $200 million annually on books and other materials, he said, it makes sense to put more local oversight in place.
He stressed that the Legislature should not be setting all the guidelines for what is picked. "That isn't a job for the Legislature," said Donalds, whose wife sits on the Collier County School Board. …
Gradebook features education articles and insights on schools in Florida, focusing on Tampa Bay area schools. What's the latest from the Florida Department of Education? How is the FCAT being used to compare Florida schools? What's going on in Tampa Bay schools? Get an insider's view from the Times education reporting team.