Education News

Blocked from recognition funds, 12 Florida school districts seek alternatives

The big story: Florida Republican lawmakers made no secret of their desire to punish school districts that didn’t heed their wishes on school mask mandates.

First, they talked about defunding any six-figure administrative salaries within the dozen districts that imposed strict requirements for face coverings with few ways to opt out. That idea didn’t go over so well with those who represented those counties.

Instead, they settled on not providing recognition funds — historically used to reward strong school and student performance on state testing — to the districts that bucked the Governor’s Office mask rules.

Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t signed that provision into law yet. But leaders in the school systems, which include Hillsborough County, are preparing to make do without the millions of dollars they have received in most years since Jeb Bush was governor.

The state did not provide recognition funds last year to any districts.

“We’ll try every avenue that we can to be able to bring that funding to our school district,” Hillsborough superintendent Addison Davis said.

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Hot topics

“Intellectual diversity” survey: Links to the survey of university students and staff have gone to people not associated with the schools, and some participants have filed multiple responses to the state-requested questionnaire, Florida Phoenix reports. See the survey shared by the Tallahassee Democrat.

Gender lessons: A review of emails suggests a Leon County parent’s story about her struggles with her child’s school over a gender-affirming plan is different than how Gov. Ron DeSantis portrayed it when justifying the need for HB 1557, CNN reports. • Four Florida teens and one teacher told Teen Vogue why they have been fighting the new law.

Employee shortages: Duval County school district officials said they’re struggling to fill more than 1,000 vacancies, as they prepare to ask voters to approve a property tax increase to support higher wages, WJCT reports.

Parental politics: Florida-based Moms for Liberty has grown from a small group fighting local schools over COVID protocols to a national organization influencing governors and lawmakers, Reuters reports.

Enrollment declines: Urban school districts have not seen their enrollments rebound as the coronavirus pandemic has waned, but Florida districts show stronger results than those in most other states, The 74 reports.

Other school news

Gov. DeSantis signed a new law providing added access to education services for homeless youth. The law also ensures that schools provide information to homeless students about their rights and benefits available to them, Florida Politics reports.

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The Osceola County School Board has approved a recommendation to close a recently opened charter school. Superintendent Debra Pace said the school faces significant financial troubles, WFTV reports.

From the police blotter … A Lee County private school teacher was arrested on allegations of sex crimes with a minor, WFTX reports.

From the court docket … Lawyers for the 2018 Parkland school shooter declined to seek a mistrial over procedural issues during jury selection, WFOR reports. • The state attorney general filed suit against the Miami-Dade County school district and several hospitals, contending they are interfering with settlements with companies over the opioid epidemic, the News Service of Florida reports. • An administrative law judge ruled a Palm Beach County teacher should be reinstated after being fired over planning a Holocaust education fundraiser, the News Service of Florida reports.

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Before you go … Have you ever seen these cool little creatures on a beach visit?

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