Finding superintendent finalists in one of Florida’s biggest school districts

·4 min read

The big story: Picking a new superintendent is among the most demanding tasks a school board can face — particularly in Pinellas County, where board members don’t want a repeat of the chaos that ensued the last time a long-tenured leader departed.

Several Florida school districts have gone down this path in recent months, and more are continuing the effort, which comes as turnover is high and interest in the job is waning nationwide.

On Wednesday, the Pinellas board quickly homed in on three of 19 applicants for the district’s top post, naming them as finalists and inviting them to come for interviews in May.

Then board members turned to related topics such as the broad strokes of what their contract offer might include, including critical pieces such as performance evaluation standards and rules for ending the contract. That’s no idle issue, board members observed, noting the recent fractious times between Volusia County’s board and now-former superintendent.

Negotiations won’t happen until after the board picks among its remaining candidates, a decision scheduled for May 17. To learn more about the finalists, click here.

Hot topics

Gender issues: Florida issued guidelines on treating children with gender dysphoria that contradict most major medical organizations’ recommendations and federal guidance. • A Duval County high school will introduce the gender-neutral title of Prom Sovereign as a way to make its prom celebration more inclusive, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Student protests: The Flagler County school district is revising its rules on student protests to protect students’ rights while also maintaining order in schools, Flagler Live reports. The move comes after two School Board members criticized the district’s response to student walkouts over HB 1557 on the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Textbooks: The Lee and Collier county school districts removed from consideration all the math textbooks that state officials rejected, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. • The Alachua County school district withdrew approval of seven math books proposed for adoption, the Gainesville Sun reports. • For some national context on Florida’s textbook decision, see this Education Week review. • A person claiming to be a whistleblower has accused some textbook publishers of offering special discounted prices to some districts but not others, Florida Politics reports.

Teacher pay: The Palm Beach County School Board was set to ratify a contract providing pay raises and bonuses to teachers, WPTV reports. The teachers union has not voted on the tentative agreement yet. • Salaries were among the top concerns that Leon County teachers raised with district officials at a town hall meeting convened for educators to talk directly with the leadership, WTXL reports.

It’s not just Florida: Former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has called on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to help boost a Michigan petition to establish a tax credit scholarship program, the Detroit News reports. • Florida is currently leading the charge in limiting lessons about gender identity and sexual orientation, but it’s not the first state to tackle the issue, The 19th reports. • A national review shows Florida school districts — like most across the nation — are slow to spend the third round of national coronavirus stimulus funds, WFTS reports. • Texas, like Florida, is considering a law to limit professor tenure, The Hill reports.

Other school news

Saint Leo University in Pasco County had plans to merge with a California university to expand its brand. It called off the deal amid accreditation troubles.

The Lake County school district wanted stronger connections and better information from students. Its student advisory committee has proven successful enough in helping with policy issues that superintendent Diane Kornegay has agreed to continue its work next year, Spectrum 13 reports.

‘It’s a real pressure cooker.’ Culinary arts students at a Lake County middle school participate in food truck wars to show off their skills and raise money for their program, WKMG reports.

The Palm Beach County school district has a new police chief. She’s the department’s fourth leader in a year, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... Have you ever watched the cool science videos from Physics Girl? This new one is about how the Earth narrowly avoided solar catastrophe in 2012.

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