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Appeal set in pronouns lawsuit, tax pitch, Duval leader’s salary, vouchers for religious schools, and more

Around the state: The state’s appeal of a judge’s ruling in favor of a Hillsborough transgender teacher’s suit over a law restricting educators’ use of personal pronouns and titles in schools will be heard by an appeals court on Sept. 16, Orange County school leaders use the annual state of the schools address to urge voters to support the renewal of a half-cent sales tax, the man chosen as Duval’s next school superintendent wants a salary of $350,000 a year, a report says 82 percent of Florida students who get state vouchers use them to attend religious schools, a Duval high school that has had five teachers removed for misconduct in the past 15 months hires a new principal, Broward school officials are banning backpacks during the final week of school, and the search for a new Florida Atlanta University president is expected to resume today. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: The quarterbacks coach of the Miami Norland Senior High School football team was shot and killed early Monday in his apartment in Opa-locka. Police are asking the public for help, and a $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in the killing of Keon Smith, 49. Grief counselors have been sent to the high school to help students and others. WFOR. WPLG.

Broward: Students are prohibited from carrying backpacks or bags during the last week of school, starting Monday and ending on the final day of school June 10. District officials said the decision is safety-related. “We are prioritizing the safety of our students and staff by implementing additional safety measures during the final days of school,” the district said in a statement. “Lunches may be brought in a small lunch box. A small pouch may be allowed for personal hygiene items.” WSVN.

Orange: In her annual state of the schools address Monday, Superintendent Maria Vazquez said the district’s new cellphone policy is working, the graduation rate is up and the number of A-rated schools increased by 17 since last year, to 77. But the bulk of the presentation was devoted to convincing voters to approve the renewal of the half-cent sales tax that funds the district’s construction needs and renovations. Without it, Vazquez said, the district faces a shortfall of $4 billion over the next 10 years. “We really would be facing dire straits,” she said. “That half-penny has been able to fund new schools and all of the renovations so our facilities are safe and state-of-the-art.” School board chair Teresa Jacobs added, “In terms of facilities, that is the only solution. That’s one of those areas that this state is not funding the way they used to and especially for a high-growth county like Orange County.” Orlando Sentinel. WOFL. WKMG. WESH. Spectrum News 13. Central Florida Public Media.

Duval: Christopher Bernier, who was chosen by the school board last month to become the next school superintendent, is proposing he be paid $350,000 a year. That’s at the top of the scale the district advertised in its job posting, and $50,000 more a year than the previous superintendent, Diana Greene, was making. Bernier resigned in April as superintendent of the Lee County School District, where he was paid $275,000 a year. District officials are working on a counteroffer.  WJAX. A new principal has been appointed at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, which has been rocked in the past 15 months with five teachers being removed for having inappropriate relationships with students. Timothy Feagins, who has been the principal at Riverside High, will replace Tina Wilson, who will assume a new leadership district role to serve students with disabilities and their families after being principal at Douglas Anderson for three years. Florida Times-Union. WTLV.

Volusia, Flagler: Florida ranks 16th in the nation in what it pays starting teachers, at $47,178, and both the Volusia and Flagler school districts top the state average. In Volusia, first-year teachers make $48,670, and in Flagler the initial pay is $49,451. In average teacher pay, Florida ranks 50th at $53,098. Volusia’s average is $50,911. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Alachua: Charges have been dropped against a St. Patrick Interparish School assistant principal who was accused of ignoring claims that the school’s physical education teacher was inappropriately touching children. Ryan Clemens, 41, won’t be charged with child neglect or tampering with evidence, prosecutors said. WCJB.

Colleges and universities: A long-suspended search for a president at Florida Atlantic University is expected to resume Tuesday, when trustees begin considering hiring a search firm. The first search was suspended by the state amind allegations of improprieties in the process. Stacy Volnick has been the interim president since John Kelly resigned two years ago. News Service of Florida. The University of Central Florida is partnering with the U.S. Department of Education in a program called Project Bridges, which pays for master’s degrees in exceptional student education for students who commit to working in in the field for at least four years. WLRN

Pronoun case hearing: The state’s appeal of a judge’s ruling in favor of a Hillsborough transgender teacher’s suit over a 2023 law restricting educators’ use of personal pronouns and titles in schools will be heard by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Sept. 16. In April, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the state from enforcing the law against Hillsborough County teacher Katie Wood. The state had asked the 11th Court to speed up its appeal of Walker’s ruling. News Service of Florida.

Free summer meals: The Hillsborough, Seminole and Clay school districts have joined others around the state in offering free breakfasts and lunches to children 18 and under this summer through the federal Summer Food Service Program. Areas where 50 percent or more of the children qualify for free and reduced-price meals during the school year are eligible. WFTS. WKMG. WJAX.

Around the nation: Religious private schools are getting billions of dollars in taxpayer money from states with expansive school vouchers, according to a report compiled from state data. One of those is Florida, which has a universal voucher program that cost more than $3 billion and used by nearly 400,000 students — with 82 percent of them attending religious schools. “It’s the parents’ money to use as they see is best,” said Brian Hickey, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Ohio. “We don’t necessarily see it as taxpayer money.” Washington Post. With K-12 students’ reading scores at the lowest levels in years, some states have switched instruction methods from balanced literacy to structured literacy. NPR.

Opinions on schools: The delay in the release of the state’s science instructional adoption list has to at least be posing an inconvenience for Florida’s school districts. And that’s one more hassle they just don’t need. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.

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