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22nd September 2022
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Florida teacher vacancies down to 4,500
There were 4,442 teacher vacancies on the first day of school this term, according to the Florida Department of Education. School districts reported a total of 5,208 vacancies, but 766 positions have since been filled. “For context – Florida has roughly 185,000 teachers and the state’s current vacancies represent approximately 2.4% of teaching positions, which is also around 1.2 open positions per school on average,” department officials said. “As always, the Department will continue to work diligently to support Florida’s teaching needs with a focus on proactively working with superintendents on a case-by-case basis.”
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Volusia County set to vote on metal detectors
A public meeting on September 27 will include a vote from Volusia County School Board members to complete the transaction for additional safety measures. “Right now, we are purchasing three metal detectors per high school, ” board member Carl Persis said. Board members say that students would only have to walk through them when a school deems it necessary. The 30 metal detectors will be housed at the 10 different high schools in the county. Officials said they can also be transported to any school that may need them. “I don’t think a day goes by where we’re not thinking, 'What else can we do to make our schools safer?'” Persis said.
Low-performing schools shadow DeSantis' state school success narrative
Danielle Brown contrasts Gov. Ron DeSantis' championing of Florida’s public education system with his relatively scant focus on the state’s most troubled schools. For the 2021-22 school year, the Hillsborough County School District in the Tampa Bay area posted the most schools labeled persistently low-performing, with 21 schools on the preliminary list. Polk County in central Florida is next, with 12 schools persistently low-performing. Then it’s Escambia County in the far west of the Panhandle with 10 schools that are persistently low-performing, and Duval in Northeast Florida with nine schools. Sonya Duke-Bolden, a communications staffer with the Duval County School District, notes efforts to decrease the number of persistently low-performing schools in the district. They include creating a learning plan for struggling students, providing educators with additional resources such as support specialists and coaches, and engaging with community support programs “to provide small group instruction,” among other measures. Meanwhile, larger districts in South Florida have fewer schools on the list. Broward, for example, has only four schools considered persistently low-performing. And the largest school district in Florida, Miami-Dade County, only has one school.
Ways for school business officials to build relationships with board members
Michael Juech, assistant superintendent of operations at the Howard-Suamico School District in Wisconsin, outlines three ways in which school business officials can develop meaningful relationships with their board members. Speaking during a session at the Association of School Business Officials International’s Annual Conference & Expo in Portland, Oregon, he championed helping board members to better understand school finance, showing how their decisions impact students, and even visiting other districts with board members. “If they’re informed and they’re educated, they can make true change, which ultimately impacts all of us — and more importantly, it impacts our students,” Juech asserted.
Hundreds of veterans have now applied to become teachers in Florida
Some 383 veterans have now applied for teaching jobs in Florida using a new pathway created by the legislature and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis signed a bipartisan bill earlier this year that gives a five-year temporary certificate to veterans who have a minimum of four years' active duty military service with an honorable/medical discharge and a minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average. For perspective, there were 494 teacher vacancies in Clay, St. Johns and Duval counties combined as of two weeks ago.
Manny Diaz welcomes New York teachers fired for refusing vaccine
The Florida Commissioner of Education is extending an "olive branch" to educators fired in New York City for failing to comply with the district’s COVID vaccine requirement and encouraging them to apply in Florida. “To fire that many teachers and deplete your forces, we welcome them here in Florida,” Manny Diaz told Action News Jax. “We see at this point even the President has called the pandemic over and I think people here in Florida have the ability to live their lives to make those decisions and those people who are educators can make their decisions for their own health.” Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar says he’s skeptical that the offer will bear fruit.
Should high school football de-emphasize hard contact?
Education Next carries a transcription of a recent conversation between Pedro Noguera, the dean of the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, and Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, regarding the safety of high school football. One suggestion they look at is switching to a 7-on-7 game that doesn't include blocking, and instead emphasizes passing skills. 
Federal cybersecurity grant to be distributed to states
The Department of Homeland Security has announced a first-of-its-kind cybersecurity grant program specifically for state, local and territorial governments across the country. Through two distinct Notice of Funding Opportunities, the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program and the Tribal Cybersecurity Grant Program, combined, will distribute $1bn over four years to qualifying projects. Ultimately, states will decide how and where to distribute funds. At a minimum though, 80% grant allocations must be distributed to local government agencies, which include school districts.
Education Cannot Wait calls for urgent funding to help crisis-impacted children
Education Cannot Wait, the United Nations' global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, is calling on world leaders to provide $1.5bn in urgent funding to help it reach 20m crisis-impacted children in the next four years. Its new Case for Investment and 2023-2026 Strategic Plan outlines a value-proposition "to create a world where all children and adolescents affected by crises can learn free of cost, in safety and without fear," including important details on the Fund's efforts to address the climate crisis, engage the private sector, ensure gender equality, catalyze political support, and enhance flexible and high-impact interventions to reach those left furthest behind. "Our case for investment is our case for humanity. It is our collective plea to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and universal human rights," said ECW Director Yasmine Sherif.

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