Blanche Ely High School Launches its Marriott Future–Ready Lab Hotel Space

September 28, 2018

We are #BCPSProud of Blanche Ely High School for launching its Marriott Future–Ready Lab Hotel Space, thanks to the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa, in partnership with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. Watch the ribbon cutting ceremony covered by WSVN-TV and BECON-TV.

WHO:  
Blanche Ely High School Hospitality and Tourism Management Students and Staff, Broward County School Board Members, Superintendent Robert W. Runcie, and Representatives from the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort and Spa

WHAT:
Blanche Ely High School and its
Hospitality and Tourism Management program, in partnership with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and the Pompano Beach Marriott, will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Marriott Future–Ready Lab hotel space.

WHEN:            
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
8 a.m.: Networking breakfast with District and community speakers
9 a.m.: Ribbon cutting 

WHERE:
Blanche Ely High School
1201 NW 6th Avenue
Pompano Beach, FL 33060

WHY:  
Blanche Ely High School and its
Hospitality and Tourism Management program, in partnership with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and the Pompano Beach Marriott, created the Marriott Future–Ready Lab hotel space, which functions like a hotel-space complete with a front desk, bedroom and bathroom to help students receive hands-on experience in customer service and hotel management. Throughout the school year, Marriott will offer work-based learning activities for students within the Marriott Future-Ready Lab, and welcome guest speakers from different Marriot departments to teach students proper protocols, and prepare students for hotel internships and careers.

MEDIA ARE INVITED TO COVER THIS EVENT.

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second-largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has more than 271,500 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 234 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 88 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 204 different countries and 191 different languages. Connect with BCPS: visit the website at browardschools.com, follow BCPS on Twitter @browardschools and Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools, and download the free BCPS mobile app.

 

 

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BCPS Hosts Inaugural Educating All Students with Excellence Conference

September 28, 2018

Ease

Inaugural EASE Conference Reaches Maximum Capacity for Attendees

The inaugural EASE Conference, scheduled for Friday, October 5, 2018, has reached maximum capacity.  We appreciate everyone’s interest in participating in this event. Due to space and seating limitation, only participants who pre-registered are able to access the conference.  Registered participants will gain entry with a hardcopy or digital copy of the Eventbrite ticket.  We are unable to process any on-site registrations. Again, we really appreciate the interest in attending the inaugural EASE Conference and look forward to your attendance at next year’s EASE Conference. 

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) Division of Exceptional Student Learning Support, in partnership with Accelify, presents the inaugural Educating All Students with Excellence (EASE) conference,” on Friday, October 5, 2018, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., at Signature Grand, 6900 State Road 84, Davie, FL 33317. EASE is an innovative and engaging day of professional development on inclusion, which brings parents, school administrators, general and special education teachers, and service providers together for a day filled with informative, educational and awareness-building sessions on a broad range of special education topics.  

The theme for this inaugural event, which is scheduled to take place during the observance of Florida’s Disability History and Awareness Weeks, is “Promoting Inclusive Practices for Students with Disabilities.” Conference attendees can choose from a variety of concurrent interactive sessions and presentations from both practitioners and expert leaders in the field. Attendees will participate in sessions that inform and support work with children with special needs and their families.

Parents will leave better prepared to advocate for their child’s success in school and will have the opportunity to participate in sessions that help them understand how to navigate the special education process from pre-kindergarten through post-graduation. General and special education teachers, and service providers can participate in sessions that inform and support their work with children with special needs and their families. School administrators will gain insight from leading special education experts on promoting inclusive school environments, coupled with evidence-based practices, data collection and data-based decision-making. EASE also offers opportunities to connect with other professionals and exchange ideas, resources and best practices.

For questions about the conference, how to become a partner or for vendor information, contact Andrea JohnBaptiste at 954-742-9166 or EASE@axumhq.com.

 

 

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second-largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has more than 271,500 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 234 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 88 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 204 different countries and 191 different languages. Connect with BCPS: visit the website at browardschools.com, follow BCPS on Twitter @browardschools and Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools, and download the free BCPS mobile app.

 

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BCPS to Host 4th Annual College Fair – Monday, October 22, 2018

September 26, 2018

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) hosts its fourth annual College Fair on Monday, October 22, 2018, from 6 – 8:30 p.m., at Nova Southeastern University – Rick Case Arena, Don Taft University Center, 3301 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314. The College Fair is free and open to the public. Students, parents, families and community members are invited to attend. No registration is required. Free parking is available.

BCPS to Host 4th Annual College Fair – Monday, October 22, 2018


Attending the College Fair provides an excellent opportunity to explore post-secondary options and learn about financial aid and admission requirements. Students and parents will interact with representatives from more than 125 national and international, public, private, two-year and four-year colleges and universities; technical schools; and all branches of the U.S. military.

College Fair participants can attend workshops and information sessions on college and career planning, navigating the college admissions process and finding money for college. A counseling and resource center provides students and parents with personalized assistance and information on the SAT, ACT, Bright Futures Scholarships and more.

Financial aid advisors will also provide assistance to 12th grade students and their families on completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to access federal grants, loans and work study opportunities. Admissions representatives and high school counselors, advisors and staff will be on site to provide information and answer questions. Students with special needs can learn about programs and services at colleges and universities for students with disabilities. Interpreters will be available.

For a complete listing of colleges and universities participating in the College Fair, workshop topics, directions and more, visit browardschools.com/collegefair. For additional information, contact Carol Lopez at 754-321-1675.

 

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second-largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has more than 271,500 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 234 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 88 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 204 different countries and 191 different languages. Connect with BCPS: visit the website at browardschools.com, follow BCPS on Twitter @browardschools and Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools, and download the free BCPS mobile app.

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Betsy DeVos Greenlights Florida’s ESSA Plan. Now All 50 States Have Been Approved.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ESSA_StateMap-blog.jpg

It’s official! U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has finally given the stamp of approval to Florida’s plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. That means that every single state, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, has gotten the go-ahead for its plan.

DeVos said the department will now turn to working with states on implementation of their plans. (For more on how that will work, see this story.) 

“Today marks a significant milestone in the implementation of this important law,” DeVos said in a statement. “As we move into the next phase, we look forward to working with states as they bring their plans on paper to life and use the flexibilities afforded in ESSA to innovate and improve educational opportunities for all students. As I said several months ago, we don’t evaluate football teams solely on who has the better game plan on paper. We evaluate them by what happens on the field. We are eager to see how local leaders work to improve education ‘on the field’ across the country.” 

Florida first submitted its ESSA plan almost a year ago. So what exactly took so long?

The Sunshine State’s original plan tried to stick as close as possible to the A through F grading system that Florida had in place under its No Child Left Behind Act waiver.

That meant Florida didn’t want to rate schools on how well they help English-language learners achieve proficiency—an ESSA must. And the state wanted to continue to use a combined “super-subgroup” that considers the lowest-performing 25 percent of students in a school (no matter what their race, income, or disability status) rather than look at results for English-learners, students in special education, and racial minorities separately.

That flew in the face of ESSA’s requirement to take subgroup performance into account in identifying struggling schools.

The state submitted a new plan back in April that addressed those issues. It included a federal index that will be separate from Florida’s signature A-F school grading system. The new index will take English-language proficiency into account, and will be used—in addition to the school grading system—to flag struggling schools.

Florida also added language to its plan saying it will consider individual subgroup performance, not just overall school grades, in identifying schools for “targeted support” under the law.

Florida isn’t the only state that has proposed separate systems for federal and state accountability. Indiana’s state system defines high school differently than the one in its ESSA plan. And Colorado has one way of dealing with low test participation in its state system and another under ESSA. More in this story.

Despite those changes, the department still wasn’t satisfied with Florida’s plan. In fact, the feds sent the Sunshine State a letter back in June, noting that it could withhold some or all of the state’s ESSA funding if it did not submit a plan that complied with the law.

And the civil rights community wasn’t happy either. A large coalition of Latino and black activists in Florida had petitioned the federal government to reject Florida’s ESSA plan.

“The state proposes to bypass the official accountability system with a newly created shadow system, segregated from the state system for rating schools,” the state’s NAACP chapter  and the League of United Latin American Citizens wrote in a letter addressed to DeVos and several members of Congress. “The intent of Congress to focus attention on the needs of struggling student subgroups would be thwarted.”

It’s not clear yet what changes Florida made to its plan to finally satisfy the feds. We’ve reached out to the state and will update this post when we have more information.

But, already, civil rights advocates in the state are not happy with the final product—or with the U.S. Department of Education for approving Florida’s plan.

“Florida’s plan pretends to but does not actually meet the requirements of the law, [to] protect our most vulnerable students, provide clear and honest information about the performance of schools, or improve the quality of education of all Florida students,” said Rosa Castro Feinberg, the co-chair of government and media relations for the Florida chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

In particular, she’s concerned that the state didn’t embrace the law’s requirement for native-language tests, and has set up a separate accountability system for considering English-language proficiency, instead of incorporating it into the A through F system most Florida parents are familiar with.

She’s hoping that the legislature—or a new governor and state chief—might be able to make changes after the November election.

Want to learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act? Here’s some useful information:


Don’t miss another Politics K-12 post. Sign up here to get news alerts in your email inbox.

Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.

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Pioneer Middle School Joins Schools Across BCPS and the Country for Sandy Hook Promise’s National Start With Hello Call-to-Action Week

Sandy Hook Promise Logo

WHO: Pioneer Middle School Students, Sandy Hook Promise Representatives, Broward County School Board Members, Superintendent Robert W. Runcie, School and District Staff and Community Members.

WHAT: Sandy Hook Promise is hosting its fourth annual Start With Hello Call-to-Action Week September 24– 28 to promote social inclusion. This year’s kickoff event is at Pioneer Middle School.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 26, 2018 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Pioneer Middle School 5350 SW 90th Ave, Cooper City, FL 33328

WHY: The School Board approved an agreement with Sandy Hook Promise to bring its no-cost prevention programs, such as Start With Hello, into existing or new pro-social clubs at schools across the District.

Start With Hello Week enables students to make a difference with their peers in a simple, fun and impactful way by encouraging them to take small but powerful actions that promote connectedness and inclusion, and to identify and help others who show signs of social isolation.

Social isolation is the overwhelming feeling of being left out, lonely or treated like you are invisible. It is a growing epidemic in the United States, especially within schools. Young people who are isolated may struggle with learning and social development, and can become victims of bullying, violence and/or depression.

During the week of September 24 – 28, Start With Hello will teach students in grades two through 12 at thousands of schools across the country, the skills they need to reach out to and include those who may be dealing with chronic social isolation. This free and effective program can be taught by Sandy Hook Promise trained presenters in the classrooms or assemblies, or it can be self-led by schools downloading the digital curriculum.

ABOUT SANDY HOOK PROMISE: Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national, nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut. We are led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and 6 educators. SHP is focused on preventing gun violence (and other forms of violence and victimization) BEFORE it happens by educating and mobilizing youth and adults on mental health and wellness programs that identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals. SHP is a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible non-policy and policy solutions that protect children and prevent gun violence. Our intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation. For more information, visit http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/ or call 203-304-9780.

 MEDIA ARE INVITED TO COVER THIS EVENT.

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second-largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has more than 271,500 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 234 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 88 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 204 different countries and 191 different languages. Connect with BCPS: visit the website at browardschools.com, follow BCPS on Twitter @browardschools and Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools, and download the free BCPS mobile app.

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BCPS Proud to be Named District of the Year by Cambridge International

September 21, 2018

 Cambridge International

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is honored to be named District of the Year by Cambridge International. Representatives from Cambridge International presented the award during the September 18, 2018, School Board meeting. 

BCPS is the first district in the United States to receive the Cambridge District of the Year distinction. The award recognizes districts for having high academic achievements among students participating in Cambridge programs and for increasing Cambridge opportunities across the District. BCPS ranked highest among large districts for expanding Cambridge access and services and for student academic achievements.

“We are honored to be the first school district in the country to earn the Cambridge International District of the Year award,” said BCPS Superintendent Robert W. Runcie. “Congratulations to our teachers, students and staff for your success with this academically rigorous curriculum, as we remain focused on ensuring our students are college and career ready.” 

“We congratulate the students, teachers and administrators in Broward County on their exceptional level of achievement,” said Mark Cavone, Regional Director – North America of Cambridge International. “At Cambridge International, we pride ourselves on working with schools and educators to build programs that emphasize critical thinking skills, independent learning, research and communications so students are ready for future challenges.”

To watch the District of the Year award presentation by Cambridge International during the School Board meeting, visit: https://bit.ly/2QG5YWb .

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is honored to be named District of the Year by Cambridge International. Representatives

Left Photo: BCPS Superintendent Robert W. Runcie; Mark Cavone, Regional Director, North America of Cambridge International; and Sherry Reach, Deputy Regional Director, North America of Cambridge International

Right Photo: Broward County School Board Members, Superintendent Robert W. Runcie, District Staff and School Administrators with the Cambridge International Representatives

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second-largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has more than 271,500 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 234 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 88 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 204 different countries and 191 different languages. Connect with BCPS: visit the website at browardschools.com, follow BCPS on Twitter @browardschools and Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools, and download the free BCPS mobile app.

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BCPS Participates in Dads Take Your Child to School Day on Wednesday, September 26

September 20, 2018

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) celebrates Dads Take Your Child to School Day on Wednesday, September 26, 2018. The event is part of a statewide initiative with the Florida Department of Education encouraging fathers and male role models to be involved in their child’s education. The initiative highlights the significant roles fathers and male role models have in enhancing students’ educational experiences and increasing student achievement. Research shows students perform better academically, have fewer discipline problems and become more responsible adults when fathers and male role models are actively involved in their education. 

As part of Dads Take Your Child to School Day, fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, foster fathers and other male role models are invited to accompany their children to school, signifying that education is important to them and to their child’s future.

In addition, many schools are participating in special events and activities. Media are invited to cover the following school celebration:

Broadview Elementary School – Dads Take Your Child to School Day Celebration

1800 SW 62nd Avenue
North Lauderdale, FL 33068

Celebration takes place from 7:15 – 8:15 a.m.

For more information, contact Brittany D. Poitier, Community Liaison at 754-322-5500. 

Share photos from this special day with BCPS via social media using #FLDadsAtSchool18. On Twitter, remember to include the District’s handle @browardschools and @FACE_BCPS. You can also follow BCPS on Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools.

To watch a video message from BCPS Superintendent Robert W. Runcie about Dads Take Your Child to School Day, visit browardschools.com/DadsAtSchool.

For additional information, you can also contact the District’s Office of Family and Community Engagement at 754-321-1599.

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second-largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has more than 271,500 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 234 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 88 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 204 different countries and 191 different languages. Connect with BCPS: visit the website at browardschools.com, follow BCPS on Twitter @browardschools and Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools, and download the free BCPS mobile app.

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BCPS Expands Afterschool Supper Program Over 100 Schools Now Offer Nutritious Meals in Aftercare Programs

September 20, 2018

BCPS Expands Afterschool Supper Program

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) has expanded its Afterschool Supper Program to include two additional school sites, for a total of 116 schools serving nutritious meals to students. The supper meals ensure that more than 14,000 students participating in regularly scheduled afterschool educational or enrichment activity programs receive the nutrition they need to learn and grow. The suppers are funded through the Child Care Food Program, a federally funded program, which provides healthy meals in the childcare setting. Meals meet all USDA requirements and include a milk, fruit, vegetable, grain and meat (or meat alternate), and are offered in the school’s cafeteria. The healthy meals are available to children participating in afterschool programs at no separate charge regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. The new school sites beginning in October for the 2018/19 school year are: Croissant Park Elementary School and Tedder Elementary School.

Aftercare Supper Program participating schools:

Anderson, Boyd High

Ft. Lauderdale High

Pasadena Lakes Elementary

Annabel C. Perry Elementary

Glades Middle

Pembroke Pines Elementary

Apollo Middle

Gulfstream Academy at Hallandale

Peters Elementary

Atlantic West Elementary

Hallandale High

Pines Middle

Attucks Middle

Hollywood Hills Elementary

Pines Lakes Elementary

Bair Middle

Hollywood Park Elementary

Pinewood Elementary

Banyan Elementary

Horizon Elementary

Piper High

Bennett Elementary

James Hunt Elementary

Plantation Elementary

Bethune Elementary

Lake Forest Elementary

Plantation High

Blanche Ely High

Lakeside Elementary

Plantation Middle

Boulevard Heights Elementary

Larkdale Elementary

Pompano Beach High

Broadview Elementary

Lauderdale Lakes Middle

Riverland Elementary

Broward Estates Elementary

Lauderhill 6-12 STEM

Rock Island Elementary

Castle Hill Elementary

Lauderhill P.T Elementary

Royal Palm Elementary

Challenger Elementary

Lyons Creek Middle

Sanders Park Elementary

Charles Drew Elementary

Maplewood Elementary

Sandpiper Elementary

Coconut Creek High

Margate Elementary

Sawgrass Springs Middle

Coconut Palm Elementary

Margate Middle

Sea Castle Elementary

Colbert Elementary

Markham Robert Elementary

Sheridan Hills Elementary

Collins Elementary

McArthur High

Sheridan Park Elementary

Coral Cove Elementary

McNicol  Middle

Silver Lakes Elementary

Coral Park Elementary

Miramar Elementary

Silver Shores Elementary

Coral Springs Elementary

Miramar High

South Broward High

Coral Springs High

New River Middle

Stephen Foster Elementary

Cresthaven Elementary

Nob Hill Elementary

Stirling Elementary

Croissant Park Elementary

North Andrews Gardens Elementary

Stranahan High

Crystal Lake Middle

North Fork Elementary

Sunland Park Elementary

Cypress Run Education Center

North Lauderdale Elementary

Sunshine Elementary

Deerfield Beach Elementary

Northeast High

Tedder Elementary

Deerfield Beach High

Northside Elementary

Thurgood Marshall Elementary

Deerfield Park Elementary

Nova, B.F Elementary

Walker Elementary

Dillard Elementary

Nova, Eisenhower Elementary

Walter C. Young Middle

Dillard High

Oakland Park Elementary

Watkins Elementary

Discovery Elementary

Oakridge Elementary

Welleby Elementary

Dolphin Bay Elementary

Olsen Middle

West Hollywood Elementary

Driftwood Elementary

Orangebrook Elementary

Westpine Middle

Endeavor Primary Learning Center

Park Lakes Elementary

Wilton Manors Elementary

Fairway Elementary

Park Ridge Elementary

Wingate Oaks Center

Forest Hills Elementary

Parkway Middle

 

USDA Notice:

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

 

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

 

(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3) email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

 

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ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second-largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has more than 271,500 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 234 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 88 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 204 different countries and 191 different languages. Connect with BCPS: visit the website at browardschools.com, follow BCPS on Twitter @browardschools and Facebook at facebook.com/browardschools, and download the free BCPS mobile app.

 

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Watchdog Report Highlights Charter School Self-Dealing, Political Ties in Florida

A government watchdog group called Florida’s growing system of privately-run public charter schools wasteful and said it sometimes gives rise to self-dealing and profiteering.

Integrity Florida, a group which seeks to uncover public corruption, recommended more widespread disclosure of charter school finances, especially greater oversight of ways tax dollars end up in private companies profits.

The study also showed how some of Florida’s elected officials are influenced by the money in charter school development and operation.

“Some public officials who decide education policy and their families are profiting personally from ownership and employment with the charter school industry, creating the appearance of a conflict of interest,” the study says. “Lax regulation of charter schools has created opportunities for financial mismanagement and criminal corruption. … Inasmuch as charter schools can be an inefficient and wasteful option for ‘school choice,’ the legislature should evaluate the appropriate amount of funding the state can afford to offer in educational choices to parents and students.”

Charter schools are public schools. But unlike traditional public schools they operate independently of publicly-elected school boards.

Although all charter schools are nonprofits controlled by their own privately selected boards, about half of Florida’s charter schools are run by for-profit companies. In general all charter schools face fewer state restrictions and less oversight than regular public schools.

School districts are, on paper, authorizers of each charter school. However, over the years, state legislators have whittled down school district’s oversight of charter schools.

Recently the Florida Supreme Court struck down a proposed state constitutional amendment which would have let the state or some other entity authorize charter schools without school districts’ consent, using local, state, and federal tax dollars.

The court removed that amendment from the ballot, saying in a 4-3 ruling that the amendment’s language and intent were unclear.

Meanwhile, large urban districts like Duval County Schools, continue to lose students and funding to charter schools, because in Florida most school funding follows the student.

In Duval County, 16,160 of the 131,397 public school students this year (or 12 percent) attend charter schools rather than district schools. Charter schools in Duval County received $106.2 million in total funding.

Statewide about 10 percent, or about 296,000 students of Florida’s 2.8 million children, attend 650 charter schools.

Florida charter schools received $346 million in capital outlay funds alone in 2016-17, surpassing what traditional schools received some years, the study said. That doesn’t include the hundreds of millions more charter schools receive for operations and management.

Yet charter schools’ success has been mixed, most studies agree. Although many charter schools do academically outperform their district counterparts, many others do not.

“Charter schools are more likely to receive an A than all schools and also more likely to receive an F grade,” the study said. “Three percent of charter schools (16 schools) received an F grade, compared to one percent (43 schools) of all schools, in the 2016-17 school year.”

Since 1998, at least 373 charter schools have closed in Florida. When for-profit charters close, the public money spent on lease payments and building improvements is lost, because the school district doesn’t own their buildings, the study said.

Even so, charter schools’ political influence is growing.

Since its start in 1998, the charter school industry has spent more than $13 million to influence state education policy in Florida through contributions to political campaigns, the study said. Since 2007, the industry spent another $8 million on legislative lobbying.

The result has been laws encouraging the spread of charter schools and relaxation of state rules for charter schools, the report said.

Integrity Florida made several recommendations designed to eliminate and improve charter schools:

• Require for-profit companies associated with charter schools to report their expenditures and profits for each school they operate. Companies managing charter schools in more than one school district should have annual audits ensuring local tax revenue is being spent locally.

Related Blog

• Require charter schools to post on their website their original application and charter contract along with their annual report, audit and school grade.

• Charter school websites should include lease agreements, including terms and conditions and who profits from the lease payments. Limit the amount of public funds that can be used for charter school facility leases to a certain percentage of the school’s operating budget.

• Prohibit charter schools from using public education funds for advertising to attract new students.

• Require charter schools to report annually the number of dropouts, the number of withdrawals and the number of expulsions.

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Florida Legislators Reject Plan to Give Schools Money to Hire Police Officers

News in Brief

Despite repeated requests from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, legislative leaders have officially refused to steer $58 million to school districts to help them hire more campus police officers.

Scott in late August asked that legislators shift unused money from the state’s guardian program to pay for more officers. Under the guardian program, districts are eligible to receive money to train school staff to act as armed guardians on school campuses. But most districts have opted instead to hire officers despite the expense.

After a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida became the first state to require all public schools to have armed security on site. Among the districts that say they can’t afford to hire officers is Broward County, where Stoneman Douglas is located.

Vol. 38, Issue 05, Page 5

Published in Print: September 19, 2018, as Florida Legislators Reject Plan to Give Schools Money to Hire Police Officers

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