TALLAHASSEE — Unwilling to turn school staff into gun-packing “guardians,” some officials across Florida are turning to a controversial alternative to meet the demands of a state law approved after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Read the full story here. The Duval County School Board recently became the second in two weeks to approve hiring and training dozens of new, modestly paid, armed “safety assistants” to protect classrooms. Polk County school officials endorsed hiring 90 “safety specialists” a week earlier — while a host of other counties are now considering the idea. Lawmakers passed a bill this year requiring armed...

PARKLAND, Fla. — Shannon Fest has a modest goal for her 15-year-old daughter this semester: to make it through a full day of school.  See the original article here.   Two months after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, going to class is still a struggle for freshman Lauren Fest. She arrives late every morning and skips lunch because the crowds and loud noises trigger her anxiety attacks. The reminders of what happened — the empty desks in class, the shuttered freshman building where the shooting took place — are inescapable. She goes to therapy both at school...

Squad cars raced into the school’s parking lot just minutes before dismissal. Hernando County deputies spread out around the campus, and classrooms went into lockdown mode. by John Romano, Time Columnist, Tampa Bay Times.  See the original article here. For about 30 minutes, even beyond the school’s final bell, teachers and students huddled in rooms while parents were forced to await word outside. Turns out, last week’s scare at the Explorer K-8 school in Spring Hill was a false alarm. Someone in a hoodie had been seen scaling a fence, but apparently was just taking a shortcut across campus. This is the aftermath of...

Local parents and some school advocates are pushing back on a proposal to move Florida into Daylight Saving Time permanently. “It’s adding fuel to the fire and endangering children’s lives unnecessarily," said Josephine Amato. Amato, a mother of three Hillsborough County students, says children walking to school already have enough to worry about. She showed ABC Action News a frequently traveled area students take to get that she believes is hazardous. “In a drainage ditch, without a crosswalk, without lights, without a 4-foot path, all the way to Newsome High School and Randall Middle School.” This year, in an effort to shave millions from the...

The Florida House began talking about School Safety and Guns before lunch today, and is expected to continue the discussion into the early evening, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, a final vote is not expected until tomorrow.  Read the original article here. House members asked probing questions about arming teachers. Rep, Kionee McGee (D-Miami) asked: “Where in your bill does it prevent a school guardian from possessing an AR-15? In response, House Speaker-to-be Jose Oliva said many of the questions were more about delay than information. “But the idea of guarding in a classroom, and having the last line of...

Opponents outnumbered supporters in the crowd but where it mattered most, among those with the power of the vote, HB 1 proponents had a 2-to-1 advantage.  Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, listened patiently while 21 citizens registered opposition to his idea to spend $40 million on private-school vouchers for bullied students. “We are giving parents the information needed to make decisions that are best for their child,” Donalds told an education appropriations subcommittee after the public had a chance to testify. “That’s options. Those are choices. That’s what governing should be about, creating guidelines and creating a system where the people of this...

Over in District 1, candidate Angie Gallo keeps slowly pulling in money. She raised $4,925 in December, bringing her campaign haul to $10,275. So far, Gallo is the best-financed candidate in the race. Behind her is Heather Traynham. This is her second report, and for the month of December and the totality of the race, Traynham has raised $3,000. UPDATE Traynham raised $5000 after providing her report for December. Excerpted from the Orlando Political Observer.  See the full original article here....

Published in Orlando Political Observer. See the article here. By the time qualifying ends IN THIS CROWDED ELECTION YEAR, there very well may be 20 candidates running for school board. Last month, school board member Nancy Robinson filed to run for chair and raised a modest $1,000 and loaned her campaign $5,000 to start. HOWEVER, SHE HAS A NEW Opponent IN THE RACE IN  Robert Allen Prater, who filed to run two days after Christmas. His first financial reports aren’t in yet and we’re not likely to see a full report from him until February. Over in District 1, five candidates are fighting to replace school board member Joie Cadle. Angie Gallo filed to run...

Published in Orlando Political Observer. See the article here. Everyone aboard the school board train. Four seats are being contested including school board chair, and there are 13 combined candidates who have filed to run. How’s that for competition? Current Orange County School Board Chair Bill Sublette has announced a run for Orange County mayor, so he’s not seeking another term as chair. Joie Cadle, school board member who represents District 1, isn’t filing for re-election. District 2 is represented by Daryl Flynn; she isn’t returning, and school board member Linda Kobert, District 3, has drawn two challengers. For school board chair, Nancy Robbinson...

by Scott Powers Published in Orlando Rising. See the article here. Three new candidates have entered the fray for Orange County school board elections, while two more seats appear open and a third might be opening soon. The result means that five and perhaps six of the eight school board seats could be turning over in the 2018 election. The scheduled 2018 contest to succeed School Board Member Joie Cadle in District 1, representing east Orange County, grew to four candidates this week with the entries this week of Angie Gallo of Orlando and Heather Traynham and Winter Park. They join David Haynes of Winter Park, who entered the race in May,...