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More Parents Are Defaulting on College Loans For Their Children, Costing Taxpayers

| April 6, 2014

The Parent Plus program allows parents to take out essentially uncapped amounts to cover college costs, regardless of the borrower’s income or ability to repay the loan. But default rates, while still modest, have nearly tripled over the last four years.

As Baker Acting of Children Soars, Flagler School Board Grapples With Perceptions of “Outrage”

| April 3, 2014

Baker Acts involving children in schools has reached 32 so far this year, three times more than last year, prompting one school board member to call herself “outraged” at the police-led manner in which most such Baker Acts are carried out, even with teens and younger children.

Rick Scott’s Dilemma: Helping Undocumented-Immigrant Students Or Sticking to His Base

| March 31, 2014

While Scott has repeatedly said he supports a proposal to end annual 15 percent tuition hikes, he’s remained mum about the portion of the bill that would grant in-state tuition to undocumented students, or Dreamers.

“Opportunity Scholarships”: Lawmakers Revive Vast Expansion of School Vouchers By Riding Coattails of Students With Disabilities

| March 29, 2014

The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee voted 8-4 to introduce the measure, which would bind together a program aimed at students with disabilities and the voucher expansion. Senate leaders last week pulled their counterpart to the House voucher bill, but the measure for students with disabilities remains alive.

The Problem With “Step Up for Students,” Florida’s Voucher Jockey

| March 24, 2014

Step Up For Children CEO Doug Tuthill is shameless about the way his organization–the administrative agent for Florida’s school voucher program–spends lavishly on political races, which may explain why a Senate proposal to vastly expand the voucher program this year foundered.

Bill Vastly Expanding School Vouchers Dies As Questions About Accountability Mounted

| March 22, 2014

The decision represents a defeat for the GOP’s Will Weatherford, who was home schooled as a child and strongly pushed the expansion of the system, which gives companies tax credits for donating to scholarship funds that help children attend private schools. Under the bills, retailers would have been allowed to divert sales-tax payments to the system.

In-State Tuition For Undocumented Immigrants Passes House, 81-33, as GOP Opposition Thins

| March 20, 2014

The measure allows undocumented immigrants to pay cheaper, in-state tuition rates if they attend Florida middle and high schools for at least four straight years before going to college.

As Flagler District Prepare to Offer Voluntary Pre-K at all 5 Elementary Schools, Board Questions Raising $60 Fee

| March 19, 2014

The half-day VPK programs are free, but many parents opt to leave their children for longer hours that coincide with extended-day care before and after school, at a cost of $60 a week. District administrators are looking to raise that fee to accommodate the expansion of VPK.

Common Core and FCAT Replacement Test Leads “Florida Standards” To $220-Million Contract With AIR

| March 17, 2014

The $220 million contract with American Institutes for Research, which has been providing tests for just seven years, will be cheaper than it would have been to go forward with a test developed by a multi-state consortium that Gov. Rick Scott ordered Stewart to back away from last year, according to the Department of Education.

6-Year-Old Girl Is Baker Acted From Old Kings Elementary; Palm Coast Man Accused of Rape

| March 11, 2014

The 6 year old’s Baker Act is the second time in two weeks that a young child was Baker Acted from an elementary school in Flagler. Separately, Andrew J. Vasquez, a 23-year-old resident of 56 Filbert Lane in Palm Coast, was arrested on March 9 and charged with rape.

NRA-Backed Measure to Let Armed Vets and Ex-Cops In Schools Triggers Controversy

| March 11, 2014

Under the bill, opposed by the state School Board Association, principals and school superintendents could appoint staff members or volunteers who are military veterans with honorable discharges, active military or retired law enforcement officials as gun-toting “designees.”

Girl, 15, Uses School-Issued Macbook to Record Alleged Sex Assault by 22-Year-Old Man

| March 10, 2014

Keith Foreman III, an R-Section resident, is in jail this morning on $11,000 bond, on charges of lewd and lascivious battery and marijuana possession following an incident his alleged 15-year-old victim video-recorded on the Macbook Air issued by the Flagler County School District.

A 7-Year-Old Girl Is Baker Acted at Belle Terre Elementary; It’s Not Punishment, District Says

| March 4, 2014

The Baker Acting of a 7-year-old girl at Belle Terre Elementary last week, following a report of her allegedly lacerating the dean of students with thumb tacks, is one of three or four Baker Acts of students in the district every month, though they’re usually older. The district defends the Baker Acts as a necessary last resort that addresses underlying issues, and that must not be seen as retribution or punishment.

A Matanzas High Teacher Reveals Her Evaluation Scores, and the Absurdity of Florida’s “VAM” Scam

| February 26, 2014

What do my almighty “VAM” scores reveal about me, my students, the quality of my instruction or what goes on in my classroom? Absolutely nothing, writes JoAnn Nahirny, who deconstructs Florida’s new teacher-evaluation scores, hers among them, and shows why they have little basis in reality, though they may well define a teacher’s fate.

For Special Education Students in Flagler, a Program That Unlocks Barriers Through Art

| February 26, 2014

Now in its second year, Very Special Arts is an after-school program for students with learning disabilities that helps them find their talent and their place among peers. The program is under the leadership of Sue McVeigh, a former Flagler County schools employee of the year.

Flagler Beach Woman and St. Johns Man Face Capital Charges of Raping 2 Girls Younger Than 12

| February 25, 2014

Rhonda Lynn Wilkerson, 49, of Flagler Beach, faces one rape charge and William C. Dillow, 27, of St. Augustine, faces two rape charges, after girls in a Flagler County school revealed the alleged incidents to staff. The incidents took place in St. Johns County.

Bitter Criticism and Some Caution from Flagler School Officials on State’s Teacher Rankings

| February 25, 2014

The Flagler and Florida Education Association, the state’s teachers union, is criticizing the state’s so-called “value-added model” that presumes to rate teachers’ effectiveness, calling the data “flawed.” Many teachers and a Flagler County School Board member are also critical of the data, but for varying reasons, while Flagler’s superintendent cautions against making too much of the numbers.

“Massive Expansion” of School Vouchers Would Fund Private Education at Public Expense

| February 20, 2014

Under the proposal, retailers could divert sales-tax payments to the system; middle-class families would qualify for partial scholarships; and each scholarship would cover more of the cost of attending a private school.

12-Year-Old Rymfire Elementary Girl Faces 2 Felony Charges in Knife Incident at Bus Stop

| February 19, 2014

The 12-year-old Palm Coast girl faces charges of aggravated assault and the reckless display of a weapon, both felonies, for allegedly pulling a 12-inch knife on a 10-year-old boy and threatening to slash him. Both the boy and the girl accuse the other of teasing repeatedly in the past.

Florida Lawmakers Edging Toward Offering In-State Tuition for Some Undocumented Immigrants

| February 19, 2014

A measure allowing some undocumented students to receive in-state tuition was easily approved Wednesday by a House subcommittee, but the bill still faces a steep climb in the Senate.

Matanzas and Flagler Palm Coast High Learn Of Suicide of Senior Alexandria Rodriguez

| February 19, 2014

On Tuesday, the grandfather of Alexandria Rodriguez, an 18-year-old senior who’d attended Matanzas High School last year and Flagler Palm Coast High School until Thanksgiving, came to FPC to retrieve her two younger sisters and inform the administration that Alex, as she was known, had committed suicide that morning.

State Board of Education Approves Common Core Changes But Opposition Persists

| February 18, 2014

The approval followed a raucous public hearing that seemed to indicate that passionate opposition to the benchmarks remains despite a concerted effort by Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Education to tamp down conservative anger over the standards.

Ronald Reagan Republicans Launch Campaigns In Every Local Flagler Race, Signaling Insurgency Against GOP Incumbents

| February 18, 2014

Six candidates introduced themselves Monday evening, including two for school board, two for the Palm Coast City Council, and two for the Flagler County Commission. Six of the seven are running against incumbent Republicans, suggesting that the Triple-R’s are looking to be the insurgent candidates of this election cycle—against their own party.

In a 1st, Flagler Requires All Juniors to Take SAT, Raising Concerns About County’s Image If Grades Drop

| February 12, 2014

On February 26, almost 1,000 juniors–double the usual number–will take the SAT at Matanzas and FPC, but School Board member Colleen Conklin worried that the resulting drop in average results may send the wrong message to families and businesses looking to relocate to Flagler County.

No Surprise: Flagler School Board Votes 5-0 To Appoint Jacob Oliva Superintendent

| February 4, 2014

The initial tally, reflecting how board members ranked the two candidates, was actually 4-1, with Collen Conklin voting for Pam Tapley of Osceola County schools, but the vote to actually appoint Oliva superintendent was unanimous, to reflect the board’s unanimity.

Jacob Oliva, In Commanding Performance Through Superintendent Interview, Describes Gains and Promise of Innovations

| January 30, 2014

Acting Flagler Superintendent Jacob Oliva was second and last in the school board’s interviews Thursday. Surprising board members by challenging existing norms such as zero-tolerance policies, Oliva projected a strong command of his administrative leadership while outlining a series of recent innovations and more to come.

In Day’s 1st Interview, Superintendent Candidate Pam Tapley of Osceola Projects Bubbly Personality, Passion and Generalities

| January 30, 2014

First of two interviews for school superintendent Thursday, Pam Tapley proved immediately personable, well-spoken, occasionally funny and comfortable with herself and the board, but she was less in command of specifics when answering probing questions by the board.

Youth Leadership Flagler’s 2nd Class Looking For 10th-Grade Applicants

| January 28, 2014

The Flagler County Chamber of Commerce is looking for 10 future leaders of Flagler County to join the organization’s Youth Leadership Program next fall. The application deadline for current 10th graders is March 14, 2014.

Scott Proposes Increasing Education Funding By $542 Million, Mostly For Public Schools

| January 27, 2014

The bulk of the new spending — $542 million — would go to public schools. While that is far lower than the approximately $1 billion increases Scott sought in each of the last two years, his office touted the fact that it would bring spending on education to the highest level in state history in terms of raw dollars, though unadjusted for inflation.

Yet Another Candidate For Superintendent Withdraws, Reducing Interviews to Two

| January 27, 2014

Kevin Perry, an assistant superintendent in St. Lucie County schools, is the latest candidate to withdraw from contention, which means only acting superintendent Jacob Oliva and Osceola Assistant Superintendent Pamela Tapley will be interviewed on Thursday.

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