Malcolm Thomas

Governor Rick Scott is ordering the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, regarding the shooting at Marjory Stone Douglas High School in Parkland.  

Seventeen people were killed in the attack. The sheriff's office is under scrutiny after veteran Deputy Scot Peterson, who was assigned to the school, did not confront suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz, and for failing to submit reports of tipster calls before the shooting.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Out of the more than 90 proposals now before the Constitution Revision Commission, one deals with class sizes and teacher pay in Florida’s public schools.

Voters in 2002 approved a constitutional amendment placing strict limits on public-school class sizes. But the question has been whether the limits provide enough educational bang for the buck.

In the third and final installment of our “Back to School” series, we take a look at the Escambia County District.

With more than 40,000 students, Superintendent Malcolm Thomas oversees the largest district in the western Panhandle. And he adds there’s always a special enthusiasm at this time of year, just before the first class bell rings.

School districts across Florida have turned out their latest crop of graduates. When it comes to graduation rates, the Escambia County School District has been working to catch up to the state and neighboring counties. For an update on how the district is doing, WUWF recently caught up with Superintendent Malcolm Thomas.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month and in part two of our series “Dave Dunwoody visited Escambia County’s child advocacy center.

Located on 12th Avenue, Gulf Coast Kid’s House features professionals and resources for the intervention, investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases, under its kid-friendly roof.

“We’ve got such a competent team here in the building; they’ve all been doing this a very long time,” said Executive Director Stacy Kostevicki.

During fiscal year 2016, Gulf Coast Kid’s House served more than 3,600 children.

Florida’s 67 school districts have one, undesirable, common thread these days: their increasing problems in staffing their classrooms, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel.

The number of Florida university students graduating with education degrees has fallen since 2006 by nearly 5,000, while public-school enrollment has grown, by nearly three million this year. One of the core issues, perhaps the largest, in recruiting and retaining teachers is the paycheck.

Screengrab from YouTube: Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy DeVos Opening Statement (C-SPAN)

Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as U.S. Education Secretary is drawing praise from supporters and derision from opponents. Meanwhile, a couple of local school superintendents are watching what could happen next.

Vice President Mike Pence broke the 50-50 deadlock in the Senate on Tuesday to confirm DeVos. Two Republicans voted with Democrats against confirmation. Florida’s U.S. Senators split along party lines. Republican Marco Rubio voted for DeVos, Democrat Bill Nelson voted against.

Photo via Flickr//Allison Meier / https://flic.kr/p/5KRnrx

  First, the good news: statewide, the number of failing schools was cut in half. When it comes to school districts, the results were mixed. Not a single district in the state improved its grade and half of them went down.

Sandra Averhart

Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas is looking for more than a few good men and women. He says between Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties there's a need to hire five to six hundred new teachers for the next school year. And to get that process started, the district is holding a Teacher Fair this Saturday for anyone interested in becoming a teacher in the county. "If you've thought in the back of your mind 'I'd like to be a teacher I wonder what's expected of me?

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

About 200 people gathered at Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Resource Center for breakfast Friday to celebrate accomplishments and set goals. The cause: ECARE, Every Child A Reader in Escambia.
 
State of Florida statistics gleaned from kindergarten readiness screening tests, indicate that about 1,200 Escambia County students arrive for the first day of kindergarten ill-prepared to learn. The ECARE membership, business leaders, educators, and volunteers have made it their mission to change this by building a strong foundation of early literacy skills in pre-school.

National Writing Project

In 1974 The University of California Berkeley established a program for teachers called the Bay Area Writing Project. In just two years it expanded to 14 sites in six states. That was the beginning of the National Writing Project. Now the University of West Florida has become one of the Project’s newest sites.  

Photo via Flickr// dhendrix73 / https://flic.kr/p/bwjp7D

Poor vehicle maintenance, shoddy record keeping and a host of code violations were uncovered during an investigation of G.B. Green Construction, after its dump truck hit a school bus in late August.

Sixteen students and driver Harriet Collins were injured in the crash when the dump truck – driven by Abraham Larry Jr. – ran a red light at Pace Boulevard and Jordan Street, striking and overturning the bus.

fldoe.com

Florida’s new standardized test for public-school students is valid according to a new study. The state Department of Education says that paves the way for the exam to be used in teacher evaluations and school grades.

The study on the Florida Standards Assessment was conducted by Alpine Testing Solutions and edCount, LLC, and gets a thumbs-up from Education Secretary Pam Stewart.

U.S. Department of Education

The new school year starts next week and area educators are hoping this year’s innovations will turn last year’s disruptions into distant memories. "We're looking forward to a very vanilla year, this year" said Santa Rosa Country School Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick. It's not that he has anything against the other flavors in the ice cream aisle, it’s just that last year had a little more flavor than educators were expecting.

Photo via Flickr// woodleywonderworks / https://flic.kr/p/8Jkhjr

The Escambia County School Board voted Tuesday to spend about $2 million for property, on which to build a new middle school in the western part of the district. The plan was set in motion last month.

Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says the land, currently an abandoned airfield on West Nine Mile Road, is the school district’s answer to the booming population growth in that part of Escambia County.

The Escambia County School Board voted Tuesday to spend about $2 million for property, on which to build a new middle school in the western part of the district.  Dave Dunwoody reports

Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says the land, currently an abandoned airfield on West Nine Mile Road, is the school district’s answer to the booming population growth in that part of Escambia County.

About half a million students across the state took Math tests this year that will end up not counting towards their final grade. WUWF’s Bob Barrett spoke with Escambia County School Superintendent about this latest situation involving testing in Florida.

Office of Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott visited Pensacola Monday, to present a check to the Escambia County School District from the Florida Department of Education. The money is for sustained or significantly improved student achievement at individual schools. 

“It’s because you’ve worked hard,” said Gov. Scott. He was at Blue Angels Elementary School, speaking before a backdrop of students, teachers and administrators.

After a very shaky roll out last week, the first round of writing tests for the new Florida Education Standards have been taken by 8th, 9th and 10th graders. But confidence in the new system is still pretty low.

The first round of tests for the new Florida Standards has started and things are not going smoothly. Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas is dealing with a lot of frustrated students and teachers.

"The last few days have been very traumatic for students trying to take the Florida Standards Writing Assessment". 

And he’s not alone. School districts across the state are having trouble logging in to the new state testing system for students.

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