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Teachers in 11 Districts Have Volunteered to Be Trained and Armed

September 17, 2019 - 6:00am
Lori Berman and Manny Diaz, Jr.

School districts in 11 Florida counties are open to training teachers to carry guns in schools as a defense tactic in case of shooting situations, according to an official with the state Department of Education.

Damien Kelly, director of the state Office of Safe Schools, told the Senate Education Committee on Monday that of the 36 school districts participating in a controversial school “guardian” program, 11 have indicated an interest in arming classroom teachers.

Panhandle Schools Struggle with Michael's Aftermath

September 15, 2019 - 7:00am
Panhandle still suffers

When classes resumed in August, a number of school districts in the Florida Panhandle found that many of their students never came back.

In Bay County, the school district lost more than 3,200 students.

In rural Jackson County, 114 fewer students showed up than in the previous year.

And, in Calhoun and Gulf counties, school officials reported 83 and 32 fewer students enrolled, respectively.

Weekly Roundup: So Long, Justices, We Hardly Knew Ye

September 14, 2019 - 7:00am
Tropical depression threatens the Bahamas

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Dorian wrecked the Bahamas, a potential tropical cyclone is looming over the island chain.

Weather experts on Friday predicted “Potential Tropical Cyclone 9” could develop into Tropical Storm Humberto by the weekend, prompting Gov. Ron DeSantis to once again shift his focus to Florida’s Caribbean neighbors.

“As we monitor this depression, our prayers are with the Bahamas as they are impacted by another tropical system,” the Republican governor tweeted Friday morning.

Weekly Roundup: Cleaning Up and Helping Out

September 8, 2019 - 7:00am
Lazaretto Creek boat ramp near Tybee Island, Ga.

Days after deadly Hurricane Dorian decimated parts of the Bahamas, the slow-moving storm’s destructive winds and torrential rains continued to wreak havoc in the Carolinas.

But Florida was spared a direct hit by Dorian, prompting state officials at week’s end to shift their focus from storm preparation to recovery efforts for the Sunshine State’s damaged coastline, while offering assistance to neighboring regions that were less fortunate.

Assault Weapons Ban Could Cost Florida $26.9 Million in Lost Revenue

September 6, 2019 - 6:00am
Beth Dumond and Amy Baker

If Floridians approve a constitutional amendment next year to block possession of assault weapons, a panel of economists on Thursday estimated the state budget could take a $26.9 million hit in lost revenue.

But the head of the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research said the amount would likely be smaller because revenue lost in taxes from gun sales would be balanced out with other purchases that can be taxed.

Audit Finds Problems at Scholarship Organization

September 5, 2019 - 8:00am

Florida’s largest K-12 scholarship funding organization put at risk assistance to more than 500 students with special needs ahead of the 2018-2019 school year because staff members made a “processing error” involving enrollment documentation, a Florida auditor general report found.

The audit, issued last week, said special-needs students who were eligible for awards under the Gardiner Scholarship Program saw a delay in funding due to the error by the organization Step Up for Students. The error affected 583 students before it was fixed.

Assault Weapons Registry Would Come at a Cost

September 4, 2019 - 8:00am

A panel of state economists on Tuesday estimated it would cost $4 million to build a registry to carry out a proposed constitutional amendment that targets possession of assault weapons, if Floridians approve the measure in November 2020.

The ballot proposal, backed by the political committee Ban Assault Weapons NOW, would prohibit possession of assault weapons but would provide an exception for people who own the guns at the time the measure takes effect. Those people would be able to keep assault weapons if they register the guns with the state.

Weekly Roundup: DeSantis vs. Dorian

August 31, 2019 - 6:00am
DeSantis in Orlando, flanked by state Sen. Randolph Bracy & Adj. Gen. James Eifert

As Hurricane Dorian barrels toward Florida this weekend, all eyes are on the storm’s path and on how Gov. Ron DeSantis handles his first major natural disaster since taking over as the state’s commander-in-chief in January.

So far, the Republican governor has urged Floridians to prepare for the storm’s impact, which he said Friday could be a multi-day “major event” with a “host of issues” for the Sunshine State. 

Morgan Warns Gillum Not to Run Again

August 29, 2019 - 6:00am
John Morgan and Andrew Gillum

John Morgan, a political rainmaker, on Wednesday threatened to sue Andrew Gillum, if the Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate runs for office again. 

Morgan’s remarks to the Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee were an escalation of a public tirade over Gillum’s decision to sit on more than $3 million ahead of the November election, which the Democrat narrowly lost to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Corcoran Threatens No-Nonsense Investigation into The Able Trust's Misuse of Millions of Dollars

August 26, 2019 - 3:30pm
Richard Corcoran

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has threatened a criminal investigation into a state organization that helps Floridians with disabilities, after learning about potential misuse of millions of dollars and alleged “incompetence” on the part of its leadership.

His threats, outlined in an Aug. 15 letter obtained by The News Service of Florida, have already prompted a leadership shake-up at The Able Trust, a non-profit organization for the state education department’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

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