Weekly News Brief 9/24-9/30 U.S. Secretary of Education Approves Florida's ESSA Plan | Billions in Colorado school funding on the line as statewide tax, local bond issues crowd ballot

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U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Approves Florida's ESSA Plan

All 50 States, DC and Puerto Rico Plans Now Approved; Department Moves Into Next Phase of Implementation and Monitoring – From the US Department of Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today announced the approval of Florida's consolidated state plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

"Florida's plan meets the requirements of the law, so I am pleased to approve it," said Secretary DeVos. "Today marks a significant milestone in the implementation of this important law. 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," Secretary DeVos continues. "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."

Allowing states more flexibility in how they deliver education to students is at the core of ESSA. Each state crafted a plan that it feels will best offer educational opportunities to meet the needs of the state and its students.

The opportunities provided by ESSA for state and local innovation go beyond the approval of state plans. The Department has been and will continue to work with states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, as well as school districts, to improve implementation of the law and to encourage expanded use of evidence-based interventions and practices. This work will help ensure that all students, particularly educationally disadvantaged students, meet challenging state academic standards and graduate from high school ready for whatever comes next in their lifelong learning journey.



First and only free public school for students with dyslexia opens in SC – By Emily Scarlett, WIS News

There are only five public schools in the country that are designed specifically for students with dyslexia.

One of those schools is right here in the Palmetto State. The Lakes & Bridges Charter School opened up this fall in Easley.

Already, students with dyslexia say the school is a God-send. In fact, school officials say that families have moved from three different states just to be able to attend the Lakes & Bridges Charter School in Easley.

Many parents and students say it’s the overdue solution for students with dyslexia.

“The public schools are doing the best job that they know how to do," says Principal Heidi Bishop. "The teachers just are not getting the correct training to work with children with dyslexia.”

Dyslexia is a learning difference that makes it more challenging to read, write and spell, which affects one in five people.

Lakes & Bridges is one of only five schools in the nation designed especially for students with dyslexia.

The classrooms offer innovative classroom furniture, which caters to the students’ success.



Developers want to convert former IBM campus in New York to a STEM-themed private high school – By Mike Kennedy, American School and University

A former IBM campus in Somers, N.Y. may become a coed private high school that emphasizes science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning.

The Rockland/Westchester Journal News reports that the 723-acre office park would be transformed into a "world -class STEM, arts and design boarding and day‐school academy," according to a presentation made to the Town Board.

The school would be a for-profit entity, and the campus would serve up to 1,800 students in grades nine to 12. About 85 percent of those students are expected to live on campus, says Tim DiScipio, the head of Evergreen Ridge, the company seeking to develop the project.

The property is owned by 294 Route 100 LLC, which bought the site from IBM in 2017 for $31.75 million. The school, which is tentatively called Somers Academy, would lease the property from the landlord.



Billions in Colorado school funding on the line as statewide tax, local bond issues crowd ballot – By Monte Whaley, The Denver Post

By MONTE WHALEY | mwhaley@denverpost.com | The Denver Post

Coloradans are so eager to fix their state’s schools, education supporters say, they will happily vote in November for an unprecedented $1.5 billion in local bond issues to build new classrooms as well as a separate $1.6 billion statewide tax measure to boost funding for every student and increase services to special programs.

“We’ve talked to hundreds of people, not only in Jefferson County but elsewhere, and they want all kids to be in safe and secure schools and get the programming they need to succeed,” said Westminster parent James Earley, who has been lobbying for the statewide proposal, Amendment 73, as well as Jefferson County’s $567 million bond issue. “I think people see the needs everywhere.”

Yet others fear the ballot will be packed with so many school-related funding requests that tax-averse voters confronted with the statewide measure and a bond issue or mill-levy override from their local school district — or all three — may simply reject them all.

“That’s a question every school district in the fall that has something on the ballot has had to wrestle with,” said Jefferson County School Superintendent Jason Glass. “We are monitoring how things are going with Amendment 73, while also thinking about our own ballot questions. And the answer is that nobody really knows what’s going to happen.”

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