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First Read: Back To School, For The First Time


Duval County students returned Monday for the start of another school year. Governor Rick Scott has named the president of a Key West real-estate development company to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, replacing the former chairman who announced last week he is stepping down after 12 years on the board. With the end of a special session looming, state lawmakers scrambled on Friday to agree on a new congressional map for Florida but failed to make any headway, leaving the door open for the state Supreme Court to redraw borders.

It’s Tuesday, August 25, 2015. Welcome to WJCT First Read, your daily weekday morning round-up of stories from the First Coast, around Florida and across the country.

Here are 9 stories you don’t want to miss.

Duval County Students Start New School Year; Pre-K Students Start Very First Day Of School

The first day of school is a first-ever day for students entering voluntary pre-K. VPK is free for kids. The state gives schools a little over $2,000 for every child who goes three hours a day, five days a week. About 80 percent of Florida 4 year olds attend.

St. Johns River Advocates Hope Passion Flows Down To Younger Generation

St. Johns River advocates and museum goers attended a first-of-its-kind symposium Saturday at Jacksonville's Museum of Science and History. The event was focused on shaping the next generation of river enthusiasts.

Jacksonville’s Finance Committee Wants Parks And Recreation Funding Spent Wisely

Mayor Lenny Curry is proposing giving the Parks, Recreation and General Services Department nearly $1.5 million for projects, from the city’s Capital Improvement Plan. That’s an increase from a half-million last year.

Gov. Scott Names Key West Developer To Florida Fish And Wildlife Board

The appointment late Friday of Robert Spottswood by Gov. Rick Scott came three days after Richard Corbett, whose term on the board was scheduled to expire in January 2018, submitted his resignation to Scott.

Disease Threatens Florida Roses

Florida’s $20 million rose industry is threatened by a disease that’s devastating the flower across the Eastern United States. Researchers are working on a cure before the disease spreads in Florida, the nation’s fourth-largest producer of roses. The disease is rose rosette. It’s appeared in three north Florida nurseries and a retail store.

Governor Comments On Public Records Lawsuit Settlement

Gov. Rick Scott and other state officials recently settled multiple lawsuits that claimed they violated the state’s public records law. But, the AP reports at least one member of the state Senate was not pleased with the way in which the state used some of the funds for the settlement.

Lawmakers Head Home Without Resolving Congressional Map

The Supreme Court wants the matter settled by October 22, and the Leon County Circuit Court has asked for a map to be finalized by September 24 to allow time for review a potential appeal.  But with lawmakers leaving special session empty handed Florida is just diving further into uncharted territory.

Planned Parenthood V. AHCA Abortion Fight Heads To Court

The fight between Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration and Planned Parenthood ramped up this week with a lawsuit.  The state says three planned parenthood Florida clinics admit to performed abortions outside the scope of their licenses, but the clinics insist they did nothing wrong.

Dow Index Closes Below 16,000 After Plunging Nearly 3.6 Percent

Led by an 8.5 percent drop in China's Shanghai composite index, U.S. and global stock markets took a dive Monday. Shortly after opening, the Dow Jones index fell by more than 1,000 points, or 5 percent. The Dow then zigzagged to close at 15,871, losing about 3.6 percent of its value.

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Ray Hollister can be reached at, 904-358-6341 or on Twitter at @rayhollister.