This Video Update features FSBA Executive Director Andrea Messina giving a quick recap on several bills that moved through the committee process last week, including SB 886 / HB 669 relating to Public School Choice and HB 7029 / SB 830 relating to Charter Schools. These and other bills will be discussed in depth during FSBA’s Day in the Legislature Conference next week and detailed summaries will be available on the FSBA website. (Please scroll down below the video to access additonal information about the Public School Choice and Charter bills.)
HB 7029 – School Choice by Choice & Innovation (Comparable to SB 830 by Stargel)
Overall, this bill enhances some charter school accountability measures, creates new types of charter schools, make it easier for certain charter schools to expand, and provides some welcome amendments to non-charter school statutes.
Among the major provisions, the bill:
- Requires charter applicants to disclose the academic and financial history of schools they have previously operated;
- Requires charter schools to supply monthly financial statements to their sponsors as soon as the charter is approved;
- Allows a charter school to defer opening for up to two years after an application has been approved;
- Requires voluntary closure by a charter school be decided at a publically noticed meeting;
- Provides that a charter school that has not reached capacity may be open to any student in the state and authorizes a charter school to give enrollment preference to students who attended or are assigned to a failing school;
- Specifies that admission to or dismissal from a charter school must not be based on a student’s academic performance;
- Prohibits sponsors from requiring charter schools to adopt the school district’s reading curriculum as a condition to receiving the research-based reading allocation so long as the charter school’s reading curriculum meets certain requirements;
- Prohibits the sponsor from delaying payments to charter schools based upon the timing of receipt of local funds;
- Clarifies that termination of a charter occurs automatically when a charter school earns a second consecutive grade of “F” after school grade appeals are final, unless an exception applies; and
- Authorizes a sponsor to withhold an administrative fee of up to 3% for enrollment up to and including 250 students for a charter school that operates in a critical need area.
The bill also amends provisons relating to high-performing charter schools. The bill:
- Revises the current limitation on replication of a high-performing charter school to provide that the limit does not apply to high-performing charter schools replicated to serve the attendance area of a traditional public school identified as in need of intervention and support or to meet needs identified by the district;
- Exempts a high-performing charter school whose initial application to expand is denied by the district but overruled by the State Board from paying the administrative fee to the district; and
- Outlines specific timelines for modifications to a high-performing charter school’s charter and provides that any dispute goes directly to the Division of Administrative Hearings.
The bill creates a new section of law to establish High Impact Charter Networks. The bill gives the State Board of Education authority to designate certain charter entities – including out-of-state entities – as “high-impact” charters based on demographic, academic, and financial performance data and other factors. Schools operated by a High-Impact Charter Network will receive automatic eligibility for capital outlay funds, waiver of the administrative fee for the provision of services by the sponsor, and priority in the DOE’s Public Charter School Grant Program competitions. The bill provides that the initial High-Impact Charter Network status is valid for up to 4 years. For an entity seeking renewal, the state board must review the academic and financial performance of the charter schools in accordance with the rules established to define eligibility.
The bill also contains several provisions relating to virtual schools, acceleration options, professional development programs, and funding. The most significant of these is that the bill removes all language requiring a financial adjustment to the FEFP funding for students who do not pass end-of-course assessments.
SB 886 – Parent & Student Rights by Benacquisto (Comparable to HB 669 by Sprowls)
The bill amends s. 1002.20, F.S., relating to student and parent rights with regard to school choice. Among the major provisons, the bill:
- Requires DOE to annually determine the average amount of money estimated to be expended from all sources for the education of each student, including operating and capital outlay expenses, to provide this information to each district, and for each district to notify parents of the estimated amount;
- Requires, rather than authorizes, each district school board to establish a public school parental choice policy so that, beginnin in the 2017-2018 school year, a parent may choose to enroll his or her child in, and transport his or her child to, any public school in the state, including a charter school, which has not reached capacity;
- Provides that a student assigned to a school may not be displaced by the public school parental choice policy;
- Provides that a student may continue to attend the chosen school until the student completes the highest grade offered by the school;
- Provides that, among other things, the public school parental choice plan must adhere to federal desegregation requirements, provide a lottery procedure, give preferred access to students in multiple session schools, maintain balance in specified demographics, and provide preferential treatment to dependent children of active duty military, siblings who could attend the same school, students residing in the district, and children who have been relocated due to a foster care placement;
- Authorizes the school district to determine capacity, taking into account the specifications, plans, elements, and commitments contained in the school district educational facilities plan and the long-term work programs;
- Requires the receiving school district to accept the student and report the student for purposes of the district’s FEFP funding;
- Requires each school board to annually report the number of students exercising public school choice, by type of educational choice;
- Provides that, for a school or program that is a public school of choice under these provisions, the calculation for compliance with maximum class size is the average number of students at the school level;
- Requires each district school board to establish a transfer process for a parent to request his or her child be transferred to another classroom teacher. A school must approve or deny the transfer within 2 weeks and must specify the reasons for the denial; and
- Provides that, if a student’s teacher is teaching out of field, the parent may request a transfer to another classroom teacher and the school district must grant the parent’s request within 2 weeks.