Today, several bills of interest were considered, including bills relating to computer science instruction, students with disabilities, and elections – please click on the first link below for our report on the outcome of the consideration of these bills. Tomorrow, legislators will consider bills relating to education funding, ethics, educational enhancements, juvenile justice, and other topics – please click on the second link for more information on these, and other, bills to be considered on Wednesday. In addition, the third link below provides a brief update on progress in Congress on the federal budget and on President Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2019.
In the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:
HB 1213 – Computer Science Instruction by Porter – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
To increase opportunities for students to participate in computer science instruction, the bill:
- Defines computer science and includes computer coding and programming in the definition;
- Requires the Florida Department of Education (DOE) to identify computer science courses in the Course Code Directory and on its website by July 1, 2018;
- Requires Florida Virtual School (FLVS) to offer computer science courses so students enrolled in a school without a computer science course can receive computer science instruction;
- Requires school districts to offer students access to computer science courses through FLVS or by other means;
- Establishes a grant program to help teachers earn a computer science educator certificate or industry certification and for paying associated examination fees;
- Establishes a bonus program to award qualifying teachers, on a yearly basis for up to 3 years, who teach computer science courses identified by the DOE; and
- Requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules to implement these provisions.
[NOTE: Today’s amendments removed provisions relating to the schedule for school districts to begin to offer computer science courses and removed the needs-based technology grant for certain school districts. Funding for the teacher training grant program and teacher bonus program is subject to appropriation at an estimated cost of $13.4 million. This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1056 – is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
In the Senate Health Policy Committee meeting:
SB 260 – Students with Disabilities in Public Schools by Book — PASSED
The bill amends statutes relating to the seclusion and restraint of students with a disability and the conditions under which these students may be placed in special environments. As used in this bill, the term “student” means a student with a disability. Specifically, the bill:
- Establishes exclusionary and nonexclusionary time which is distinguished by whether the student remains in the event or instructional environment.
- Provides that a student may be placed in exclusionary or nonexclusionary time if all of the following conditions exist:
- It is part of that student’s positive behavioral intervention plan;
- Other positive behavioral supports that were not effective preceded its use;
- It occurs in a classroom or in another environments where class educational activities are taking place;
- The student is not prevented from leaving the exclusionary or nonexclusionary time area;
- The student is observed constantly by an adult throughout the time; and
- The exclusionary or nonexclusionary time area and process are free of action that is likely to embarrass or humiliate the student.
- Defines mechanical and physical restraint, provides parameters for its use and specifies that:
- Restraint may be used only when all other behavioral strategies and intervention techniques have been exhausted.
- Physical restraint may only be used when there is an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death to the student or others.
- Prohibits placing students in seclusion but provides that the term “seclusion” does not include exclusionary time.
- Provides that, if a student has been restrained more than twice in a semester, the school must conduct a review of:
- The incidences in which restraint was used and an analysis of how restraint can be avoided in future incidents;
- The student’s functional behavioral assessment and positive behavioral intervention plan by the school staff and parent within two weeks before the end of a semester; and
- The training provided to staff on the use of restraints.
- Establishes several additional requirements for school districts, replacing provisions related to seclusion with exclusionary or nonexclusionary time, adding training components, and revising notification requirements.
- Requires each school district to report its procedures for training in the use of restraint in the district’s special policies and procedures manual.
- At the beginning of each school year, requires each school district to publicly post its policies on all emergency procedures, including those on the use of restraints.
- Requires school districts to develop policies and procedures that provide for the physical safety and security of staff and students and which treat all students with dignity and respect.
- Requires schools to prepare incident reports on the use of exclusionary or nonexclusionary time within 24 hours after a student is released from that time, and specifies elements that must be included in the report.
- Provides that the required monthly monitoring reports to the department must include the exclusionary and nonexclusionary times.
- Provides that a redacted copy of the documentation created as part of the revised restraint, exclusionary and nonexclusionary reporting process will be updated monthly and made available to the public through the department’s website no later than October 1, 2018 along with aggregate and disaggregate data by county, school, student exceptionality, and other variables listed in the statute.
- Requires the Florida Commissioner of Education to develop recommendations to incorporate instruction regarding emotional or behavioral disabilities into continuing education and inservice training requirements for instructional personnel. The recommendations must also address the appropriate use of physical restraint and classroom behavior management strategies for differential reinforcement, precision commands, minimizing attention or access to other reinforcers, and exclusionary and nonexclusionary time methods.
[NOTE: This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 63 – is similar, has passed all committees of reference, and has been placed on the House Calendar on 2nd Reading.]
In the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:
HB 1129 – Licensure of Child Care Programs by Cortes – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
- Revises the definitions of child care and child care facilities, and removes the statutory requirement that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) distinguish between child care programs for school-age children requiring licensure and after-school programs that do not need to be licensed.
- Defines an after-school program as child care for school-age children during out-of-school times, including, but not limited to, before school or after school, school breaks, and in service planning days. An after-school program includes, but is not limited to, a program that does not require a parent to be present while the child is at the facility and satisfies certain elements.
- Provides exemptions from the definition of after-school program, which exempt qualifying programs from licensure.
- Establishes a licensure fee for certain after-school programs.
- Provides an appropriation of $47,040 for DCR to implement the provisions of the bill.
[NOTE: Today’s amendments established a licensure fee and provided an appropriation. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 1520 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
In the Senate Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee meeting:
SB 1650 – Child Abuse, Abandonment, and Neglect by Montford – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill revises child dependency law to improve coordination and communication among parties in dependency proceedings and add accountability measures to remove barriers to, and expedite permanency for abused and neglected children. Of particular interest to school districts, the bill clarifies that the current public records exemption that applies to reports and records in cases of child abuse or neglect, applies to instructional personnel, school administrators, and educational support employees who have provided information as collateral contacts to child protective investigators, even if the individual was not the individual reporting the alleged maltreatment to the Hotline. [NOTE: The provisions of the bill were substantially amended, but the provision clarifying the public records exemption described above was retained. This was the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 1105 – is similar but does not contain the clarification of the public records exemption. HB 1105 has passed one of three committees of reference.]
In the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee meeting:
SB 582 – Write-in Candidate Qualifying by Rader — PASSED
The bill codifies the 2016 Florida Supreme Court decision in Brinkmann v. Francois, by repealing the statute that requires a write-in candidate to reside in the district that he or she seeks to represent at the time of qualifying. [NOTE: This was the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 6009 – is identical but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
The House Appropriations Committee will meet, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, to consider the following items and others:
HB 495 – School District Price Level Index by Diaz
The bill provides for third-party review of the Florida Price Level Index (FPLI) methodology by requiring the Florida Department of Education (DOE) to contract with an independent consulting firm to conduct a review of the FPLI methodology by July 1, 2018. The bill also requires the DOE, by January 1, 2019, and every 10 years thereafter, to submit a report providing recommendations to the chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the chair of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, and the Executive Office of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget. The House budget appropriates the sum of $100,000 to the DOE to issue a competitive solicitation for the completion of the review for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
HB 7073 – Government Integrity by Public Integrity & Ethics
The bill includes various provisions designed to promote integrity in government and identify and eliminate, fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, and misconduct in government. Specifically, the bill:
- Creates the Florida Accountability Office within the Office of Auditor General for the purpose of ensuring accountability and integrity in state and local government and identifying, investigating, and recommending the elimination of waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, and related misconduct in government.
- Requires the Chief Inspector General and agency inspectors general to make regular reasonable suspicion determinations whenever initiating an investigation of fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, or misconduct in government.
- Provides a mechanism for the state to recover funds when the Chief Inspector General or an agency inspector general determines a public official, independent contractor, or agency has committed fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, or misconduct in government.
- Requires the Chief Financial Officer to regularly forward to the Florida Accountability Office copies of suggestions and information submitted through the state’s ‘Get Lean’ hotline.
- Provides a financial incentive for agency employees to file ‘Whistle-blower’s Act’ complaints and participate in investigations that lead to the recovery of funds.
- Strengthens the state procurement law to provide greater protection to the public in connection with the expenditure of public money.
- Broadens the competitive solicitation exemption for statewide broadcasting of public service announcements, currently benefiting one particularly described statewide non-profit organization.
- Prohibits, with limited exception, a state employee from lobbying for funding for an appropriation and also participating in the negotiating and awarding of any contract in connection with the appropriation.
The bill has a projected annual fiscal impact to the state of approximately $1.8 million annually to fund the salary and benefits and expected expenses to implement the provisions of this act. However, no additional appropriation is necessary as the Auditor General has sufficient carryforward funds to cover such costs for more than three years.
The House Ways & Means Committee will meet, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, to consider the following item and others:
WMC3 – Taxation by Ways & Means
The bill provides for a wide range of tax reductions and modifications designed to directly impact both households and businesses. Among other provisions, the bill includes new, extended, or expanded sales tax credits for contributions to the Gardiner Scholarship and Florida Tax Credit Scholarship programs, several changes adding flexibility to the use of tax credits under the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, a ten-day “back-to-school” holiday for clothing, footwear, school supplies, and computers and three seven-day “disaster preparedness” holiday for sales of specified items related to disaster preparedness. The total impact of the bill in fiscal year 2018-19 is -$332.7 million (-$262.2 million recurring).
The Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee will meet, 1:30 – 3:30 pm, to consider the following item:
SB 1434 – K-12 Education Enhancements by Passidomo
The bill modifies Florida education law relating to mental health services in schools, school improvement and education accountability, persistently low-performing schools, schools of hope, school funding, and the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. Specifically, the bill:
- Creates the mental health assistance allocation within the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) to provide funds for school-based mental health programs and establishes related requirements.
- Establishes the hope supplemental services allocation within the FEFP to provide schools implementing a district-managed turnaround plan or a turnaround option specified in law with funds to offer services designed to improve the overall academic and community welfare of the schools’ students and their families.
- Strengthens school improvement and accountability measures by:
- Providing that a school must complete two years of a district-managed turnaround plan before the school is designated as persistently low-performing and required to implement a turnaround option.
- Expanding the turnaround options available to a school district for a persistently low-performing school to include a franchise model school that is led by a specified highly effective principal.
- Revises school of hope provisions to require a hope operator to submit a notice of intent containing an operations plan specifying the hope operator’s intent to undertake the operations of the persistently low-performing school and incentivizes a hope operator to establish a school of hope at the district-owned facilities of the persistently low-performing school.
- Modifies the eligibility requirements and calculation methodology for specified charter school capital outlay provisions and revises the amount of discretionary millage that a school district may expend for specified purposes.
- Expands eligibility for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship to include a student who attends a persistently low-performing school.
- Renames the Collegiate High School Program as the Structured High School Acceleration Program and creates a bonus funding mechanism to incentivize school district and college interest in expanding programs.
The bill creates two new funding categoricals within the FEFP for which the Senate budget appropriates $128 million with $40 million for the mental health assistance allocation and $88,049,710 for the hope supplemental services allocation.
The Senate Civil & Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will meet, 1:30 – 3:30 pm, to consider the following items and others:
SB 1318 – Education For Prisoners by Rouson
The bill authorizes a county or municipal detention facility or the Department of Corrections (DOC) to contract with a district school board, the Florida Virtual School, or a charter school (school provider) to provide educational services to its inmates. The educational services may include any educational, career, or vocational training. The bill allows state funding for postsecondary education to be used for an inmate with less than 24 months of time remaining on his or her sentence. The bill will likely have no fiscal impact on the school districts. If the DOC or county or municipal detention facilities elect to contract with a school provider to provide services under such contract, the services will need to be funded out of an appropriation specific for this purpose.
SB 1392 – Prearrest Diversion Programs by Brandes
The bill requires the state attorney, the public defender, the clerk of the circuit court, and law enforcement agencies to establish a prearrest diversion program for adults and a civil citation or similar diversion program for juveniles in each judicial circuit. Each judicial circuit’s prearrest and civil citation or similar diversion program must specify:
- The misdemeanor offenses that qualify an offender for participation in the program;
- The eligibility criteria for the program;
- The program’s implementation and operation;
- The program’s requirements, including, but not limited to:
- The completion of community service hours;
- Payment of restitution, if applicable; and
- Intervention services indicated by a needs assessment of the offender; and
- A program fee, if any, to be paid by a participant of the program.
The bill requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to adopt rules to provide for the expunction of a nonjudicial record of the arrest of a juvenile who has successfully completed a diversion program for a misdemeanor offense. The civil citation or similar diversion programs must submit certain information to the FDLE and the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) regarding a juvenile’s participation in the program. The bill also requires each law enforcement agency to submit to the DJJ certain information relating to each juvenile who is eligible for the diversion program but is instead referred to the DJJ, provided a notice to appear, or is arrested. The bill requires the DJJ to compile such data relating to juvenile civil citation or similar diversion programs and publish it on the DJJ’s website.
The House will be in Session, 1:30 pm – completion of business to consider the following items and others on Special Order (2nd Reading):
HB 1013 – Daylight Saving Time by Nunez
The bill declares the Legislature’s intent to observe DST year-round throughout the entire state if federal law is amended to permit states to take such action.
HB 577 – High School Graduation Requirements by Silvers
The bill allows a student to use credit earned upon completion of a DOE-registered apprenticeship or preapprenticeship program to satisfy the credit requirements for fine or performing arts, speech and debate, or practical arts. The bill requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to approve and identify in the Course Code Directory apprenticeship and preapprenticeship programs from which a student may use earned credit to satisfy graduation requirements.
HB 1175 – Early Learning Coalitions by Sullivan
The bill authorizes the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) to refuse to contract with, or revoke the eligibility of, a school readiness program provider if the provider has been cited for a Class I violation. Class I violations are the most serious in nature, pose an imminent threat to a child including abuse or neglect and which could or does result in death or serious harm to the health, safety or well-being of a child.
Last week, having failed to reach a budget agreement before the most recent Continuing Resolution expired, there was a brief federal government shutdown that lasted for several hours before Congress reached an agreement on topline spending that will pave the way to complete the FY 2018 federal appropriations and budget process. The bipartisan agreement establishes new spending levels for FY2018 and 2019, and temporarily extends federal funding until March 23 to avoid an additional federal government shutdown. Congress must now put together a larger omnibus spending package that will spell out allocation of funds for the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies through the remainder of the fiscal year.
The deal passed by Congress sets the stage to boost federal spending for both defense and nondefense programs by $300 billion over the next two years and will suspend the debt ceiling for one year, knocking two major to-do items off lawmakers’ list. The bill will fund the government until March 23, which will give lawmakers time to write an omnibus spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year and break the pattern of gridlock that has led to five temporary funding patches since September. The deal also includes a number of other priorities for both parties, including nearly $90 billion for disaster relief, $6 billion to address the opioid crisis, a four-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and more than $7 billion for community health centers. However, missing from this budget deal was a resolution to immigration issues relating to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA (for more information on DACA, please see our Issue Brief on this topic).
On Monday, President Trump issued his budget recommendations for fiscal year 2019. Of interest to school board members, the President’s budget request provides $1 billion for new private school choice initiatives, $200 million for a competitive grant program to improve STEM education programs, $200 billion to improve the nations’ infrastructure (primarily for roads, bridges, and highways but does NOT include funds targeted for school construction), maintains current funding levels for Title I, maintains current funding levels for IDEA, eliminates funding for Title II (primarily teacher professional development funding), eliminates funding for Title IV (primarily for academic enrichment), and reduces funding for Impact Aid. For more details, please see NSBA’s overview of the President’s budget request HERE.