With three weeks remaining in the Legislative Session, the chambers are rapidly moving bills into position for passage. In addition to the passage of individual bills, it is expected that legislators will create at least one “train” of education bills – combining all or part of several bills into one omnibus bill. In general, to be eligible to be added to a train, in some cases, legislators are satisfied if a bill has passed at least one committee of reference while, in other cases, the more stringent requirement that a bill pass all committees of reference is pursued. But, in either case, there are always exceptions and ways to work around these general practices, particularly as time begins to grow short toward the end of the session. As examples, a bill may be withdrawn from one or more committees of reference or a particularly desirable provision may be amended onto several bills in the hope that at least one of the bills will become eligible and thus allow the bill or the provision to be added to the train. This is why we make it a point to keep you informed of how many committees of reference remain for each bill and we have begun to note where specific provisions have begun to appear in several different bills. These efforts to move bills through committees of reference and line up amendments to bills that are moving will continue and happen rapidly in the coming weeks.
Please review our report on the bills of interest that were considered in committees today, including bills relating to charter schools, scholarship programs, and local tax referenda. In addition, the very full schedule of meetings and floor sessions and the long list of bills that will be under consideration tomorrow is linked below.
[toggle title=”Today’s Happenings – April 17, 2017“]
In the Senate Education Committee meeting:
SB 796 – Charter Schools by Bean – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The bill creates the High-Impact Charter Management Organization (HICMO) designation, authorizes certain entities to apply for the designation, and defines related terms. Specifically, the bill:
- Establishes the process and criteria for the initial designation and renewal of the designation.
- Provides incentives for HICMO entities to operate in Florida.
- Requires the Florida Department of Education (DOE) to provide school districts with technical assistance to ensure that federal funds are allocated to charter schools using an appropriate methodology.
- Removes the requirement that a charter school must have satisfactory student achievement based on state accountability standards to receive charter school capital outlay funding.
- Directs the State Board of Education to adopt rules to administer the HICMO provisions.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment was technical in nature. This is the first of four committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion bill but this bill, and/or SB 1362 (below), may serve as a companion to HB 7101 relating to charter schools and/or HB 5105 relating to Schools of Hope.]
SB 902 –Gardiner Scholarship Program by Simmons – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill modifies the Gardiner Scholarship Program (GSP) to:
- Expand the definition of disability for purposes of the GSP.
- Revise student eligibility criteria for participation in the GSP.
- Authorize the procurement of additional services using GSP funds.
- Provide that a private school with material exceptions to its agreed-upon procedures reports in consecutive years or that is unable to comply with GSP requirements may be deemed ineligible for GSP participation by the Commissioner of Education.
- Clarify GSP award amount calculation.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment was a strike-all amendment that clarified several provisions and removed reference to an appropriation amount. This is the first of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – SB 15 – is comparable, has passed all committees of reference, and has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar of bills on 2nd Reading for 4/18/17.]
SB 1362 – K-12 Education by Broxson — AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill creates the designation of High-Impact Charter Network (HICN), defines related terms, provides incentives for HICN entities to operate in Florida, and establishes application and review processes for the designation. In addition, the bill:
- Eliminates the requirement for the Department of Education to compare student performance data of charter schools within a school district with public schools within that district, and with the other charter schools in Florida as well as the posting of such information on each charter school’s Internet website.
- Allows a collocated school to receive a school improvement rating if all the schools at the site are eligible for a school improvement rating and do not elect to be graded.
- Replaces statutory reference to the ACT Aspire test with the Preliminary ACT.
[NOTE: Today’s amendments were both technical amendments that did not change the basic content of the bill. There was discussion about how these HICN schools would be held accountable and/or how student progress and success would be measured. Others expressed concern that this would leave traditional public schools perpetually underfunded. This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 7101 – is comparable, has passed all committees of reference, and has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar of bills on 2nd Reading for 4/18/17.]
SB 1474 – Teacher Certification by Perry — PASSED
The bill modifies the process for earning temporary educator certificates and renewing professional certificates. Specifically, the bill requires the Florida Department of Education to issue:
- A professional certificate to any applicant who fulfills the statutorily requirements for a professional certificate and completes a professional preparation and education competency program approved by the DOE.
- A temporary certificate to a qualifying applicant within 14 calendar days after the receipt of the request form and electronically notify the applicant’s employee school district or employing private school that the temporary certificate has been issued.
- o Requires the DOE to issue an official statement of status of eligibility within 90 calendar days after the stamped receipted date of the completed application. This statement must be provided electronically and specify every method by which an applicant can complete the qualifications for a professional certificate.
- Revises the professional development certification and education competency program to specify a teacher mentorship and induction component; and authorizes charter schools and charter management organizations to provide the program that includes the teacher mentorship and induction component.
[NOTE: This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 1111 – is similar, has passed all committees of reference, and has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar of bills on 2nd Reading for 4/18/17.]
SB 1586 – Student Eligibility for Interscholastic Athletic Competition by Garcia — PASSED
The bill requires the pre-participation physical evaluation form to contain information that advises a student to complete cardiovascular assessment including an electrocardiogram. Additionally, the bill clarifies that licensed practitioners must administer the medical evaluation that a student must satisfactorily pass before participating in interscholastic competition or engaging in any practice, tryout, or other physical activity associated with the student’s’ candidacy for an interscholastic athletic team. [NOTE: This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion bill.]
In the Senate Community Affairs Committee meeting:
SB 278 – Local Tax Referenda by Steube – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill revises the dates and requirements that apply to any referendum to levy a discretionary sales surtax, including the school infrastructure surtax. As amended today, the bill provides that, other than a surtax that will be revenue-neutral to the county, special taxing district, or both, a referendum to adopt or amend a local government sales surtax must be held only at a general election and requires the approval of a majority of the voters voting on the ballot question for passage. A referendum on a surtax that will be revenue-neutral to the county, special taxing district, or both may be held at a special election or conducted by mail ballot. [NOTE: SB 278 and the House companion bill – HB 139 – had become very similar and were nearly aligned, but today’s amendment to SB 278 departs from this alignment so the bills are no longer similar. The short summary above reflects the changes to SB 278 that were made today. This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion – HB 139 – is now comparable and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
SB 914 – Public Meetings by Baxley — PASSED
The bill creates a new statutory provisions to codify judicial interpretation and application of the terms: de facto meeting, discussion, meeting, official act, and public business. The bill specifies that members of a board may participate in fact-finding exercises or excursion to research public business, and may participate in meetings with a member of the Legislature if:
- The board provides reasonable notice;
- A vote, official act, or an agreement regarding a future action does not occur;
- There is no discussion of public business that occurs; and
- There are appropriate records, minutes, audio recordings, or video recordings made and retained as a public record.
In addition, the bill provides that, if there is a gathering of two or more board members where no official acts are taken and no public business is discussed, then no public notice or access is required. [NOTE: This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 919 – is identical but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
In the Senate Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee meeting:
SB 856 – Education/Instructional Personnel Contracts by Broxson – TEMPORARILY POSTPONED
The bill clarifies that a district school board must issue contracts on an annual basis to instructional personnel hired on or after July 1, 2011, by specifying that the district school board may not:
- Award an annual contract based on a contingency or condition that is not expressed in s. 1012.335, F.S.; or
- Alter or limit its authority to award or not award an annual contract as provided in s. 1012.335, F.S.
[NOTE: This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 373 – is identical, has passed the House, and has been received in the Senate.]
[toggle title=”Coming Up Tomorrow – April 18, 2017“]
Please note that all of the meetings listed below may be viewed via live webcast on the Florida Channel. For real-time updates on these meetings and other legislative activities, please click HERE to access our Twitter feed.
The House Appropriations Committee will meet (9:00 am – 12:00 pm; 212 KOB) to consider the following items and others:
HB 1235 — Military and Veteran Support by C. Latvala
The bill adds to and revises various benefits available to active duty service-members and veterans of the United States Armed Forces with regard to rental applications, veteran-owned businesses, employment of military spouses, and student veteran support. Specifically, the bill:
- Requires expedited processing of a housing rental application, if required, for a military service-member’s spouse and other adult dependents who plan to reside in the same rental unit;
- Requires the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) to create a website to streamline the procedure for applying for certification as a veteran business enterprise;
- Authorizes the Florida Supreme Court to admit the spouse of a military service-member to practice law in this state provided that the Florida Board of Bar Examiners certifies that the spouse meets certain criteria;
- Requires the Department of Education (DOE) to expedite the processing of educator certification requests for the spouse of a military service-member and extends the validity period of a temporary educator certificate for two additional years; and
- Provides legislative intent regarding the collaboration between the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors on issues related to academic credit for military training and coursework, student progression and success, and student services.
[NOTE: This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 1588 – is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
The Senate will be in Session (10:00 am – 12:00 pm; Senate Chamber) to consider the following items and others:
Bills on 2nd Reading
SB 148 – Students Remaining on School Grounds During School Hours by Garcia
The bill authorizes district school boards to adopt policies for allowing students to leave school grounds during school hours, with some exceptions. Specifically, the bill:
- Clarifies that district school board procedures for granting permission for students to leave school grounds during school hours includes the school lunch period; and
- Provides that in a district that has more than 100,000 students in prekindergarten through grade 12, a school may not permit a student to leave school grounds for the lunch period unless the student’s parent has, in writing, consented for his or her child to leave school grounds during the lunch period for the school year.
[NOTE: The House companion bill – HB 85 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
The House will be in Session (1:00 pm – completion) to consider the following items and others:
Bills on 2nd Reading
HB 7085 – Workers’ Compensation by Burgess
Workers’ compensation is the injured employee’s remedy for “compensable” workplace injuries. Employees generally cannot sue a covered employer for workplace injuries. Florida courts have recently found multiple parts of the workers’ compensation law unconstitutional in the areas of carrier paid injured worker attorney fees, time limits on temporary wage replacement benefits, and the right of an injured worker to pay for their own attorney. For these and other reasons, the Office of Insurance Regulation ordered a rate increase of 14.5% effective December 1, 2017. In order to comply with court rulings and also reduce costs, the bill makes the following changes to the workers’ compensation law:
- Permits direct payment of attorneys by or for claimants.
- Increases total combined temporary wage replacement benefits (TTD/TPD) from104 weeks to 260 weeks.
- Fills a benefit gap that happens when TTD/TPD ends, but the injured worker is not at overall maximum medical improvement and/or no overall permanent impairment rating.
- Allows a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) to award an hourly fee that departs from the statutory percentage based attorney fee schedule.
- o This is only permitted if the statutory fee is less than 40% or greater than 125% of the hourly rate customarily charged in the local community by defense attorneys, with the JCC determining the relevant facts.
- o If the departure fee is allowed, the JCC determines the hourly rate, not to exceed $150 per hour, using statutory factors and the number of necessary attorney hours.
- Makes the injured worker responsible for any remaining attorney fees if required by their retainer agreement; the retainer agreements must be filed with the JCCs, but are not subject to JCC approval.
- Allows insurers to uniformly reduce premiums by no more than 5 percent, if they file an informational-only notice within 30 days, subject to regulatory oversight.
- Creates a mechanism to fill vacancies on the Three-Member Panel; grants the Panel authority to fill gaps in statutory reimbursement when adopting schedules of maximum reimbursement allowances for medical care.
- Requires a good faith effort by the claimant and their attorney to resolve disputes prior to filing a petition for benefits; mandates a specified notice regarding attorney fees be signed by the claimant; increases the requirements applicable to petitions for benefits; eliminates carrier paid attorney fees for services occurring before the filing a petition; attaches attorney fees 45 days (rather than 30 days) following the filing of a petition; requires a JCC to dismiss a petition for lack of specificity, without prejudice, within 10 days or 20 days, depending upon whether a hearing is required.
- Eliminates the charge based reimbursement of health care facility outpatient medical care in favor of reimbursing them at 200% (unscheduled care) and 160% (scheduled surgery) of Medicare. If no Medicare fee exists, then current reimbursement standards apply, which are incorporated into statute.
- Requires the authorization or denial of medical care authorization requests, unless there is a material deficiency.
- Provides for collecting additional information on attorney fees.
[NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1582 – is comparable and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 599 – Public Works Projects by Williamson
State contracts for construction projects that are projected to cost in excess of $200,000 must be competitively bid. Counties, municipalities, special districts, or other political subdivisions, including school board, seeking to construct or improve a public building must competitively bid the project if the estimated cost exceeds $300,000. The bill creates a new section of law relating to public works projects. The bill defines terms and prohibits the state or a political subdivision, except when required by state or federal law, from requiring a contractor, subcontractor, or material supplier or carrier engaged in a public works project to:
- Pay employees a predetermined amount of wages or prescribe any wage rate;
- Provide employees a specified type, amount, or rate of employee benefits;
- Control, limit, or expand staffing; or
- Recruit, train, or hire employees from a designated, restricted, or single source.
In addition, the bill provides that the state or a political subdivision that contracts for a public works project may not prohibit a contractor, subcontractor, or material supplier or carrier from submitting a bid on the project if such individual is otherwise qualified to do the work described. This provision does not apply to vendors that have been convicted of a public entity crime or have been found to have committed discrimination. The bill’s prohibitions apply only to public works projects of which 50% or more of the cost will be paid from state-appropriated funds that were appropriated at the time of the competitive solicitation. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 534 – is identical and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 7101 – K-12 Education/Charter Schools by PreK-12 Innovation
The bill makes several revisions to current policies relating to charter schools and related issues. The bill:
- Revises the date a sponsor must receive all charter school applications from August 1, to February 1, beginning in 2018, for a charter school to open 18 months later or at a time agreed to by the applicant and the sponsor.
- Removes the provision allowing a charter school applicant to submit a draft application to a sponsor for review.
- Increases the amount of time the sponsor has to approve or deny an application from 60 to 90 days.
- Requires the sponsor and the charter school governing board to use the standard charter contract which incorporates the approved application and any addenda approved with the application but specifies that any term or condition of a proposed contract that differs from the standard contract shall be presumed a limitation on charter school flexibility.
- Allows a high-performing charter school to establish more than one charter school a year only if it chooses to operate in and serve students from an area where a school is subject to differentiated accountability.
- Provides a high-performing charter school whose application has been denied a hearing by requiring that an appeal of such denial be brought before the Charter School Appeals Commission.
- Clarifies that a high-performing system may replicate a school in any district in the state and establishes a streamlined high-performing standard application form for replicating a high-performing charter school.
- Requires the high-performing standard application form to:
- contain goals and objectives for improving and measuring student learning;
- contain an annual financial plan for each year requested by the charter for operation of the school for up to 5 years;
- disclose the name of each applicant, governing board member and all proposed education services providers, the name and sponsor of any charter school operated by each applicant, each governing board member and each proposed education services provider that has closed and the reasons for the closure and the academic and financial history of such charter schools, which the sponsor shall consider in deciding whether to approve or deny the application.
- Deletes the list of specific services that charter school cooperative agreements may provide and instead allows charter schools to enter into cooperative agreements to further any educational, operational or administrative purposes in which participating charter schools share common interests.
- Authorizes a nonprofit organization or municipality that operates a charter school to use unrestricted surplus or unrestricted net assets from that school for K-12 educational purposes in other schools they operate in the state.
- Specifies language regarding administrative fees for charter schools, high-performing charter schools and charter school systems and removes the restrictions on eligible expenditures of the funds resulting from the difference between the total calculated amount of administrative fees and the amount the district may withhold.
- Requires charter schools to annually complete and submit a survey to rate the timeliness and effectiveness of administrative services provided by sponsors. The Department of Education must develop and administer the survey, compile the results by district and include them in the annual authorizer report.
- Revises LEA eligibility status by removing the requirements that a system of charter schools include both conversion and non-conversion charter schools and the system does not contract with a for-profit service provider for management of school operations.
- Allows a charter school system’s governing board to be designated as an LEA for purposes of receiving federal funds for all schools within a school district that are established under the turnaround option and are under the jurisdiction of the governing board.
- Removes the provision that charter school student performance data be compared to student performance data of traditional public schools.
- Requires a high school to include, in its graduation rate, a student who transfers from the high school to a private school with which the school district has a contractual relationship.
- Allows the use of concordant scores, in addition to assessment scores or comparable scores, in determining an alternative school’s school improvement rating.
- Provides that any facility or portion of a facility used to house a charter school is exempt from ad valorem taxes.
- Provides that specified entities — including a library, community service, museum, performing arts, theatre, cinema, church, Florida College System institution, college, and university — may provide space to charter schools within their facilities under their preexisting zoning and land use designations and clarifies that the charter school within such entites shall not have to obtain any special exception, rezoning, land use charter, or other approval.
- Removes the requirement that students at both traditional public schools and charter schools receive online instruction in a classroom setting in a blended learning course.
- Revises the requirement that a student must be enrolled in grade 5 or 6 to be eligible to enroll in the College-Preparatory Boarding Academy Pilot Program to allow any student currently enrolled in grades 5-12 to be eligible to enter the program, if the operator determines that a seat is available.
- Requires school districts to provide Title I funds directly to all eligible schools and limits the amount of Title I funds that a district may withhold as follows:
- 1% for parent involvement.
- A necessary and reasonable amount for administration not to exceed 8%.
- A reasonable and necessary amount to provide homeless programs, delinquent and neglected programs, and private school equitable services.
- Provides that all remaining Title I funds must be distributed to all eligible schools in accordance with federal law and regulation.
- Provides that schools may participate in district-wide or district sponsored initiatives by paying a proportionate share of Title I funds to the school district.
The bill also:
- Clarifies when the controlled open enrollment process applies to charter schools;
- Clarifies that charter schools and their governing boards are subject to the same waiver of sovereign immunity in tort actions as the state, state agencies and or subdivisions;
- Deletes language regarding federal funds that conflicts with federal requirements for the distribution of such funds;
- Renames the ACT Aspire assessment to the preliminary ACT;
- Removes the requirement that an eligible dual enrollment program be located and chartered in Florida and revises eligibility requirements for postsecondary institutions to participate in dual enrollment by requiring that the institution be accredited by any regional or national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. DOE (rather than only the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools); and
- Requires sponsors to notify a charter school if they intend to not renew a contract and provide the charter school with a hearing.
[NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1362 – is comparable, though not nearly as extensive as HB 7101. It has passed one of three committees of reference.]
HB 15 – Educational Options by Sullivan
The bill expands access to the Gardiner Scholarship Program (GSP) by:
- Including rare diseases, anaphylaxis, orthopedically impaired, deaf, visually impaired, dual sensory impaired, traumatic brain injured, other health impaired within the definition of disability or students medically diagnosed as hospital or homebound for more than six months;
- Providing that an IEP used to qualify for a scholarship does not need to be reviewed or revised within the past 12 months;
- Removing the requirement that a student be 3 or 4 years of age by September 1, before applying to the GSP;
- Allowing those who enter the program with a high-risk disability to remain in the program without being reassessed to document another eligible disability when they turn 6 years old; and
- Extending eligibility to any student who has an IEP written in Florida or in another state. A student with an IEP whose sole exceptionality is gifted is not eligible for a GSP.
- Including Florida hospitals as approved providers and expanding eligible uses of funds to include fees for services provided by:
- Members of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International; and
- A therapist certified by the Certification Board of Music Therapists or credentialed by the Art Therapy Credentials Boards.
The bill increases accountability by:
- Prohibiting parents, students or a provider of services from billing an insurance company, Medicaid or any other agency for the same services that are paid using GSP funds;
- Providing that a private school may not be eligible to participate in the program if its financial reports have consecutive years of material exceptions;
- Defining “inactive” to mean that no eligible expenditures have been made from the scholarship account and requiring that payments from the state into the account stop if the account has been inactive for two consecutive fiscal years. When an SFO verifies eligible expenditures have been made from the account, payments may resume based on available funds; and
- Providing that a scholarship account be closed and funds revert to the state (becoming available for other eligible students) if the account has been inactive for three consecutive years.
In addition, the bill clarifies that, beginning with the 2017-2018 fiscal year, for students with a matrix, the GSP scholarship amount must be based on that matrix and revises the date that a private school’s agreed upon procedures report is due to the SFO from September 15, to August 15, each year.
With regard to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC), the bill
- Removes obsolete language regarding student eligibility and funding;
- Increases the base annual scholarship limits for students enrolled in eligible private schools from 82% of the unweighted FTE to:
- 88% of unweighted FTE for grades K-5;
- 92% of unweighted FTE for grades 6-8;
- 96% of unweighted FTE for grades 9-12.
- Increases from $500 to $750 the amount of a transportation scholarship for a student who chooses a public school outside his or her district;
- Authorizes an SFO to make scholarship payments to eligible private schools by funds transfer. Payments must be approved by the parent before the funds are deposited and a parent may not designate an entity or individual associated with the participating private school as their attorney to approve a fund transfer.
- Permits a dependent child of a parent who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces to apply for a scholarship at any time.
- Revises the date that a private school’s agreed upon procedures report is due to the SFO from September 15, to August 15, each year and provides that a private school may be ineligible to participate if it has consecutive years of material exceptions identified in its report.
- Requires Department of Revenue to provide a copy of the denial or approval letter to the SFO within 10 days after approving or denying any of a specified list of transactions.
HB 7057 – Civic Literacy by PreK-12 Quality
To bolster civics instruction in Florida and prepare students to be civically engaged, knowledgeable adults, the bill:
- Designates the month of September as “American Founders’ Month” and authorizes the Governor to issue a proclamation urging public and private organizations within the state to celebrate the month;
- Encourages all public schools to coordinate instruction on the founding fathers with “American Founders’ Month;”
- Requires the Just Read, Florida! Office to develop sequenced, content-rich programming to help elementary schools incorporate social studies, science, and fine arts content into literacy skills instruction;
- Provides that it is a priority of the K-20 public education system to prepare students to become civically engaged and knowledgeable adults who make positive contributions to their community;
- Requires students entering a Florida College System or State University System institution in 2018-2019 or thereafter to demonstrate competence in civic literacy either through a general education civics course or by passing an assessment adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) or the Board of Governors (BOG); and
- Require the chairs of the SBE and BOG to jointly appoint a faculty committee to:
- develop a new course in civic literacy or revise an existing general education core course in American Government or American History to include civic literacy; and
- establish competencies and identify outcomes for the course.
[NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1710 – is similar and has passed two of four committees of reference.]
HB 1331 – Education/Schools of Excellence/Certification by Grall
The bill requires the State Board of Education to designate a school as a School of Excellence if it has a school grades score in the 80th percentile or higher, statewide, for schools of its type (elementary, middle, high, or combination) for 2 of the last 3 school years. A school retains its designation for 3 years unless it earns a school grade lower than a “B” during that span. A school may renew its designation if it remains in the 80th percentile or higher for 2 of the 3 years and does not receive a grade lower than a “B.” The bill provides the following administrative flexibilities to a School of Excellence:
- Exemption from any provision in law or rule that expressly requires a minimum period of daily or weekly instruction in reading.
- The same autonomy over personnel and budgetary decisions for the school’s principal as provided to principals participating in the Principal Autonomy Pilot Project Initiative.
- Exemption from district-set starting and stopping times for the school day.
- Allowing a teacher to substitute 1 school year of employment at a School of Excellence for 20 inservice points toward the renewal of their professional certificate, up to 60 inservice points.
- Calculation for compliance with maximum class size at the school level rather than the classroom level.
The bill also addresses the issue of certification as follows:
- Provides that a temporary certificate holder who completes an approved professional development certification program and earns a highly effective rating will qualify for a renewable professional certificate without having to complete additional classwork or pass the Professional Education Test.
- Allows a charter schools and charter management organizations to offer a professional development certification and educator competence program and requires the mentorship and induction component of a program to, at a minimum, provide weekly opportunities for specified mentoring and induction activities. The mentorship and induction activities must be provided for a teacher’s first year in the program and may be provided until the teacher attains his or her professional certificate. The bill requires the DOE to adopt standards for approving a professional development certification and educator competence program, including the mentorship and induction component.
- Allows mentoring activities, including serving as a mentor, to count towards a teacher’s inservice requirements for certification renewal. The bill requires professional development activities to provide training to mentors. The bill requires model professional development programs disseminated by the DOE to include effective mentorship activities to new teachers and training to mentors.
- Streamlines the temporary certificate application process and revises provisions related to the expiration of a temporary certificate.
[NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1598 – is comparable, has passed one of three committees of reference, and is on the agenda for the Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee today (see below).]
HB 493 – Enhanced Safety for School Crossings by Toledo
The bill requires DOT to evaluate the viability and cost of establishing a uniform system for the designation of safe school crossing locations on arterial or collector roads within a one-mile radius of all schools. The bill requires DOT to report its findings to the Governor and Legislature before January 1, 2018. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1416 – is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 655 – Exceptional Student Instruction by Porter
Current law requires that, after receiving the notification that an exceptional student is located in a residential facility, the receiving school district must review the student’s IEP to determine if it can be implemented by the receiving school district or by a provider or facility under contract with the receiving school district. The receiving school district must:
- provide educational instruction to the student;
- contract with another provider or facility to provide the educational instruction;
- contract with the residential care facility in which the student resides to provide the educational instruction; or
- decline to provide or contract for educational instruction.
The bill removes the option for school districts receiving an exceptional student with a disability who resides in a residential facility to decline to provide or contract for educational instruction. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1368 – is comparable, has passed one of four committees of reference, and is on the agenda for the Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee today (see below).]
HB 989 – Instructional Materials by Donalds
The bill provides for greater transparency in the district-level adoption process and more opportunities to review and challenge materials made available to students by:
- Allowing parents and residents of the county to provide the district school board evidence that an instructional material for adoption by the district does not meet the state criteria, contains prohibited content, or is otherwise inappropriate or unsuitable;
- Allowing county residents to contest the adoption of an instructional material and object to the use of a material made available to students;
- Requiring the process for contesting the adoption of an instructional material to provide for an impartial hearing officer and to provide certain procedural protections;
- Requiring school districts to discontinue use of a material found to be inappropriate or unsuitable;
- Requiring school districts to provide access to library materials upon written request;
- Requiring school districts to maintain a current list of purchased instructional materials on their websites;
- Requiring that instructional materials purchased using the instructional materials allocation be on the state-adopted list unless purchased through a district instructional materials program;
- Requiring that instructional materials purchased through a district instructional materials program meet the criteria for inclusion in the state-adopted list, be aligned to the state academic standards, and be consistent with course expectations and course descriptions;
- Eliminating the requirement that 50 percent of the instructional materials allocation be used to purchase electronic or digital materials; and
- Clarifying that a school district is responsible for the content of all materials made available to students, including those that may not meet the statutory definition of an instructional material.
- The bill also specifies that an instructional material must be free of content that is pornographic or harmful to minors in order to be recommended for inclusion in the state-adopted list and that any material used in a classroom must also be free of such content.
[NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1210 – is comparable and has passed one of two committees of reference.]
HB 293 – Middle Grades by Burton
The bill directs the Florida Department of Education to issue a competitive solicitation for a contract to conduct a comprehensive study of states with high-performing students in grades 6 through 8 in reading and mathematics, based on the states’ performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The findings of the study and the recommendations to improve middle school study performance must be reported to the Governor, the State Board of Education, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by December 2017. The study must include a review of the following general topics:
- Academic expectations and instructional strategies.
- Attendance policies and student mobility issues.
- Teacher quality.
- Middle school administrator leadership and performance.
- Parental and community involvement.
In addition, the bill deletes the requirement for middle grade students to complete the career and education planning course. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 360 – is comparable and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 1109 – Private School Student / Extracurricular Activities by Antone
Current law provides that a student attending a private middle school or high school may participate in interscholastic or intrascholastic sports at a public school that is zoned for the physical address at which the student resides if the private school where the student is enrolled is not a member of the FHSAA and has an enrollment of less than 125 students. The bill revises private school student eligibility by allowing a student in a non-FHSAA member private school to participate in interscholastic or intrascholastic activities at the school where the student could choose to attend pursuant to controlled open enrollment provided the public school has not reached capacity as determined by the school board, in addition to the student’s zoned school which is currently permitted by law. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1302 – is similar, has passed one of four committees of reference, and is on the agenda for the Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee today (see below).]
HB 163 – Public Records by Burgess
The bill provides that a court must assess and award the reasonable costs of enforcement, including reasonable attorney fees, against the responsible agency if the court determines that:
- The agency unlawfully refused to permit the public record to be inspected or copied; and
- The complainant provided written notice identifying the public record request to the agency’s custodian of public records at least 5 days before filing the civil action.
The bill requires a court to determine whether a complainant made a public record request or participated in the civil action for an improper purpose. If the court determines there was an improper purpose, the bill prohibits the court from awarding the reasonable costs of enforcement, including attorney fees, to the complainant, and instead requires the court to award against the complainant and to the agency such reasonable costs incurred by the agency in responding to the civil action. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 80 – is similar, has passed the Senate, and has been placed on the House Special Order Calendar along with HB 163. It is likely that both will be taken up today.]
HB 127 – Public School Attendance Policies by Plasencia
- Requires district school boards to adopt student absence policies regarding student appointments to receive autism spectrum disorder therapy, including but not limited to, applied behavioral analysis, speech therapy and occupational therapy;
- Allows a parent to request and be granted permission for a student’s absence resulting from an appointment to receive therapy provided by a licensed health care practitioner or a certified behavior analyst for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder; and
- Allows a student who is continually sick and repeatedly absent to satisfy nonattendance requirement by being under the supervision of a licensed health care practitioner or a certified behavior analyst for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder.
[NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1128 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 1111 – Teacher Certification by Plasencia
The bill revises the requirements for a district professional development certification and educator competence program. The bill:
- Provides that a temporary certificate holder who completes a Florida Department of Education (DOE) approved program and earns a highly effective rating will qualify for a renewable professional certificate without having to complete additional classwork or pass the Professional Education Test.
- Allows charter schools and charter management organizations to offer a professional development certification and educator competence program and requires the mentorship and induction component of the program to, at a minimum, provide weekly opportunities for mentoring and induction activities. The mentorship and induction activities must be provided for a teacher’s first year in the program and may be provided until the teacher attains his or her professional certificate.
- Requires the DOE to adopt standards for approving a professional development certification and educator competence program, including the mentorship and induction component.
- Allows mentoring activities, including serving as a mentor, to count towards a teacher’s inservice requirements for certification renewal.
- Requires professional development activities to provide training to mentors. The training must include components on teacher development, peer coaching, time management, and other related topics as determined by the DOE.
- Requires model professional development programs disseminated by the DOE to include effective mentorship activities to new teachers and training to mentors.
- Streamlines the temporary certificate application process and revises provisions related to the expiration of a temporary certificate.
[NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1474 – is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference. The certification requirements in HB 1111 and SB 1474 are similar to those in HB 1331 and SB 1598.]
The Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee will meet (1:30 – 3:30 pm; 412 KOB) to consider the following items:
SB 468 – Voluntary Prekindergarten Education by Stargel
The bill revises provisions related to the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education (VPK) program and duties of the Just Read! Florida Office (Just Read! Florida). Specifically, the bill:
- Requires the Just Read, Florida! to train Voluntary Prekindergarten through grade 3 teachers, reading coaches, and school principals on effective research-based instructional strategies.
- Requires the Office of Early Learning (OEL) to determine eligibility for enrollment and reenrollment in the school year VPK program.
- Requires each early learning coalition (ELC) to coordinate with the OEL to assign student identification numbers to each student who enrolls in the program.
- Clarifies that the Department of Education (DOE) must adopt a single statewide kindergarten readiness screening that is a direct assessment of early literacy and numeracy skills.
- Requires private prekindergarten providers and public schools in the VPK program to provide parents with the results of the pre- and post- assessment within 10 days after the administering the assessment.
- Requires the results of the pre- and post- assessments to be reported at the aggregate level, distributed to the respective ELCs and school districts, and displayed on the OEL’s website within 30 days after the administration of the assessment.
- Authorizes a child who is at risk of not attaining the performance standards specified in law to reenroll, at the request of the child’s parent, in one of the school-year programs offered by a ovider that has met the adopted minimum readiness rate provided in law for the subsequent year.
- Provides for an appropriation of $10 million dollars from the General Revenue Fund to the DOE for developing training for VPK through grade 3 teachers, reading coaches, and school principals.
The bill appropriates $10 million to DOE for the development and training of VPK through grade 3 teachers, reading coaches and school principals on research-based reading instructional strategies and interventions. [NOTE: this is the second of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 757 – is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
SB 808 – Maximum Class Size by Mayfield
The bill revises the penalty calculation for public schools that fail to meet maximum class size requirements. Specifically, the bill:
- Modifies the penalty for exceeding maximum class size to be calculated at the school-wide average for all public schools, and
- Revises requirements for the compliance plan that noncompliant schools must submit to the Commissioner of Education.
[NOTE: this is the second of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 591 – is similar, has passed all committees of reference, passed the House, and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.]
SB 868 – Educational Options and Services by Baxley
The bill expands educational options and services to prepare students for higher education and entry into the workforce. Specifically, the bill:
- Removes the eligibility criteria for students to participate in virtual instruction programs.
- Removes the requirement that student enrollment in a virtual instruction program be limited to a program provided by a school district or virtual charter school operated by the district in which the student resides.
- Clarifies that students with disabilities must be offered the option to pursue a scholar or merit designation, removes the option for a certificate of completion, and modifies the criteria to document mastery of academic and employment competencies.
- Requires an individualized progress monitoring plan be developed for all students in a juvenile justice education program, including those with disabilities.
- Adds the Chancellor of Career and Adult Education to the Higher Education Coordinating Council.
- Requires that any institution seeking initial or continued approval of a graduate-level teacher education program in a certification area that does not require a graduate degree must provide students the option to complete the initial preparation program at the bachelor’s level.
- Revises the dual enrollment program to clarify the description of career dual enrollment, authorize the Commissioner of Education to establish a statewide articulation agreement for the Florida Virtual School, and expand the rulemaking authority of the State Board of Education to specify rulemaking relating to student eligibility and participation, courses and programs, funding, and articulation agreements.
- Deems participants in on-the-job training activities administered by the Division of Blind Services and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation as employees of the state for purposes of workers’ compensation coverage.
[NOTE: This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. There is not direct House companion bill,]
SB 984 – Shared Use of Public School Playground Facilities by Bean
The bill provides legislative intent to increase the number of school districts that open their playground facilities to community use outside of school hours to improve public access to recreational facilities and reduce the impact of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases on personal health and health care expenditures. Specifically, the bill:
- Establishes a Shared Use Task Force to identify barriers in creating shared use agreements and make recommendations to facilitate the shared use of school facilities generally and in high-need communities, specifies membership of the task force, and requires the task force to submit a report to the Legislature by October 1, 2017.
- Requires the Department of Education (DOE) to provide technical assistance to school districts regarding the shared use of school facilities.
- Specifies additional duties that the DOE must perform with funds as established in the General Appropriations Act.
[NOTE: This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 1131 – is similar, has passed all committees of reference, and is on the House Calendar on 2nd Reading.]
SB 1302 – Private School Student Participation in Extracurricular Activities by Gibson
The bill revises eligibility requirements for certain private school students to participate in interscholastic or intrascholastic sports. Specifically, the bill requires the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), in cooperation with each district school board, to allow a student attending a private school that is not a member of the FHSAA to participate in interscholastic or intrascholastic sports at a public school that a student could choose to attend pursuant to controlled open enrollment. [NOTE: This is the second of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 1109 – is similar, has passed all committees of reference, and is on the House Special Order Calendar today (see above).]
SB 1368 – Exceptional Students by Perry
The bill removes the option for the school district receiving an exceptional student with a disability, who resides in a residential facility, to decline to provide or contract for educational instruction. In addition, the bill:
- Authorizes a parent to request and be granted permission for a student’s absence from school for treatment of autism spectrum disorder by a licensed health care practitioner.
- Requires each district school board to adopt an attendance policy authorizing a student’s absence for treatment of autism spectrum disorder.
- Revises an exemption relating to parental responsibility for nonattendance of a student to include treatment for autism spectrum disorder.
[NOTE: This is the second of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 655 – is comparable, has passed all committees of reference, and is on the House Special Order Calendar today (see above).]
SB 1552 – Florida Best and Brightest Teacher and Principal Scholar Award Program by Simmons The bill provides eligibility criteria for a full-time classroom teacher and a full-time school administrator to qualify for the Award Program scholarship and for a newly hired full-time classroom teacher and full-time school administrator to qualify for a one-time hiring bonus. Specifically, the bill requires that to qualify for the Award Program a teacher or an administrator must:
- Be employed on an annual contract or probationary contract;
- Participate in the school district’s performance salary schedule;
- Meet one of the achievement requirements specified in the bill; and
- Meet one of the performance requirements specified in the bill, which include:
- For existing teachers and administrators, a “highly effective” rating or commitment to working in a low-performing school for 3 years and a “highly effective” rating for 2 out of 3 years.
- For newly hired teachers and administrators, graduation from or completion of a specified undergraduate program with a 3.0 grade point average, and commitment to working for three years in a Florida public school or critical teacher shortage area.
The bill requires the State Board of Education to expeditiously adopt rules to implement the Award Program.
[NOTE: This is the second of four committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion bill but there are several comparable bills.]
SB 1598 – Education / Schools of Excellence by Brandes
The bill establishes the Schools of Excellence Program to provide administrative flexibility to the state’s top schools to enhance student learning. Additionally, the bill:
- Renames the current professional development certification and education competency program as the comprehensive teacher mentorship certification program with some modifications.
- Modifies the School Professional Development Act to include specified training relating to the comprehensive teacher mentorship certification program.
- Authorizes the Department of Corrections to enter into a contract with a charter school authorized to operate pursuant to law to provide education services for the Correctional Education Program.
- Specifies that a county in which a public or private postsecondary institution is located may authorize a public high school educational facility, including a charter school educational facility, which meets statutory requirements, related to educational facilities, to be located on the postsecondary institution’s campus.
[NOTE: This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion – HB 1331 – is comparable, has passed all committees of reference, and is on the House Special Order Calendar today (see above).]