This week marks the mid-point of the Legislative Session and has brought attention to key bills that directly address the priorities identified in the FSBA 2017 Legislative Platform: assessment and accountability, education funding, and capital outlay funding. During this very hectic week, the Senate Education Committee took up SB 926 relating to K-12 Student Assessments and incorporated several amendments that FSBA has championed; the House and Senate Appropriations Committees refined their respective budgets that illustrate, among other things, the level of each chamber’s commitment to prioritize education funding in a manner that is consistent with this paramount duty of the state; and both chambers have forwarded bills – HB 5103 and SB 376 — that address capital outlay funding. While none of these bills currently align perfectly with the FSBA Platform goals, in many respects, great progress has been made and, during the four weeks that remain in this Legislative Session, your advocacy can help shape the final outcome on these, and other, bills of interest.
The Legislature has adjourned for the weekend and for observance of Passover, so there are no meetings scheduled for tomorrow through Tuesday of next week. As a result, our Session Spotlight will not have daily bill reports during this interval but, instead, we will focus on developing more detailed bill analyses and key discussion points on the major bills. As a first step in this process, we have, again, revised our Side-by-Side Comparison of the education related portions of the House and Senate budgets (and thank another sharp-eyed reader who caught a mistake). We also encourage you to review the bills that were under consideration today, including SB 376 relating to Charter School Capital Outlay Funding and HB 7101 relating to K-12 Education that are summarized below in the Today’s Happenings link.
[toggle title=”Today’s Happenings – April 7, 2017“]
In the House Education Committee meeting:
HB 15 — Educational Options by Sullivan – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The bill revises the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program by:
- Increasing the base annual scholarship amount, differentiated by grade level, for students enrolled in eligible private schools;
- Increasing the amount of a transportation scholarship for a student who chooses a public school outside their district from $500 to $750;
- Allowing a dependent child of a parent who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces to apply for a scholarship at any time;
- Authorizing a Scholarship Funding Organization (SFO) to make scholarship payments on behalf of a parent only if the SFO receives prior approval from the parent each time;
- Providing that a private school that has consecutive years of material exceptions listed in their annual financial reports may be ineligible to participate in the FTC;
- Requiring the Department of Revenue (DOR) to provide a copy of a denial letter to the SFO specified by the taxpayer seeking the tax credit;
- Revising the date that a private school’s agreed upon procedures report from a CPA is due to the SFO from September 15, to August 15, of each year; and
- Removing obsolete language regarding student eligibility and funding.
The bill expands access to the Gardiner Scholarship Program (GSP) and strengthens accountability by:
- Expanding student eligibility;
- Expanding the authorized uses of scholarship funds;
- Revising the eligibility requirements of private schools participating in the GSP; and
- Clarifying a student’s eligibility to receive scholarship payments.
[NOTE: Today’s amendments restore provisions relating to the Gardiner Scholarship Program that had previously been removed from the bill and delete a provision authorizing an eligible scholarship funding organizations to develop a professional development system. This short summary reflects these changes. This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion – SB 1314 – is similar and has passed one of four committees of reference.]
HB 127 — Public School Attendance Policies by Plasencia – PASSED; PLACED ON HOUSE CALENDAR ON 2ND READING
The bill revises attendance requirements for students with autism spectrum disorder. The bill:
- 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: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion – SB 1128 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 293 — Middle School Study by Burton – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
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 bill provides a list of topics that must be reviewed in the study and requires that 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 bill also deletes the course in career and education planning that is currently required for middle grades promotion. [NOTE: Today’s amendments added to the general topics that the study must review and repealed a course requirement. This short summary reflects these changes. This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion – SB 360 – is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
HB 371 — Assistive Technology Devices by Ausley – PASSED; PLACED ON HOUSE CALENDAR ON 2ND READING
The bill revises provisions related to the use of an assistive technology device by students with disabilities by:
- Clarifying that access to and use of the assistive technology device is essential for a student moving from school to home and community;
- Specifying an individual work plan as one of the plans that may serve as the basis for issuing an assistive technology device to a student; and
- Requiring the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice, within the Florida Department of Education, to enter into interagency agreements with specified agencies, as appropriate, for the transaction of assistive technology devices.
[NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion – SB 772 – is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
HB 655 — Exceptional Student Instruction by Porter – PASSED; PLACED ON HOUSE CALENDAR ON 2ND READING
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: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion – SB 1368 – is similar and has passed one of four committees of reference.]
HB 833 — Student Eligibility for K-12 Virtual Instruction by Sullivan – PASSED; PLACED ON HOUSE CALENDAR ON 2ND READING
The bill removes the prior year in public school requirement and provides that all K-12 students, including home education and private school students, are eligible for both full-time and part-time virtual instruction options. The bill removes passage of an online content assessment, by which the student demonstrates skills and competency in locating information and applying technology for instructional purposes, as an option to fulfill the online course requirement. The bill also provides a student the option of taking either an online course or a blended learning course to satisfy the requirements for a standard high school diploma. [NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion – SB 692 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 989 — Instructional Materials by Donalds – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
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;
- 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: Today’s amendments provide definitions and revises the eligibility for an individual to serve as an unbiased and qualified hearing officer. This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion – SB 1210 – is comparable and has passed one of two committees of reference.]
HB 1111 — Teacher Certification by Plasencia – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill revises the requirements for a district professional development certification and educator competence program. Under the bill, 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.
The bill 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, including:
- common planning time;
- ongoing professional development targeted to the teacher’s needs;
- opportunities to observe other teachers;
- co-teaching experiences; and
- reflection and follow-up discussions.
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. The bill 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 training must include components on teacher development, peer coaching, time management, and other related topics as determined by the DOE. The bill requires model professional development programs disseminated by the DOE to include effective mentorship activities to new teachers and training to mentors.
In addition, the bill requires DOE to notify an individual, at least 1 year before their temporary certificate is set to expire, of the date on which his or her certificate will expire and provide a list of each method by which the qualifications for a professional certificate can be completed. The bill also allows DOE to extend the validity period of a temporary certificate or for 1 year if the temporary certificate holder is rated effective or highly effective based solely on a learning growth formula approved by the Commissioner of Education. The bill also streamlines the temporary certificate application process. [NOTE: Today’s amendment revised provisions related to a temporary certificate. This short summary reflects today’s changes. This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion – SB 1474 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 1131 — Shared Use of Public School Playground Facilities by Drake – PASSED; PLACED ON CALENDAR ON 2ND READING
The bill requires the DOE to provide technical assistance to school districts to promote community use of shared facilities. The bill also creates a Shared Use Task Force to identify barriers in creating shared use agreements and to make recommendations to facilitate the shared use of school facilities generally and in high-need communities. [NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion – SB 984 – is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
HB 1331 – Education/Schools of Excellence/Certification by Grall – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill establishes the Schools of Excellence Program to provide administrative flexibility to the state’s highest performing schools. 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 includes several provisions relating to certification. Under the bill, 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. In addition, the bill requires DOE to notify an individual, at least 1 year before their temporary certificate is set to expire, of the date on which his or her certificate will expire and provide a list of each method by which the qualifications for a professional certificate can be completed. The bill also allows DOE to extend the validity period of a temporary certificate or for 1 year if the temporary certificate holder is rated effective or highly effective based solely on a learning growth formula approved by the Commissioner of Education.
The bill 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 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. In addition, the bill 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. [NOTE: Today’s amendments added provisions relating to certification. This short summary reflects the changes made today. This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 1598 – is comparable and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
HB 7057 — Civic Literacy by PreK-12 Quality – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
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;
- 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);
- Requiring 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 History or American Government to include civic literacy; and
- establish competencies and identify outcomes for the course;
- 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.
[NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 1710 – is similar and has passed one of four committees of reference.]
HB 7101 — K-12 Education by PreK-12 Innovation – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill makes several revisions to current policies relating to charter schools. The bill:
- Requires the sponsor and the charter school governing board to use the standard charter contract developed by DOE which incorporates the approved application and any addenda approved with the application and provides that any term or condition of a proposed contract that differs from the standard contract shall be presumed a limitation on charter school flexibility;
- Provides 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;
- Removes the provision that charter school student performance on statewide standardized assessments and other performance data be compared to student performance data of traditional public schools;
- Provides that student performance data a high school student who transfers to a private school with which the school district has a contractual agreement shall be included in the high school graduation rate;
- Allows the use of concordant scores, in addition to assessment scores or comparable scores, in determining an alternative school’s school improvement rating;
- Deletes the list of specific services that 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;
- Specifies that a not-for-profit or municipal entity operating a charter school may use unrestricted surplus or net assets of their charter school(s) for K-12 educational purposes in their other schools;
- Clarifies 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;
- 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;
- Revises the definition of a “charter school system” with regard to LEA eligibility status by removing the requirements that a system of charter schools include both conversion and non-conversion charter schools and the provision that the system does not contract with a for-profit service provider for management of school operations and adding the requirement that the governing board accept full responsibility for all LEA requirements;
- Beginning in 2018, changes the charter school application deadline from August 1 to February 1;
- Provides that a charter school may be exempt from controlled open enrollment provisions under certain circumstances;
- Deletes language regarding federal funds that conflicts with federal requirements for distribution of such funds;
- With regard to federal Title I funds, the bill:
- Requires school districts to provide Title I funds directly to all eligible schools, including eligible charter schools;
- Specifies that the threshold for identifying eligible schools shall not exceed the statewide percentage of economically disadvantaged students.
- Limits the amount and purposes for which a school district may withhold Title I funds
- Provides that all remaining Title I funds must be distributed to all eligible schools in accordance with federal law and regulation
- Provides that an eligible school may use funds to participate in discretionary educational services provided by the school district
- Removes the requirement that the online learning portion of a blended learning model be in a classroom setting at the charter school and aligns eligibility requirements;
- 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 bill was previously amended to remove provisions that would require school districts to share discretionary millage with charter schools-in-a-municipality and provisions that would have deleted the requirement that a charter school have satisfactory student achievement to be eligible for charter school capital outlay funding. Today’s amendments revised the charter school application deadline, removed a provision stating that the standard contract cannot be altered in any way, revised student eligibility requirements with regard to controlled open enrollment; revised provisions relating to charter school LEA status, revised blended learning requirements, provided a technical correction regarding the ACT, revised provisions relating to calculation of graduation rates, and revised provisions relating to the distribution of Title I funding. Many of these amendments the result of district lobbyists working with the sponsor and represent improvements. However, the new provisions relating to Title I funding have raised significant concerns. There was some recognition by the Committee members that this amendment may need more work. This is the last committee of reference for this bill. There is no direct Senate companion bill.]
In the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting:
SB 374 – Postsecondary Education by Hukill – AMENDED; PASSED; PLACED ON SENATE SPECIAL ORDER CALENDAR FOR 4/12/17
The bill creates the “College Competitiveness Act of 2017” which restructures the governance of the Florida College System and modifies the mission of the system and its institutions. Specifically, the bill:
- Strengthens public college-to-university articulation by establishing the “2+2” targeted pathway program to provide to students guaranteed access to baccalaureate degree programs at state universities.
- Modifies the governance of the Florida Community College System (FCCS) by:
- Renaming the Florida College System as the FCCS, and
- Establishing a State Board of Community Colleges (SBCC), and transferring responsibilities regarding Florida’s community colleges from the State Board of Education (SBE) to the SBCC.
- Clarifies expectations and state oversight of baccalaureate degree programs offered by FCCS institutions, and:
- Aligns the baccalaureate approval process for St. Petersburg College with the approval process for other FCCS institutions.
- Establishes a cap on upper-level, undergraduate full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment at Florida’s community colleges, but provides flexibility for planned and purposeful growth of baccalaureate degree programs if certain conditions are met.
- Clarifies the K-20 education system mission by emphasizing the mission must be to avoid wasteful duplication of programs, and reinforces the distinct mission of Florida’s community colleges and technical centers in meeting Florida’s labor market demands and regional needs.
- Provides that a district school board in which a public or private postsecondary institution is located may authorize a public high school educational facility, including a charter school educational facility, to be located on the postsecondary institution’s campus.
[NOTE: The Committee took up a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) and then further amended it. The short summary above reflects these changes. This bill is one component (along with SB 2) of the Senate’s post-secondary education reform package. This was the last committee of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 929 – is comparable and has passed one of three committees of reference.
SB 376 – Charter School Capital Outlay Funding by Simmons – PASSED; PLACED ON SENATE SPECIAL ORDER CALENDAR FOR 4/12/17
The bill restructures charter school capital outlay to dedicate a source of funding consisting of shared local capital outlay funding derived from the discretionary millage revenue. The bill allows the legislature the discretion to determine whether to provide additional charter school capital outlay funds in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The bill amends eligibility requirements and the funding allocation methodology for charter school capital outlay funding. The bill provides that the eligibility criteria for shared local capital outlay allocation is the same as that in existing law for state funds provided in the GAA. However, the bill adds a new eligibility requirement (for both shared local capital outlay and for state funds provided in the GAA) consisting of a prohibition on personal financial enrichment. The bill provides that it is the intent of the Legislature that the public interest be protected by prohibiting personal financial enrichment by owners, operators, managers, and other affiliated parties of charter schools. Additionally, the bill emphasizes that a charter school is not eligible for a funding allocation unless the chair of the governing board and chief administrative officer of the charter school annually certify under oath that the funds will be used solely and exclusively for constructing, renovating, or improving charter school facilities that are:
Owned by a school district, political subdivision of the state, municipality, Florida College System institution, or state university;
Owned by an organization, qualified as an exempt organization under s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, whose articles of incorporation specify that upon the organization’s dissolution, the subject property will be transferred to a school district, political subdivision of the state, municipality, Florida College System institution, or state university; or
Owned by and leased, at a fair market value in the school district in which the charter school is located, from a person or entity that is not an affiliated party of the charter school.
The bill defines “affiliated party of the charter school” to mean:
- The applicant for the charter school;
- The governing board of the charter school or a member of the governing board;
- The charter school owner; The charter school principal;
- An employee of the charter school;
- An independent contractor of a charter school or charter school governing board;
- A subsidiary corporation, a service corporation, and affiliated corporation, a parent corporation, a limited liability company, a limited partnership, a trust, a partnership, or a related party that, individually or through one or more entities shares common ownership or control and directly or indirectly manages, administers, controls, or oversees the operation of the charter school; or
- Any person or entity, individually or through one or more entities that share common ownership, which directly or indirectly manages, administers, controls, or oversees the operation of any of the foregoing.
The bill provides that the DOE must calculate the shared local capital outlay allocation by dividing the revenue generated from the local discretionary millage and levied by the school board by the sum of the district fixed capital outlay FTE and the FTE for eligible charter schools. This calculated capital outlay allocation per FTE must then be multiplied by the eligible charter school’s FTE to provide a maximum calculated capital outlay allocation.
The bill provides that the eligibility criteria for shared local capital outlay allocation is identical to that in existing law for state funds provided in the GAA. The bill also codifies existing DOE implementation for determining a charter school’s eligible population for free or reduced-price lunch by adding an equivalent percentage of students that are eligible under the Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The bill provides that the allocation formula for the shared local capital outlay allocation utilize a weighted funding approach to provide additional funds to charter schools who serve high proportions of students eligible for free and reduced price lunch or students with disabilities, or both. More specifically:
- An eligible charter school will receive a base allocation of 50% of the maximum calculated capital outlay allocation.
- Charter schools will receive an additional 25% of the maximum allocation if the school has either of the following criteria:
- A 75% or more free or reduced-price lunch eligible enrollment or an equivalent percentage who are eligible under the Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 when the multiplier authorized under the National School Lunch Act is applied to the number of students reported for direct certification; or
- A 25% or greater population of students with a disability.
- Charter schools that that meet both criteria would receive an additional 50% of the maximum allocation (the maximum calculated capital outlay allocation).
The bill requires each school district to distribute 1/12th of the calculated shared local capital outlay funds to eligible charter schools on a monthly basis, beginning in the first quarter of the fiscal year. If local funds are not available, the school district must provide an equivalent amount from another funding source. If the school district is unable to provide the calculated local funds from its millage, the school district must provide an equivalent amount to the eligible charter schools from another school district funding source. Each district must adjust payments to charter schools to reflect updated calculations of the shared local charter school allocations, as determined by the Department of Education (DOE). The bill limits the ability of a charter school governing board to only use charter school capital outlay funds at the charter school that generated the funding. [NOTE: There was extensive discussion today of the several concerns that have been expressed about this bill. Senator Simmons acknowledged the difficulties that may arise, particularly with regard to district budgets and debt service obligations, absent any increase in district school board capital outlay millage authority. Senator Simmons stressed that he would continue to work to resolve these issues through budget negotiations. This was the last committee of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 5103 — is comparable and is on the House Calendar on 2nd Reading.]
In the House Government Accountability Committee meeting:
HB 163 – Public Records by Burgess — PASSED
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.
However, the complainant is not required to provide written notice of the public record request, as required above, if the agency does not prominently post the contact information for the agency’s custodian of public records in the agency’s primary administrative building in which public records are routinely created, sent, received, maintained, and requested and on the agency’s website, if the agency has a website. 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: This was the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 80 — is similar, has passed the Senate comparable and is in Messages to the House.]
HB 1239 – School Bus Safety by Eagle — PASSED
The bill creates the Cameron Mayhew Act, providing that in addition to any other civil, criminal, or administrative penalty, a person who fails to stop for a school bus causing or resulting in the serious bodily injury or death of another person is required to:
- Serve 120 hours of community service in a trauma center or hospital.
- Participate in a victim’s impact panel session in a judicial circuit or attend a driver improvement course approved by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles relating to the rights of vulnerable road users relative to vehicles on the roadway.
The bill provides for a fine of $1,500 and a one-year driver license suspension for failing to stop for a school bus resulting in the serious bodily injury or death of another. [NOTE: This was the last committee of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 1622 — is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
In the Senate Rules Committee meeting:
SB 438 – Out-of-School Suspension by Baxley — PASSED
The bill revises parents’ rights and school district duties regarding the suspension of public school students. Specifically, the bill:
- Grants parents the right to give public testimony at a district school board meeting during which the board reviews its out-of-school suspension rules;
- Requires a district school board to review, once every 3 years, its rules authorizing out-of-school suspension during a district school board meeting; and
- Specifies that a district school board’s rules authorizing out-of-school suspension expire if the board does not conduct its review of these rules in accordance with the law.
[NOTE: This is the last committee of reference for this bill. There is no House companion bill.]