As we all struggle to cope with and respond to the tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School yesterday, Senate leaders have stepped up their plans to pursue funding for expanded mental health services and to “harden” schools for better security. In a press conference this afternoon, Senate President Negron outlined these plans and, in response to press questions, expanded on his priorities to ensure that our schools continue to be safe and secure. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of legislators in the House have appealed to House Speaker Corcoran to match the Senate’s proposed funding in these areas. In addition, FSBA has begun to assemble resources that school districts may wish to review to ensure that local policies are as comprehensive as possible – please see our Health & Safety page on the FSBA website for information and news reports on these topics.
Please click on the first link below for our report on the bills that were considered today including, among others, bills relating to school board member term limits, instructional materials, and student safety. There are no committees meetings or bills of interest scheduled tomorrow, Friday, so our next issue of the Session Spotlight will be available next week.
[toggle title=”Today’s Happenings – February 15, 2018“]
In the House Education Committee meeting:
HJR 1031 – Limitation of Terms/School Board Members by Fischer – PASSED; PLACED ON HOUSE CALENDAR ON 2ND READING
The joint resolution proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution that, if approved by the voters at the general election in November 2018, prohibits a district school board member from appearing on a ballot for reelection if, by the end of their current term of office, the member will have served, or but for resignation would have served, in that office for eight consecutive years. The proposed limitation would only apply to terms of office that begin after November 6, 2018. A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the State Constitution must be passed by three-fifths of the membership of each house of the Legislature. [NOTE: This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SJR 194 – is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
HB 1035 – Personalized Education by Sullivan – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
- Renames the Competency-Based Education Pilot Program to the Mastery-Based Education Pilot Program.
- Allows any district in the state to submit an application to DOE to participate.
- Authorizes districts participating in the pilot program to use an alternative interpretation of letter grades to measure student success in grades 6-12. The alternate system must meet specific requirements and be approved by the district school board.
- Allows districts to determine and award one full credit toward high school graduation based on the student’s mastery of core content and skills without meeting the current minimum requirement of 135 or 120 hours of bona fide instruction to award one full credit.
- Requires the statewide articulation agreement to ensure fair and equitable access for high school graduates with mastery-based, nontraditional diplomas and transcripts.
- Revises the allowable uses of Gardiner Scholarship Program funds to include:
- Tuition and fees for part-time tutoring by a person who has a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree in the subject area in which instruction is given.
- Tuition or fees associated with enrollment in a nationally or internationally recognized research-based training program for a child with a neurological disorder or brain damage
The bill also establishes Reading Scholarship accounts to provide educational options for students. The scholarship are contingent upon available funds on a first-come, first-served basis. Scholarships are available to students in grades 3-5 who are enrolled in a Florida public school and who scored below a Level 3 on the grade 3 or grade 4 English Language Arts (ELA) assessment in the prior school year. An eligible student who is classified as an English Learner and is enrolled in a program or receiving services that are specifically designed to meet the instructional needs of English Learner students shall receive priority. For an eligible student to receive a reading scholarship account, the student’s parent must:
- Submit an application to an eligible scholarship-funding organization (SFO); and
- Submit eligible expenses to the SFO for reimbursement of qualifying expenditures which may include instructional materials, curriculum, tuition and fees for tutoring, and summer and/or after-school education programs.
The bill specifies responsibilities for the SFO, DOE, and school district. For the 2018-2019 school year, the scholarship amount is set at $500 per eligible student and, thereafter, the amount will be provided in the General Appropriations Act. Contingent on HB 7055 NOT becoming law, the bill appropriates $9,700,000 to fund reading scholarship accounts and $300,000 for administrative fees. [NOTE: Today’s amendment revises eligible expenditures for the Gardiner Scholarship Program, establishes reading scholarship accounts, and provides an appropriation. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 968 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 1091 – Early Learning by Grall – PASSED; PLACED ON HOUSE CALENDAR ON 2ND READING
The bill revises provisions related to the School Readiness program by:
- Expanding the definition of “at-risk” for eligibility purposes;
- Requiring the Office of Early Learning (OEL) to identify observation-based child assessments;
- Requiring OEL to adopt program assessment requirements that measure teacher-child interactions;
- Requiring OEL to revise the statewide provider contract to include contracted slots and quality improvement strategies, if applicable, and program assessment requirements;
- Establishing a payment differential of up to 15 percent based on program assessment results with no more than 5% of the 15% allocated based on submission of data by providers that implement an observation-based child assessment identified by OEL;
- Modifying the required functionality of the single statewide information system;
- Requiring OEL’s annual report to include certain program assessment information;
- Requiring ELCs to establish local eligibility priorities and include them in their biennial School Readiness plans;
- Requiring an ELC’s biennial plan to include procedures for the use of contracted slots, a description of quality improvement strategies, and the results of a community needs assessment;
- Requiring School Readiness providers to participate in a program assessment; and
- Allowing the award of grants and financial supports to providers and instructors to meet program assessment requirements.
- Appropriates $6 million to the OEL to implement the program assessment.
[NOTE: This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 1254 – is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 827 – Instructional Materials by Donalds – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill revises provisions relating to instructional materials, assessments, professional development, and dual enrollment. With regard to instructional materials, the bill:
- Expands upon opportunities for public involvement in the adoption of instructional materials by requiring the Department of Education (DOE) to conduct a public workshop on instructional materials before the materials are included on the state adoption list;
- Provides that instructional materials recommended for adoption may be more rigorous than the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS), so long as they are aligned with the NGSSS;
- Revises requirements for the state instructional materials reviewer affidavit;
- Provides that if the Commissioner of Education finds that instructional materials fully meet or are more rigorous than the NGSSS, the materials adopted after July 1, 2018 are not subject to preadoption public review procedures by the local school district unless a district school board member has evidence that the instructional materials do not meet the criteria and standards set forth in the bill;
- Requires the State Board of Education and each district school board with an instructional materials program to establish a process by which members of the public can recommend instructional materials for consideration by instructional materials reviewers;
- Specifies that recommended instructional materials must be content rich and age appropriate; and
- Requires that instructional materials purchased using instructional material allocation funds to include professional development and ancillary materials to support high-quality, accurate instruction.
With regard to the statewide assessment program, the bill:
- Specifies that assessments must be published in a format that facilitates sharing of assessment items;
- Requires all statewide, standardized English Language Arts (ELA) and math assessments in grades 7 and 8 to be paper-based by the 2019-2020 school year; and
- Requires that reading passages and writing prompts used in state ELA assessments incorporate grade-level social studies core curricular content.
With regard to professional development and curriculum, the bill:
- Requires the DOE to develop and disseminate sample course-at-a-glance and unit overview templates that school districts may use when developing curricula.
With regard to dual enrollment, the bill:
- Provides that a home education student participating in a dual enrollment program is not responsible for providing his or her own instructional materials;
- Revises requirements for articulation agreements between public postsecondary institutions and home education students and private schools; and
- Specifies that only public postsecondary institutions must enter into articulation agreements with home education students and private schools.
[NOTE: The Committee took up and passed a Proposed Committee Substitute for the bill and then further amended it. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 1644 – is comparable and has passed one of two committees of reference.]
In the House Judiciary Committee meeting:
HB 515 – Offenses Against Students by Authority Figures by White – AMENDED; PASSED WITH A CS
The bill makes it a second-degree felony for an authority figure to solicit or engage in sexual or lewd conduct with a student enrolled at a school, regardless of the student’s age. The bill defines:
- “Authority figure” as a person 18 years of age or older who is employed by, volunteering at, or under contract with a school, including school resource officers.
- “School” as a private school, a voluntary prekindergarten education program, early learning program, a public school, the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, the and the Florida Virtual School.
- “Student” as a person who is enrolled at a school.
In addition, the bill amends the definition of school in the trespass on school grounds statute to include a school bus. This amendment allows law enforcement to arrest someone for trespassing on a school bus, after the commission of the crime and without a warrant, if the officer had probable cause to believe the person committed the offense. [NOTE: Today’s amendment removed from the list of prohibited conduct between an authority figure and a student a relationship of a romantic nature. The amendment also made prohibited conduct by an authority figure inapplicable to a student participating in a dual enrollment program. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the bill as amended. This was the third of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill — SB 736 – is similar but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]