This issue of the Session Spotlight provides highlights of events during the past week including activities and meetings during Legislative Interim Committee Meeting Week 2, information about the online Review of the Report of the Marjory Stoneman Douglass Public Safety Commission conducted by Commission member and Citrus County School Board member Doug Dodd, and other news. In addition to the reports below, you may also wish to view the FSBA Weekly Video featuring Andrea Messina recapping events this week. The video is posted on the FSBA website and may be accessed HERE.
The main event last week was the inauguration of Florida’s 40th governor, Ron DeSantis. In his inaugural address, Governor DeSantis focused on Florida’s economic prosperity, environmental issues, health care, and education. With specific regard to education, the Governor called for a greater emphasis on vocational and technical training, including training in computer science and technology. He also called for greater parent empowerment to choose the best possible school for their children and for a rediscovery of the value of civics education that provides students with the knowledge needed for carry out the duties of citizenship. (You may view the inauguration ceremony on the Florida Channel by clicking HERE — Governor DeSantis’ comments being at about 1:01:00.) After the inaugural day activities, Governor DeSantis embarked on what many have characterized as an extraordinarily busy first week in office that included, among other things, visiting the area most severely impacted by Hurricane Michael, appointing the first of three new justices to the Florida Supreme Court, instituting environmental reforms, and imposing accountability measures on local government officials.
The Legislature also conducted the second week of Interim Committee meetings in preparation for the 2019 Legislative Session. Of particular note:
- The Senate Education Committee had an update on School Safety and Security Issues that included commentary from district superintendents — Jackie Byrd from Polk and Ted Roush from Suwannee — and a presentation by the Executive Director of FDOE’s Office of Safe Schools, Damien Kelly. Director Kelly’s presentation provided a wealth of useful information and is included in the Committee Meeting Packet available HERE. The Education Committee chair, Manny Diaz indicated that the Legislature will need to make some adjustments to the law (SB 7026) to better align with district operations, ensure district accountability, and improve student safety.
- The House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee had presentations of early learning and on state scholarship programs. The subcommittee Meeting Packet is available HERE.
- The House Appropriations Committee had a presentation on Florida’s Long Range Financial Outlook by Amy Baker, Coordinator of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research. The presentation outlines the revenues that are needed to maintain critical state programs and services, shows that there is only a modest amount of funding to direct to any new program initiatives, and predicts that, although on fairly firm ground for 2019-2010, the state may be heading into another recession. The very informative Committee Meeting Packet is available HERE.
There were several other committee/subcommittee meetings last week. For more information and links, please see our Interim Committee Meeting schedule for January 7-11, 2019 in the “Legislative Committee Meeting Schedules & Information” file on our 2019 Legislative Session page. Also available on this 2019 Legislative Session page is our “Education Legislation Materials” file where you may access the FSBA Bill Tracking List that includes links and information on more than 50 education related bills that have been filed for consideration in the 2019 Session.
The next round of Legislative Interim Committee Meetings will be held January 22-25, 2019. We will provide a schedule of relevant meetings on our website. Watch our weekly Newsletter for more information.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission was created in SB 7026 and tasked to investigate the tragic school shooting that occurred on February 14, 2018 and to develop recommendations for improvement in school safety and mental health services. Citrus County School Board Member Douglas Dodd was appointed to serve on the Commission and, last week, he hosted an online discussion of the Commission’s Initial Report. The online meeting featured links to photos and video clips of the Commission meetings and highlighted several of the Commission’s recommendations. The recording of the meeting is now available on the FSBA website in the “School Safety & Mental Health Resources” file on our Health and Safety page. For your convenience, you may also access it by clicking HERE.
In related federal action, in March 2018, President Trump established the Federal Commission on School Safety. The Commission was charged with providing meaningful and actionable recommendations to keep students safe at school. The Commission’s Final Report was released in December and is also available on the Health & Safety page. For your convenience, you may also access it HERE.
Before leaving the governor’s office to be sworn in as Florida’s newest U.S. Senator, Rick Scott made a series of last minute appointments including appointing Andrew Pollack to the state Board of Education, replacing Gary Chartrand. Mr. Pollack is the father of Meadow Pollack who was one of the victims of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February. Since that tragedy, Mr. Pollack has been a fervent school safety activist.
Mr. Pollack is scheduled to participate in the next meeting of the State Board scheduled for January 16, 2018 in Pensacola, starting at 9:00 a.m. (CT). The agenda for that meeting includes, among other things, approval of entities that may serve as Scholarship Funding Organizations. You may access the agenda for that meeting HERE.