The Constitution Revision Commission Education Committee met this afternoon to consider several important education-related proposals to amend the Florida Constitution, including, among others, proposals relating to school board member salaries, charter school authorizers, and the prohibition against using public revenues in aid of religious entities. As a result of a new procedure for managing the proposals assigned to the CRC Education Committee (described below), formal action was taken on only one proposal today: Proposal 32 – relating to School Board Member Salaries. This proposal FAILED on a vote of 4-3. This outcome is due, in large part, to the emails, phone calls, and testimony of several school board members, superintendents, and others. We are particularly grateful to the following school board members who provided thoughtful and articulate testimony today:
- Kelly Barrera, St. Johns County School Board
- Milton Brown, Washington County School Board
- Chris Cowart, Levy County School Board
- Mark Johnson, Hernando County School Board
- Chris Patricca, Lee County School Board
- Mike Pressley, Glades County School Board
- Rosanne Wood, Leon County School Board
Please click on the link below for more information on the CRC Education Committee meeting and the proposals that were considered today.
The Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) Education Committee met today to consider several proposals to amend the Florida Constitution. At the beginning of the meeting, CRC Education Committee Chair Marva Johnson announced a new procedure for considering the proposals assigned to the CRC Education Committee: Proposals on the agenda would be presented and amended (as needed), Commissioner questions would be addressed, and public testimony would be accepted, but NO VOTE would be taken on approval of each proposal. Instead, each proposal would be Temporarily Postponed until the next Education Committee meeting when formal debate and the vote on passage would occur. The next meeting of the CRC Education Committee is currently scheduled for Friday, January 26, 2018, 1:00 – 6:00 pm.
There were two exceptions to the new procedure outlined above:
- Proposal 32 – relating to school board member salaries – was debated and voted upon at today’s meeting because it had already had been presented in a previous Education Committee meeting.
- Proposal 93 – relating to Charter School Districts — was rescheduled for initial consideration at the next CRC Education Committee meeting.
Proposal 32 – School Board Member Salaries — sponsored by Erika Donalds — FAILED
This proposal revises Article IX, Sections 2, 4, and 7 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would require that members of the state board of education, members of district school boards, members of state university boards of trustees, and members of the board of governors would serve without compensation. The proposal specifies that members of a school board would receive a stipend payment and the reimbursement of travel and per diem expenses in accordance with state law. [NOTE: As originally drafted, this proposal would have eliminated all school board member compensation except for reimbursement for travel and per diem expenses, but the proposal was amended today to authorize a stipend payment. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the proposal as amended. The amended proposal failed on a vote of 4-3 with Commissioners Grady, Keiser, Johnson, and Washington voting NO and Commissioners Donalds, Levesque, and Stewart voting YES (Commissioners Jordan and Sprowls were absent from this meeting). We encourage you to Contact the CRC Education Committee Members who voted NO on this proposal to thank them for their support.]
Proposal 71 – Charter School Authorization — sponsored by Erika Donalds – TEMPORARILY POSTPONED; SCHEDULED FOR FINAL CONSIDERATION ON 1/26/18
This proposal would amend Article IX, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would authorize the Legislature to enact laws providing alternative processes to authorize the establishment of public schools in the state. [NOTE: As originally drafted, this proposal would have allowed alternative processes to authorize the establishment of “charter” schools, but the proposal was amended to authorize the establishment of “public” schools. The short summary above reflects the provisions of the proposal as amended. The amendment was offered by Commissioner Levesque. In response to questions about the intent of this amendment, Commissioner Donalds stated that she did not wish to limit the authority to establish schools to only charter schools.]
Proposal 45 – Public Education — sponsored by Erika Donalds – TEMPORARILY POSTPONED; SCHEDULED FOR FINAL CONSIDERATION ON 1/26/18
This proposal would amend Article IX, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would revise the text of this Article to provide that adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools “allowing the opportunity for each student” (rather than “that allows students”) to obtain a high quality education. In addition, the proposal specifies that no provision in Article IX may be construed to limit the Legislature from making provision for other educational services that benefit the children and families of this state that are in addition to the system of free public schools.
Proposal 89 – Public Education — sponsored by Nicole Washington – TEMPORARILY POSTPONED; SCHEDULED FOR FINAL CONSIDERATION ON 1/26/18
This proposal would amend Article IX, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution. This proposal adds to the existing text of Article IX, Section 1(a) to specify that the purpose and intent of the state’s public education system is to develop the intellect of the state’s citizens, to contribute to the economy, to create an effective workforce, and to prepare students for a job. In addition, the proposal adds Section 1(d) to provide that, in order to build Florida’s talent pipeline for the careers of today and tomorrow and align the state’s education, workforce, and economic development efforts, it is the intent of the people to provide high quality and affordable postsecondary education opportunities.
Proposal 4 – Religious Freedom — sponsored by Roberto Martinez – TEMPORARILY POSTPONED; SCHEDULED FOR FINAL CONSIDERATION ON 1/26/18
This proposal revises Article I, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would remove the existing prohibition against using public revenues in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or any sectarian institution. [NOTE: Article I, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution currently provides: “There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace or safety. No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.” This proposal would delete the last sentence of this section, thus eliminating the prohibition on the use of public revenue in aid of a church, sect, religious denomination, or sectarian institution. This provision is commonly known as the “No Aid Provision” or “Blaine Amendment”. This No Aid Provision was, in part, the basis for the 1st District Court of Appeal to declare the Opportunity Scholarship Program unconstitutional.]
Proposal 93 – Education — sponsored by Roberto Martinez – NOT CONSIDERED; RESCHEDULED FOR INITIAL CONSIDERATION ON 1/26/18
This proposal would amend Article IX, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would authorize the school board of a high performing school district to choose to be designated as a charter district that would be exempt from all provisions of the Florida K-20 Education Code in the same manner as a charter school designated by Florida law. [NOTE: A charter district would remain under the governance of the school board. To qualify, a school district must receive a grade of “B” or better for the last three years and not have had financial resources fall below the state required minimum. To maintain its status as high performing after the initial designation, a school district must maintain a grade of “B” or better for at least two years within a three year period, not fall below a “C” grade, and its financial reserves must not fall below the state required minimum. It is estimated that thirty-eight districts meet district grade requirements in proposal. This proposal essentially re-establishes a program that had been authorized in 1999 that was known as the Charter School Districts Pilot Program.]
The full Meeting Packet for today’s meeting, which includes CRC Staff analyses, filed amendments, and other information, is available HERE. In addition, you may access the video of today’s meeting by clicking on the “Video Archive” link on the Florida Channel. The next round of CRC Committee meetings is scheduled for January 25-26, 2018 with the CRC Education Committee currently scheduled to meet on Friday, January 26, 1:00 – 6:00 pm. For more information, please visit our Florida CRC page on the FSBA website.
Our next issue of the Session Spotlight will provide the schedule of education-related legislative committee meetings and bills that will be considered on Monday, January 22, 2018.