Gov. DeSantis Proposed Budget Implementing Bill here. Important: Here is where the “Equal Opportunity Voucher” is first mentioned, it is later called the “Family Empowerment Scholarship/Voucher.” This voucher is radical because the Governor seeks to fund it through the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) through our property taxes instead of a diverted revenue scheme (Corporate Tax Credit) or alternative tax route (Automotive Sales – Hope/Bully voucher). This is a significant step toward Education Savings Accounts otherwise known as Universal Vouchers, which were defeated as unconstitutional in the Bush v. Holmes suit. Note: Opportunity Zones will significantly expand Schools of Hope range for development within districts.
Train Bill SPB 7070
SPB 7070 for Consideration by Education. K-12 Education: Deleting the authorization for a traditional public school to receive funds from the Schools of Hope Program; establishing the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program; requiring school districts, upon the request of the department, to provide statewide assessments and related materials to certain private schools; requiring that program funds for students entering a Department of Juvenile Justice commitment program be transferred from the school district in which the student last attended school before commitment, etc. Note: Contains most of the “Senate Priorities.” Read bill here.
- Family Empowerment Scholarship
- Recruitment, Retention, and Recognition Bonuses for Teachers and Principals
- Remove Barriers to the Teacher Certification Process
- Reduce Regulations that Impede School Construction and Facility Improvements
- Enhance Support for Community Wrap-Around Services
SPB 7070 TRAIN: Family Empowerment Scholarship – Senate Priorities Press Conference Joined by families whose students are benefitting from school choice options available through the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship, Senators announced plans to file legislation creating a new scholarship program, the Family Empowerment Scholarship, designed to help our low income families attend an eligible private school of choice and reduce the FTC Scholarship waitlist. The Family Empowerment Scholarship will be available to low income families (up to 260 percent of the federal poverty level) and will require that the student have previously attended a traditional public school or be eligible to enroll in kindergarten. The scholarship will be funded through the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) at 95 percent of the district average cost per student and capped at 15,000 students statewide, with the ability to grow as the overall public school student population grows.
SPB 7070 TRAIN: Recruitment, Retention, and Recognition Bonuses for Teachers and Principals – Senate Priorities Plans to file legislation to restructure the current Best and Brightest Teacher’s Program, eliminating SAT/ACT requirements, and instead focusing on recruitment, retention, and recognition of Florida’s top teachers and principals. Specifically, the legislation will create a new recruitment bonus, a one-time award for newly hired teachers who are content expert in mathematics, science, computer science, reading, or civics. Legislation will also create a retention bonus for effective or highly effective teachers at schools that have demonstrated academic improvement, as well as a recognition bonus for highly effective teachers selected by the school principal, based on performance criteria and policies adopted by the district school board. The legislation will also retool the principal bonus around performance of schools demonstrating academic improvement.
SPB 7070 TRAIN: Remove Barriers to the Teacher Certification Process – Senate Priorities Senate legislation will expand access to teacher certification exams and increase options for school districts to retain quality teachers. Specifically, to address concerns with the cost of certification exams, legislation will require the State Board of Education to establish examination fees for initial and retake registrations and specify requirements to reduce retake fees. The legislation will also provide flexibility for teachers to meet the requirement to demonstrate mastery of general knowledge.
SPB 7070 TRAIN: Reduce Regulations that Impede School Construction and Facility Improvements – Senate Priorities Senate legislation will also provide school districts with flexibility by no longer requiring an educational plant survey recommendation when only local funds, including ad valorem revenue, are used for facility construction. The legislation will also remove cost per student station restrictions when the school district uses only local funds for construction.
SPB 7070 TRAIN: Enhance Support for Community Wrap-Around Services – Senate Priorities The legislation will also stabilize state support of neighborhood public schools with unique community needs. Leveraging the successful leadership of the Center for Community Schools, legislation will promote the expansion of, and encourage funding for, new Community Schools. Additionally, the legislation will secure Florida’s investment in the success of public schools in, or exiting, district-managed turnaround status through sustained support for wrap-around services such as after-school programs, extended school day or school year, counseling, or other support services.