Week 3 Brings Wins for FCSBM in 2017 Legislative Session!


Florida Coalition of School Board Members had a great week in Tallahassee. On Monday FCSBM’s own past president, Erika Donalds, was sworn into the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) as the only sitting School Board Member.



We also saw three of our top legislative topics for the 2017 session realize wins: Testing Reform, Religious Liberty Act, and Use of Schoolwide Average in Calculating Class Size.

Testing Reform: HB549- Testing Transparency (Fine) passed out of its first committee and the companion SB906 (Steube) was heard in the Senate Education Committee Workshop along with SB926 (Flores)

House: HB549 Video- FCSBM testimony begins at 4:30

Senate: SB 926 by Flores—K-12 Student Assessments (Video Link 1:12:30 ) Shawn Frost Spoke in Support 1:15:45

Religious Liberty Act: Cleared the Florida Senate Floor SB436 and HB303 Passed unanimously out of its final committee (House Education).

Meeting Video: Found Here- FCSBM Testimony begins at 35:15

Use of School-wide Average in Calculating Class Size:

House: HB591 (Massullo) passed TWO committee stops this week the Prek-12 Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Education Committee-

(Massullo) Shawn Frost Spoke in Support (Video Testimony at 1:08)

Senate: SB808 (Mayfield) had its first of four committee stops where it passed unanimously. FCSBM waived in support.

Other FCSBM supported bills moving:

HB827 -Teacher Bonuses

HB373- Education (automatic contract renewal- tenure lite)


Full list of bills, meeting packet and video links below--

Read more

Day 2 - 2017 Legislative Session


Day Two of the 2017 Legislative Session March 8, 2017


In the 9:30AM Florida Senate Prek-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee


FCSBM Past President, and Legislative Task Force Chair, Erika Donalds (Collier) was on hand for one of our top priorities: Charter Capital Outlay Funding (SB376, Simmons) to express SUPPORT today in Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee. We support SB 376 without the 2.0 mill property tax increase proposed in Sen Farmer’s Amendment. We are pleased to see the bill reported favorably without the automatic 33% property tax on hard working families. We thank the Sponsor, Chair Simmons, for recognizing the need for equality in education funding. All local public schools should be funded with local dollars, including public charter schools.


MEETING VIDEO: Erika Donalds appears at 53:34 min mark

SB376 Passed WITHOUT the 2.0 mill increase – Exactly as supported by FCSBM bringing our 2017 session record to 5 out of 5.

SB78 Mandatory Recess (Flores) easily cleared another committee stop UNANIMOUSLY. There is nothing this session closer to a “done deal” than this recess bill. Districts should prepare.  

There was a workshop on Best and Brightest, which is being widely expanded to include administrators. Stay tuned for the bills on this topic.


In the 12:00PM Prek-12 House Education Appropriations Subcommittee

Important comments by the Chair Manny Diaz Jr. Reminding records that even if bills are reported favorably today, they may go unfunded. It is, however, a stipulation of the new Joint Rule with the Senate that a Bill MUST be heard in either the House or the Senate for it to be funded during the budget conference. There will be no “midnight funding” or slipping things in at the last minute that Members have never seen.

All funding project bills were reported favorably out of their first committee stop.

Meeting Packet: LINK HERE

Meeting Video: VIEW ONLINE


In the 3:30- 6:00PM House Committee on Ways and Means

Similar to HB139 Taxing Referendums

The bill prohibits a municipality or county from enacting, extending or increasing local option taxes other than property taxes, if the municipality or county had adopted a millage rate in excess of its rolled-back rate (with certain specified exceptions) in any of the three previous years. The bill does not apply this prohibition to school districts. However, the bill does amend the process for approval of a school capital outlay discretionary sales surtax. Under current law, in order to levy a school capital outlay discretionary sales surtax, the school board must approve a resolution, by majority vote, to place the question on the ballot for voter approval. The bill requires that the resolution be approved by a 4/5 majority of the school board.

Bill Text: PCB WMC 17-02

Staff Analysis: pcb02.WMC (Analysis)




Opening Day 2017 Session- 4 Bills Moving!


FCSBM Past President, and Legislative Task Force Chair, Erika Donalds was on hand in the Florida House Prek-12 Education Innovation Subcommittee and the House Prek-12 Education Quality Subcommittee for Opening Day of the Florida Legislature.

In the 4:00PM Prek-12 Education Innovation Subcommittee

Board Member Donalds provided testimony in support of

  • HB833 Student Eligibility for K-12 Virtual Instruction- Testimony at time mark 23:14 of the video


We also waived our speaking time in support of:

  • HB 15 Sullivan ; Fischer ; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Leek ; Ponder Continued expansion of parental choice options: Gardiner/ McKay / SFUS
  • Teacher Annual Contract Extension Prohibition (HB373/SB85Grant/Broxson)


All three bills were reported favorably out of their first committee stop.

Meeting Packet: LINK HERE

Meeting Video: VIEW ONLINE Here: (note there were some issues with the audio for the first 12 minutes or so):


In the 4:00PM Prek-12 Education Quality Subcommittee

PCB PKQ 17-01 -- Civic Literacy by Chair Rayburn BILL HERE FCSBM Waived time in SUPPORT. It was reported favorably after a vote.

Meeting Packet: DOWNLOAD HERE



FCSBM is off to another great start with 100% of the bills up today moving. Stay tuned for updates. 

Tomorrow one of our top priorities: Charter Capital Outlay Funding (SB376, Simmons) SUPPORT is up tomorrow in Senate Education Appropriations. We support SB 376 without the 2.0 mill property tax increase. MEETING PACKET 


Congratulations Secretary Besty DeVos!


Statement Regarding Confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education

February 7, 2017

As the President of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members, I am thrilled to see Betsy DeVos confirmed as Secretary of Education. But most importantly, today: Parents won, Teachers won, Local School Boards won, and decisively, STUDENTS WON.

We applaud Mrs. DeVos in her commitment to placing the family, and specifically, parents, firmly in the driver’s seat regarding education decisions for their children. School Choice equals Family Empowerment. Today, Parents and Families won an advocate for their right to decide what is best for their child.

As control is pushed back to the local level, School Boards will find it easier to drive those same liberties back into the classrooms, so that teachers can get back to doing what they do best: teach. Today, School Boards won the power to govern effectively and Teachers won the freedom to teach.

We were troubled to see big money, special interest groups and teachers unions working so vehemently push the status quo ahead of student success. For too long, we’ve had an education establishment built around the selfish needs of adults that has produced a generation in which only 37% are college ready. Today, the underperforming monopoly of the status quo and its guardians LOST.

Mrs. DeVos plans to devolve power back down to the state and local level, so that instead of a Federal “one-size-fits-all” set of standards and curriculum, we will have custom learning plans to meet the unique needs and God given gifts of each individual child. Today STUDENTS won the opportunity to excel.

When we began this revolution in 2014, we knew we needed to get the RIGHT people elected to the school boards and provide them with a like-minded network in the Florida Coalition of School Board Members. We quickly grew in influence, power, and membership and now with friends in the Florida Legislature and allies at the national level, we are winning again by expanding into the American Coalition of School Board Members.

President Trump, as a candidate, said, “We’re going to win so much you’re going to get tired of winning.” Well, today parents, teachers, school board members, and students have plenty to celebrate. These are exciting times, but we aren’t tired yet, so Congratulations Secretary DeVos, and Let’s Keep Winning.

Shawn R. Frost


Florida Coalition of School Board Members



OPPAGA Study of SREF Building Codes Released!

OPPAGA.JPG& The State Requirements for Educational Facilities (SREF) Should Be Retained; Some Modifications Could Be Made-  by Office of Program Policy Analysis Government Accountability (OPPAGA)

 “The State Requirements for Educational Facilities (SREF) are part of the Florida Building Code. SREF requirements apply to construction, renovation, and remodeling of public educational facilities owned by district school boards and Florida College System boards of trustees. This review focused on K-12 public school construction. We did not identify a compelling reason to eliminate the SREF. The vast majority of school districts (55) believe that the SREF provides value and should be retained. Twenty-six districts recommended modifications to specific SREF requirements that they believed would reduce construction costs without affecting student safety, although there was little consensus among the districts concerning which requirements to modify and how to do so. After evaluating the recommendations, we identified 10 that the Legislature may wish to consider. However, these modifications would result in minimal cost savings and each has potential drawbacks. In addition, several districts expressed concern about the requirement that districts pay for upgrades necessary to have schools function as community emergency shelters and about the appropriateness of current space standards for educational facilities.”

Full Summary Here: http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/MonitorDocs/Reports/pdf/1704rpt.pdf

 Emphasis added



Statement on DeVos

January 27, 2017


Betsy DeVos is an undisputed champion of families and students. For nearly 30 years she has devoted time and resources to improving education options for our nation’s children. Yet millions still languish in failing schools in an education system more than a century old. It’s time for a new vision.


Betsy DeVos provides that vision. She embraces innovation, endorses accountability and—most especially—trusts parents to choose what is in their unique child's best interests. She also believes in providing every parent with the resources and choices to pursue those decisions.


On this week, National School Choice Week, we the undersigned endorse this champion of choice and the education reforms needed to improve the future of every child in America. We strongly advocate for Betsy Devos to be confirmed as our next U.S. Secretary of Education.


 Shawn R. Frost


Florida Coalition of School Board Members


Senate Education Committee January 23, 2017

 Video Link, WATCH HERE: http://www.flsenate.gov/media/videoplayer?EventID=2443575804_2017011129 

Full Meeting Packet: http://www.flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/Committees/2016-2018/ED/MeetingRecords/MeetingPacket_3601.pdf


SB 2 establishes the “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2017” to strengthen funding and programmatic mechanisms so that every student in Florida, regardless of his or her economic circumstances, is able to access higher education and graduate on time in 4 years with a baccalaureate degree. Specifically, the bill:

  • · Modifies the state university and Florida College System institution performance accountability metrics and standards to promote on-time student graduation in 4 years.
  • · Increases student financial aid and tuition assistance to:

o Expand the Florida Bright Futures Academic Scholars (FAS) award to cover 100 percent of tuition and specified fees plus $300 per fall and spring semester for textbooks and college-related expenses;

o Expand eligibility for the Benacquisto Scholarship Program (Formerly National Merit Scholarship) to include eligible students graduating from out of state; and

o Revise the state-to-private match requirements for contributions to the First Generation Matching Grant Program from 1:1 to 2:1.

  • · Establishes tuition incentives by requiring state university boards of trustees to adopt a resident and non-resident undergraduate student block tuition policy.
  • · Strengthens “2+2” articulation by establishing the “2+2” targeted pathway program.
  • · Requires school districts to provide notification to students and parents about applying acceleration mechanism credit to a postsecondary degree. Increasing the FAS award is estimated to cost $126.2 million for 45,213 students to cover 100 percent of tuition and specified fees, and $24.9 million for college-related expenses. Including out-of-state students in the Benacquisto Scholarship Program is estimated to cost $1.1 million for 54 scholars. Doubling the state matching funds for the First Generation in College Matching Grant program is estimated to cost an additional $5.3 million. The bill takes effect July 1, 2017.

Member Remarks:

Bright Futures : Sen. Thurston asked if it would be possible to lower standards for Bright Futures so that more minority students could participate.



Read more

Statement on Dismissal of Tax Credit Scholarship Lawsuit


January 18, 2017


FCSBM Remarks on Florida Supreme Court’s

Dismissal of Lawsuit against Education Reforms


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida Supreme Court this morning declined to exercise jurisdiction over McCall v. Scott, bringing a long-running, union-led attack on school choices in Florida to a close. The Florida Coalition of School Board Members (FCSBM) shared the following statement on the ruling:


“Florida is on the right side of history,” said Shawn Frost, FCSBM President. “I am proud to live in a state where educational choices for families are embraced and upheld. My colleagues and I celebrate this victory alongside the nearly 100,000 students and their families who benefit from the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.


“Let’s return Florida’s focus to where it belongs: on our students. We must commit to meeting each child's unique needs, and improving academic outcomes for all. When choices work for a child, we should celebrate that success not be threatened by it.”


The Florida Coalition of School Board Members is a non-partisan non-profit (501c3) individual membership organization for elected school board members and candidates. To learn more, visit www.fcsbm.org.




January 13 2017 Legislative Wrap Up


FCSBM President, Shawn Frost (Indian River) and Chairman of the Florida House Education Committee, Rep. Michael Bileca

FCSBM Members, be sure to sign up for our first Legislative Virtual Town Hall to get a preview of session and DIRECTLY ask your questions of Chair Bileca. Sign up here. 

Summary of week ending 1/13/2017

Main Take-aways:

  • Budget revenues will be flat, so cuts are planned to deal with enrollment increase. “Nothing is sacred, not even FEFP”-House Ed Approps Chair Rep. Manny Diaz Jr.


  • Focus on high-impact and turn-around schools including high impact charter network – House Ed Committee Chair Rep. Mike Bileca



  • Best and Brightest to stay, be codified, and possibly expanded- House Ed Committee Chair Rep. Mike Bileca



  • According to PhD Anna Egalite, Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University, generally neutral and positive results exist for public schools when school choice programs create competition with private schools. Research validates that school choice programs increase outcomes without harming public schools.


  • Testing important on Senate side, but House side will likely hold the line or move modestly and incrementally- FEE


FCSBM specific-

Charter Capital Outlay has a sponsor and bill in drafting and several objections were addressed

Tough macro-economic environment for an appropriation for fiscal responsibility PD, but the irony is that for charter capital outlay bill to work and for districts to operate in more constrained environments, PD is essential.

McKay seems to be well positioned in House with support of Chair Bileca, who has carried most of past McKay legislation

Best and Brightest as incentive to staff under-performing schools (lukewarm)

School Board Member Rights and Responsibilities- Everyone shocked, sponsors have other priorities

Open enrollment- No tweaks this session unless someone opens it up, but legislators share our concerns when we share how some districts are gaming the system.

BOOKED: Legislative Virtual Town Halls for FCSBM members:

January 25th 6PM: House Education (full) Committee Chair Rep. Mike Bileca Sign Up HERE [link]

February 15th  6PM: House Education Prek-12 Appropriations Chair Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. Sign Up HERE [link]


Committee Summaries, meeting packets, and video links in expanded blog



Read more

Committee Reports -Week 1 of 2017 Legislative Session

Week one Committee Reports:

President Negron met with Committee Chairs, Staff, and Directors and his most important message to committee chairs: don’t believe the hype- the upper chamber is consistently conservative. This is good news for FCSBM which is often referred to as “the conservative School Board Group”.

Watch entire video here: https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/121216- senate-presidents-briefing-senate-committee-chairs-staff-directors/

Senate PreK-12 Committee, Chair Senator Hukill. The meeting focused entirely on higher education, with Sen. Mayfield (acting as chair) noting that this is a priority of Senate President Negron and that he has made it clear that he intends to increase funding to our University System. Not much here for PreK-12 SBM other than possible funding ramifications.

Watch entire video here: https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/121216-senate-education-committee/


Senate PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee- Chairman Sen. Simmons (R- Maitland), in his opening remarks, reiterated his commitment to the extra hour of reading in the lowest 300 funding. His support bodes well for the FCSBM legislative initiative using Best and Brightest preferentially in underperforming schools.  View all 2017 FCSBM Legislative Priorities

Chairman Simmons also indicated that we need to look into testing. This is promising at our prospects for getting a version of the Sunshine Solution (SB1360 from 2016) across the finish line this session. There also seems to be a number of organizations jumping into the parade joining what we started in August of 2015. There is a strong possibility that we can “pick up the spare”, to use a bowling term by getting the final initiative from 2016 session passed in 2017 and go 8 out of 8.

Related article: http://www.news4jax.com/web/wjxt/education/budget-chairman-wants-serious-look-at-testing

Chair Sen. Simmons echoed Sen. Rousan (D- St. Pete) concern about the financial impact if the FEA overturns the Tax Credit Scholarships . Will it be the $300 million+ NEGATIVE impact to District Schools that many project, will it be worse? If TCS are overturned, most models indicate that the costs will far exceed the revenues by several hundred million dollars and staff was asked to prepare an analysis that was expected to be ready “in a matter of days.” Per Chair Simmons:

Related Article: Fla. Senators want to know budget impact of school choice lawsuit


Watch entire meeting video here: https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/121416-senate-appropriations-subcommittee-pre-k-12-education/


Other School Board Matters to watch:


Education Related BILLS FILED 12-12-12 through 12-16-16



Brewing battle on Oil Spill Funds and Property Taxes:

Speaker Corcoran:

“We’re not raising taxes, absolutely not,” Corcoran said. “We’ll find a way.”



Mandatory Recess:



ESSA Implementation Update 12-15-2016:

View the ExcelinEd webinar slides here: http://www.excelined.org/wp-content/uploads/Webinar-5-Final-Regulations_Final.pdf

 Like these updates? Don’t like them? Please provide feedback so that we can improve. These are the benefits of membership in FCSBM. This report was provided as a sample to non-members, all subsequent reports will appear in our “members only” section of our website. Not a member? Consider joining: http://FCSBM.org/Join

Call: (850) 391-0421 info (at) FCSBM (dot) org