Suing the Florida Legislature is a Bad Idea

School Board Filing litigation against the Florida Legislature:
 
It won’t work and it’s bad for students.
Scott Shine – 8/27/2017 ( Duval County School Board Member and FCSBM NE FL Mentor)
The Florida Legislature passed bill 7069 in its most recent session, a bill that has significant funding implications for public schools. Of most concern, it channels a portion of local property tax dollars to privately run charter schools. This sweeping legislation has both positive and negative impacts to local schools. But clearly, the most concerning is the reduction in funding for mainstream public schools like those I represent in the Jacksonville Beaches area.
School Boards across the state are considering filing litigation against the State of Florida alleging the new law created by the bill is unconstitutional.  The problem with litigation as a remedy is that it simply will not work and will exacerbate the animosity that currently exists between public education and the Florida Legislature. I do not support litigation against the state, as I believe it is potentially injurious for students and will not provide the remedy to funding shortfalls that we now face in delivering public education.
 
The best predictor of the future is the past
We have been down the litigation road before. And, the result was failure. Several years ago, the legislature approved a law allowing parents to receive a tax payer funded financial “voucher” to be used in paying for tuition at a private school of their choice. Public school collectives and related industry groups sued the state on the basis that vouchers violated that state constitution. And, they won. But, the victory was short. Choice advocates redesigned the voucher program to, essentially, make it “litigation proof.” The Florida Legislature passed a new law creating the Florida Tax Scholarship program; it too was challenged in the courts, but litigation failed.
From time-to-time, the legislature creates new laws that have constitutional defects. Litigation invariably results, and the legislature returns to the issue and repairs the law to meet constitutional standards. While this may be routine, public education advocates’ legal challenges to the state further exacerbated the already strained relationship between those in control of the House and Senate. Clearly, there is an air of hostility between the education community and lawmakers in Tallahassee. While speaking truth to power may be a noble endeavor, it is foolhardy when it expands the divide between elected representatives: the result will bring more harm to local school board authority and public school students.
 
Public schools need funding now
The results of shortcomings in funding public education, compounded by the effects of HB 7069 have forced cuts in programs proven to advance academic achievement. When public school funding is adjusted for inflation, per student funding is down significantly. As I see it, the urgent issue is to restore school funding. By my estimate, an increase in state funding by 7% next year is needed, just for our school district to “hold its ground” in delivering services. What’s more, leadership in the Florida Legislature are coming together now to create bills for the next legislative session with committee meetings starting in just a few months. Dropping the lawsuit bomb in the middle of this will do nothing but further damage the perception of public school leadership and dampen any appetite for cooperation and expanding school funding. While a lawsuit may be a noble and righteous action, public school funding will be jeopardized and students will pay the price. Simply, it is the wrong solution at the wrong time.
 
The concern of retaliation
It is important to know that nearly all the instructional funding for students in my district is allocated by the elected members of the Florida Legislature.   In each yearly legislative session, Tallahassee lawmakers vote into law a state budget. This determines educational funding levels for each county in the state. This shows the critical nature of having a positive relationship with our state representatives.
People will ask why the Florida Legislature moved to affirm 7069? It is because of a commonly held view in Tallahassee that public school leadership and methods are largely responsible for lower performance in inner city schools. There is a further belief that migrating from public schools to privately run charter schools will remedy the problem. This belief system is built, in part, on the antagonistic relationship between state school boards and the legislature. A key action expanding this divide was the failed litigation between the Florida School Board Association (FSBA) and the state over the Florida Tax Scholarship program. In addition, some prominent school boards around the state have taken an anti-charter school posture with districts like Palm Beach uniformly voting against all charter school contracts. Understanding the legislature is supportive of expanding charter schools and sees groups like the FSBA as adversarial, 7069 is statutory a remedy through lawmaking designed to accelerate the proliferation of charter schools and disempower local school boards. This is happening while legitimate research points to other causes of lower performance.
(note, school board decisions to approve/deny a charter application are not discretionary functions and are akin to qusi-judicial decision. Applications are approved/denied strictly on statutory compliance and are subject to appeal.)
 
Litigation as an option
Litigation as an option is problematic. It can take years to resolve and you may lose. Once you play the lawsuit card, there is little hope of returning to the table for meaningful negotiation and diplomacy. Not to mention, litigation is by definition “adversarial review” and further opens the gap of distrust and hostility that is the causal factor of the dysfunctional relationship between education and the legislature.
Is there a legal defect in 7069? I can tell you firsthand what it is like to have a sponsored bill in the Florida Legislature. Among the largest hurdles to get across: getting your bill past the legislative staff lawyers. Their score card is graded by judicial appeals and they err on the side of caution when drafting and recommending bills. The litigation option needs to be framed by the fact that legislative branch lawyers are the best at what they do and there is rigorous due diligence before a bill is recommend as legally consistent with all the superior law that affects it.
Litigation is not cheap. Joining a lawsuit will likely cost in the tens of thousands of dollars and that money will come from the classroom. Filing a direct lawsuit will likely take hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the classroom. Statistically, the odds of prevailing in litigation of this type and achieving the desired results are remote, at best.
 
The conflict of democracy
Bill 7069 was enacted into law because the people you voted for went to Tallahassee and voted for it. As an elected official, it is very difficult for me to say “yes” to litigation against the state when all the members of the Florida House and Senate that represent my district voted in support of 7069. I believe in representative democracy. To disempower the elected officials that were elected by a majority of my constituents is inconsistent with the system of government I believe in. Most importantly, it disempowers and overrides the will of the voters I represent. This is a very important reason not to support litigation.
 
What needs to happen.
We need funding now to bring public schools back to the levels seen in the past: that funding comes by way of legislation that can only be passed by the state legislature. I am working with our elected representatives right now in the Florida Legislature to restore funding in the next session. It is critical that we “cease fire” with Tallahassee lawmakers and put an end to finger pointing and talk of litigation. Our public-school students are not benefiting from this hostility and we need to put emotions aside and deal with the realties and challenges that are present every day in our school system.
If it’s really about students, it’s not about a lawsuit. It’s about putting our differences behind us and moving forward for our children. Let’s support restoring funding levels for all students in the upcoming legislative session.
UPDATE: Duval School Board Voted to Join the Lawsuit (4-2 one absent) with Scott Shine and Ashley Smith Juarez casting "no" votes. 
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Title I Mythbusting of outdated talking points

See here for a review of Title I language in 7069 as a PDF

School Board Members and Superintendents have taken to the media calling for Governor Scott to Veto HB7069 or SB2500 which contains most of the budget including FEFP.

Many of the talking points being used are for previous versions of bills or are skewed in such a way as to seemingly intentionally mislead the public. 

 

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7069 points and references to prior bills

Full 278 page Bill Here: WARNING this is a large PDF

 HB7069 passed the Florida House 73-36(vote sheet) and the Florida Senate 20-18 (vote sheet)

 

For a list of related Statutes and Prior Bills as well as brief message points for 7069 click here to download PDF

Join us this Friday at Noon for "WHAT'S in 7069 & How does it impact my district?" Webinar: 

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6589934318727374339
Webinar ID: 705-512-947 (FREE and open to School Board Members and the Media- FCSBM members may ask questions)

 

FCSBM members and the Legislative Task Force were able to secure or shape the effects of the following:

Rewarding Teachers and Principals

Academic research supports the finding that great teachers are the key to giving a child a world-class education.   Florida needs to recruit and retain the highest quality teachers.  This bill revises and expands the Best and Brightest Program in order to provide annual bonuses to qualified teachers in each of the next three years.  Best and Brightest teachers receive $6,000, Best and Brightest Title I principals receive $5,000 and other eligible principals receive $4,000. For the next 3 years, all highly effective teachers will receive $1,200 per year and all effective teachers will receive up to $800 per year. 

 

Bills heard containing language: Original 7069 (Rep M. Diaz) 1552 (Sen Simmons)

 note: in our November Legislative Priorities List, FCSBM wanted to use Best and Brightest to impact low performing schools. Little did we know about the major "schools of hope" initiative, but we are excited to see the feedback incorporated in Best and Brightest. 

The bill removes the caps on teacher bonuses based on student passage of AP, IB, AICE, and industry certification exams and revises eligibility requirements for the Minority Teacher Education Scholars Program. The bill also reforms the teacher evaluation process by making use of the student learning growth formula (VAM) optional (Montford), while still providing school districts and administrators with objective data on teacher performance.

Bills heard containing language:

 

 

Schools of Hope and Wraparound Services

Too many children in Florida languish in chronically underperforming schools.  The bill revises the distribution of Title I funds and provides approximately $140 million to support turn-around efforts in areas of high poverty. First, up to 25 failing public schools may receive up to $2,000 per student for whole school transformation, such as wraparound services. In addition, the Schools of Hope Program incentivizes hope operators who have a track record of academic improvement to operate in Florida.

Bills heard containing language:

Wrap Around Services introduced in Sen. Simmons Amendment to SB1552 Barcode: 475992 adopted 4/20/17

Wrap Around Language clipped: PDF HERE

note: FCSBM was able to make this policy better by urging the legislature to adopt a "#whateverItTakes" approach that incorporated district turn around with funding and flexibility. This will be essential in early phases as attracting High Impact Charter operators to the state will take time. Districts are positioned to act NOW!

 

Schools of Excellence

The bill gives administrative flexibility to regular district managed public schools with proven track records of academic success.

Bills heard containing language: 1331 (Rep. Grall)  1598

 

Parental Choice

The bill supports choice by allowing high-performing charter schools to replicate in low performing areas.  The bill also expands eligibility for the Gardiner Scholarship Program and provides $30 million in funding for the currently enrolled and for students on the waitlist. It also expands access to virtual education for students throughout the state, and establishes the Committee on Early Childhood Development.

Bills heard containing language:

 

 

Assessments

The bill brings common sense back to our statewide testing structureThe bill eliminates the Algebra 2 end-of-course exam, requires paper-based assessments for grades 3-6, moves the majority of statewide assessments to the last 4 weeks of a district’s school year, and provides parents and teachers with timely and useful assessment results to inform instruction. The bill also requires an independent study of ACT/SAT as a replacement for grade 10 ELA assessment and Algebra I EOC assessment. Also requires 

Bills heard containing language: HB773 (Diaz M. , Sprowls),  SB926 (Flores), HB549 (Fine)

 

 

Civics

The bill responds to the need for more civics education and establishes civic literacy requirements. The bill also requires the Just Read, Florida! Office to develop sequenced, content-rich curriculum programming, instructional practices, and other resources to help elementary schools increase student core knowledge and literacy skills. Also creates a FCSBM local initiative taking it statewide "American Founders Month". This idea first appeared 

Bills heard containing language:

 

 

Recess

The bill requires traditional public schools to provide 20 minutes of consecutive free play recess per day for students in kindergarten through grade 5.

Bills heard containing language:

 

 

Reading

The bill implements intervention and support strategies for students identified with a substantial reading deficiency, and also directs the Lastinger Center to identify strategies to improve phonemic awareness for early readers.

 Bills heard containing language:

 

 

Charter Capital Outlay Sharing of Ad Valorem Dollars

This creates equity in funding of all public school students by using local property tax revenues to fund local public school students without regard to the type of institution they attend. Calculation is total amount of ad vel revs generated by (up to) 1.5 mills capital funding minus district debt service annual payment of debt service ( frozen to that held on March 1, 2017) divided by number of students then back out any state funds (PECO) going to charter school then distribute on per student basis. Does not involve sharing of other sources of capital revenue such as impact fees, voter approved sales tax / millage.

 

Ending of “tenure light” automatic contract extension

 

Some school districts have entered into contracts with their teachers’ unions that stipulate automatic contract renewal for teachers rated at least “highly effective” and/or “effective”. This bill clarifies that to be forbidden in the legislation outlawing tenure.  SB 856

 

Title One Directed to Classrooms- (Not version in 1362 that was problematic)

 This seems like Title I portability where the “money follows the student” but MANY districts are VERY upset with this provision, presumably because it removes district level planning of resources, but it is difficult to imagine a situation where a principal would create a plan with which the district had concerns. Some said that the issue was that the threshold for applying to Title I schools would be lowered below the district level because the state level would be 75%. This provision would have led to more Title I schools therefore diluting the funding per school. This originally appeared in SB1362 but WAS REMOVED in conference. The money will not be diluted. This section places limitations on the use of funds. This is one of the ways we are able to diminish negative effects.

 

SUMMARY:

We believe the comprehensive package of reforms and new initiatives included in HB 7069 will create the opportunity for transformational change in Florida’s educational system 

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HB7069 Big WINS for FCSBM

 

For Immediate Release:

May 5, 2017

Tallahassee, Florida

The Florida Coalition of School Board Members celebrates Major Wins
with passage of Landmark Testing and Many Other Key Legislative Initiatives

Florida Coalition of School Board Members had several major legislative initiatives wins today, after weeks of committee appearances, and meetings with chairman, representatives and senators in Tallahassee during the 2017 session.  The education conforming bill HB7069 delivered wins in many, many, of our supported issues. View Text of HB7069 Here

The Coalition’s original legislative platform adopted in November of 2016 Found here

  • Fewer, Better, Transparent, Tests: Our key legislation HB549 was taken up and passed unanimously out of the Florida Senate 38-0 May 4th, and engrossed into theHB7069 Friday May 5th. The bill also addressed our “School visitation by a school board member” initiative along with phonics-based education for teachers and coaches.
  • HB989 – Instructional Materials Adoption by Rep Byron Donalds: A top-5 issue of ours was taken up by Sen Sponsor Pres Tom Lee and passed. It will be sent off to Governor Scott to be signed into law.  
  • Virtual Education Expansion, HB833: removing the prior year public requirement for eligibility, passed
  • Charter Student Capital Outlay Sharing: Expected to clear in the budget conforming bill.
  • Gardiner Scholarship enhancements, HB15 by Rep Jennifer Sullivan: Taken up by Senate companion bill sponsors Grimsley and Simmons to expand the Gardiner Scholarship program and increase the travel scholarship for students attending schools outside of their district.

FCSBM is grateful to the members of the Florida House and Senate who had the courage to pass these landmark pieces of ‘Student First’ legislation addressing student assessment reform, instructional materials adoption, and more educational choices for families. We thank the bill sponsors, Pres. Pro Tempore Sen. Anitere Flores and Chair Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., and House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Michael Bileca for hearing the voices of School Board Members, teachers, and other stakeholder groups. Through the collaboration of many great minds, we have a bill that is a quantum leap forward in student-centered education.

“One of FCSBM’s core values is ‘Balance of Accountability & Reasonableness in Assessments’ so we are excited to see this significant testing reform pass. This path has been long and arduous with many groups and legislators lending their voice to shape this important policy, but the final result is incredible progress forward for teachers, families, and students.” -Shawn Frost, FCSBM president

This legislation ticks off several boxes FCSBM members expressed in an August 2015 survey:

  • Paper and Pencil testing for grades 3-5
  • A step forward, via an independent alignment study, towards using ACT/SAT in place of the FSA in High Schools.
  • Moving the tests to the end of the year so teachers have time to teach, students have time to learn, and the test measures a year’s worth of progress in a year’s time.

It has several other features which our members approved before the 2017 session began, including:

  • Publishing past tests bringing transparency to the process
  • Providing parents with an easy to read and easy to implement guide to help their student succeed
  • School Board Member Access to Schools without an appointment
  • Removes prior year public attendance requirement for Virtual School
  • Removal of statutory caps on certain teacher bonuses
  • Provides for greater community involvement in instructional materials adoption

Other items our Legislative Task Force supported after the November platform was set are:

  • HB436- Religious Expression in Public Schools (Religious liberty) by Sen Baxley and Rep Daniels
  • American Founders’ Month and Civics Literacy Education
  • Removal of Bonus Caps for Teachers around certain tests (IB/AP/CAPE)

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.

###

Contact:            Shawn Frost, President FCSBM    info@FCSBM.org or (850) 391-0421

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May 3,2017 Update- BREAKING TESTING BILLS

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Legislative Update:  May 3, 2017 – BREAKING TESTING BILL MAJOR AMENDMENT

Activities Today In Florida House of Representatives-

Fewer Better Tests HB773 (Diaz) WAS TEMPORARILY POSTPONED on third reading up for final passage in Florida House again tomorrow (See look ahead below)

In Florida Senate:

SB1210 Instructional Materials - on Second Reading- Substituted House companion (HB989) up for final passage on 5/4.

SB902 (Gardiner Scholarship Expansion) and SB1314 were joined as the Senate decided to take up  HB15 which had both these bills on

Looking ahead: The trains are forming-

Testing Bill SB926 up in Senate, but will likely take up HB549 (Fine) as Sen Flores filed a 72 page strike all amendment which has MANY things-

  • School Visitation by a School Board Member (high priority for FCSBM) 80-102
  • Absence for Autism treatments
  • Sunscreen possession
  • Charter School Cooperative
  • High Performing Charter Network
  • Spells out that charter VPK are  PUBLIC schools 175-178
  • Eliminates Algebra II and Civics end of course (EOC) exams
  • Blended course meets “online course” requirement
  • Mandatory Recess 449-453
  • Removes requirement that 50% of instructional materials be digital
  • ELA & Math exams for grades 3-5 will be PAPER AND PENCIL
  • Grade 3 ELA results made available no later than May 31
  • Grade 3 ELA and Grade 4 writing begin no sooner than April 1st
  • Easy to read parent report
  • Commissions independent study of national tests (ACT/SAT) vs. FSA
  • Publication of the past assessments every 3 years 804-821
  • Removes caps on teacher bonuses for certain programs (IB/AP etc)
  • Sick and annual leave transfer with the teacher if he/she transfers to public charter
  • Alternate Teacher Certification Pathway 1347-1448
  • Charter school teacher certification / mentorship pathway
  • Shared use of playground equipment
  • Structure and accountability around Voluntary Pre Kindergarten

 

HB773 (Diaz / Sprowls) – Still on 3rd reading Calendar

Up in Senate 5/4:

SB926 Fewer Better Tests Sponsor- Pres. Pro Tem Flores is busy with budget negotiations so Sen Kelli Stargel is taking the driver’s seat on this very good bill. Her experience with education will be very valuable. We expect - HB549 to be heard / Amended with strike all and then sent over to House for final consideration. It will probably be passed 5/5 as one of the last bills.

These amendments will fall away as 549 is considered- (many appear in the Flores strike all)

  • Baxley Amendment- Allow students to carry sunscreen
  • Hukill Amendment- Financial Literacy Graduation Requirement
  • Baxley Amendment- Virtual School Remove Prior year (HB833 we supported) and This Amendment to the Amendment
  • Mayfield Amendment-   Alternative Teacher Certification path
  • Bean Amendment – Use of playground equipment by non-district organizations

Galvano 1468 (Similar to HB833 Virtual Education). Senate will likely take up 833 with a couple amendments and send back to House

  • Galvano Amendment- Virtual Education- Workers Comp- Children’s Musical Education Incentive Pilot Program
  • Baxley Amendment – Teacher Mentorship Certification Path

 

 

FCSBM Top Priorities Status:

Testing Reform- HB549 (Fine) passed House Last Friday- HB773 (Diaz) up for final passage in Florida House tomorrow 5/2/17 SB926 (Flores) in Rules not yet on Special order. Both 773 and 926 have become trains.  773/926 both contain Visitation of Schools by School Board Member

Religious Liberty – Passed both chambers (with Governor Scott) SB4436

Charter Capital Outlay- SB376 in conference – language may appear in another bill

Meeting Between Two Board Members (Sunshine)- HB843 up on House Floor for final passage tomorrow 5/2/17 - Senate uncertain  FAILED TO REACH THRESHOLD 68-48

Instructional Materials Adoption- HB989 Instructional Materials Adoption- Passed House- Senate SB1210 on Second Reading 5/2/17 should appear for final passage on Senate Floor 5/4/17

Choice Programs-  SB902 – Gardiner Scholarships on final passage 5/4 as HB15

Also support 1468 and 833 Virtual School 

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May 2, 2017 Update & Look Ahead

 Legislative Update:  May 2, 2017

Activities Today In Florida House of Representatives-

Fewer Better Tests HB773 (Diaz) WAS TEMPORARILY POSTPONED on third reading up for final passage in Florida House again tomorrow (See look ahead below)

HB843 “Meeting between to Board Members or Commissioners” up on House Floor for final vote FAILED TO REACH THRESHOLD 68-48

In Florida Senate:

SB1210 Instructional Materials - on Second Reading- retained on special order calendar. May take up House companion (HB989) instead and waive rules and pass on 5/3.

Looking ahead: The trains are forming-

Testing Bill up in House Wednesday May 3-

HB773 (Diaz / Sprows)

  • Playground access (Ponder) amendment similar to Sen Galvano bill withdrawn

Up in Senate:

SB926 Fewer Better Tests Sponsor- Pres. Pro Tem Flores is busy with budget negotiations so Sen Kelli Stargel is taking the driver’s seat on this very good bill. Her experience with education will be very valuable. We expect 926 to be heard and then sent over to House for consideration. The House can then vote and send back and Senate could suspend rules and vote on second reading and Bill is passed 5/3. Or, passed on 5/4. Rumor is that the deals have been made between sponsors and chambers hence the Amendments.

  • Baxley Amendment- Allow students to carry sunscreen
  • Hukill Amendment- Financial Literacy Graduation Requirement
  • Baxley Amendment- Virtual School Remove Prior year (HB833 we supported) and This Amendment to the Amendment
  • Mayfield Amendment-   Alternative Teacher Certification path
  • Bean Amendment – Use of playground equipment by non-district organizations

Galvano 1468 (Similar to HB833 Virtual Education). Senate will take up 833 with a couple amendments and send back to House

  • Galvano Amendment- Virtual Education- Workers Comp- Children’s Musical Education Incentive Pilot Program
  • Baxley Amendment – Teacher Mentorship Certification Path

 

In other News: House Education Committee Chair, Michael Bileca sent a text at 8:24PM when asked about status of “American Founders Month/ Civics Ed/ reading program” that “We [the House] has a plan! Should be fine.”

 

FCSBM Top Priorities Status:

Testing Reform- HB549 (Fine) passed House Last Friday- HB773 (Diaz) up for final passage in Florida House tomorrow 5/2/17 SB926 (Flores) in Rules not yet on Special order. Both 773 and 926 have become trains.  773/926 both contain Visitation of Schools by School Board Member

Religious Liberty – Passed both chambers (with Governor Scott) SB4436

Charter Capital Outlay- SB376 in conference – language may appear in another bill

Meeting Between Two Board Members (Sunshine)- HB843 up on House Floor for final passage tomorrow 5/2/17 - Senate uncertain  FAILED TO REACH THRESHOLD 68-48

Instructional Materials Adoption- HB989 Instructional Materials Adoption- Passed House- Senate SB1210 on Second Reading 5/2/17 should appear for final passage on Senate Floor 5/3/17 

Choice Programs-  SB902 – Gardiner Scholarships on 2nd reading 5/3 1468 and 833 Virtual School 

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May1 2017 Legislative Update

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Standing Room Only in Knott 412- Florida Senate Appropriations Committee - May 1, 2017

 Legislative Update:  May 1, 2017

Activities Today in Senate Appropriations CommitteeMeeting Packet: Meeting Video

SB1362  Baxley- Charter schools- passed Senate Appropriations Committee with interesting language around Title I in Amendment. (Stargel). None of Sen Montford’s Amendments were adopted.

SB902 Gardiner Scholarship Expansion passed 17-0

SB1314 Grimsley- Education Options – Step up Scholarships et al. Passed 13-4

SB1598 Brandes- Schools of Excellence NOT HEARD

SB1710 Stargel- “American Founders’ Month”, Reading Readiness, civics education. NOT HEARD

FCSBM Top Priorities Status:

Testing Reform- HB549 (Fine) passed House Last Friday- HB773 (Diaz) up for final passage in Florida House tomorrow 5/2/17 SB926 (Flores) in Rules not yet on Special order. Both 773 and 926 have become trains.  773/926 both contain Visitation of Schools by School Board Member

Religious Liberty – Passed both chambers (with Governor Scott) SB4436

Charter Capital Outlay- SB376 in conference – language may appear in another bill

Meeting Between Two Board Members (Sunshine)- HB843 up on House Floor for final passage tomorrow 5/2/17 - Senate uncertain

Instructional Materials Adoption- HB989 Instructional Materials Adoption- Passed House- Senate SB1210 on Second Reading 5/2/17 should appear for final passage on Senate Floor 5/3/17 

 

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Week 3 Brings Wins for FCSBM in 2017 Legislative Session!

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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.

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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--

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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

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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 PACKET 

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)

MEETING PACKET: LINK HERE

MEETING VIDEO: VIEW ONLINE

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Opening Day 2017 Session- 4 Bills Moving!

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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

Meeting Video: VIEW ONLINE 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 

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