Senate Bill six, the controversial teacher compensation bill that has everyone in Education circles in the State of Florida talking, is quickly making it's way through the Florida senate. Several inside sources now report that passage of Senate Bill six looks "highly likely."
On Friday, March 19th, the senate ways and means committee heard the bill, added some amendments, and passed the measure along party lines via a 15-8 vote. Significant ammendments to the bill were added by the Policy and Steering Committee on Ways and Means in order to:
• Eliminate the millage levy from the bill (I'm very relieved to hear this--I hated the idea of an additional millage levy penalty)
• Designate a performance fund within the FEFP for each district and charter school that is equal to five percent of the total state, local and federal FEFP funds per district and charter school:
o Provide that the fund may be used to implement the provisions of the bill, including the development and acquisition of end-of-course exams, development of an appraisal system, and development and implementation of salary schedules that include teacher performance and differential pay;
o Prohibit the use of funds to increase the salary of a person rated on a performance appraisal as unsatisfactory or in need of improvement;
o Require districts and charter schools to set aside sufficient federal grant funds to pay individuals who are paid from federal funds;
o Provide that any funds remaining after a district or charter school has met its requirements may be used for current operations, but unexpended funds revert at the end of the state fiscal year;
o Provide that salary increases from the performance fund are in addition to other salary increases;
o Provide that districts and charter schools that fail to comply with the requirements will have funds withheld from the state FEFP distribution;
• Provide that salary adjustments and increases for instructional personnel and school-based administrators must be based on their performance evaluation;
• Remove the requirement that more than 50 percent of pay must be based on student performance (more than 50 percent of the employee’s performance appraisal must be based on student performance); and
• For school districts that receive a grant of $75 million or more from a private foundation to improve teacher effectiveness, provides a time-limited exception to the requirements for end-of-course assessments, contracts, the performance fund, and performance pay and appraisals (this accommodates Hillsborough County and its grant from the Gates Foundation).
This information was taken from the Senate Policy and Steering Committee on Ways and Means staff analysis of CS/CS for SB 6, passed by the Committee on Friday, March 19th.
SB 6 is headed to the Senate floor today, March 23, for the second reading. I'm told that the likely result of the second hearing on the senate floor will be that the bill will roll over, be attached to a house bill and sent to the House of Representatives for their consideration/deliberation. Although no specific companion bill exists yet in the House, SB 6 will likely be attached to House Bill 7037. The next part of the process involves negotiations between the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate.
After the House considers the bill, SB 6 could be back on the Senate floor as early as this Thursday, March 25--at which time it may be ultimately voted on and passed.
Although divisive, this bill will revolutionize education in the state of Florida if it is passed. The education community accross the nation will be watching this very closely, as this could be a ground-breaking, historic moment.
The sense that I get from many is that this bill is being pushed through and will ultimately pass because it puts Florida in an even better position to be one of the first recipients of a piece of President Barack Obama's $4.35 Billion Race to The Top (RTTT) Grant. Many of this landmark bill's provisions are directly aligned with the vision of RTTT.
Florida is on the cutting edge of education reform, and it is exciting!
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