|legislation that is built on multiple pieces of other related bills at the end of session is called a "Train"|
Everyone connected to education has something to say about HB 7029, the massive, omnibus education legislation that passed the House and Senate on the last day of this year's legislative session. There are a lot of member priorities tucked into the law, as many bills that may not have passed on their own were added to the bill late in the game. That's how the sausage comes out of the hopper, that is how many bills end up becoming laws.
Of course I am very pleased with the membership association language that was included--this was absolutely necessary and long overdue. Conservative school board members should not be forced to join high-priced, taxpayer-funded membership associations that spend this money unwisely on needless litigation against the Governor and the Legislature. We should have always enjoyed, as individually elected constitutional offices, choice in advocacy. And now we do!
But many other aspects of the bill are equally appealing to reform-minded officials like me, such as the expansion of school choice opportunities that empowers students and families, school board member campus visits and inspections of schools language, classroom teacher transfer language that empowers parents, immediate athletic eligibility for students of military families that transfer into a Florida public schools, construction spending caps that force economy and efficiency for capital spending projects, and much, much more.
Of course, there are liberals and other guardians of the status-quo that think Governor Scott should veto HB 7029. They don't like the way it was passed. Thankfully, most observers do not believe this bill will be vetoed.
Ironic how liberals that benefit tremendously from massive, pork-laden omnibus spending packages rammed through Congress in DC decry the method in which HB 7029 was passed through the Florida Legislature. Yes, these liberals and other status quo guardians have NO PROBLEM with Harry Reid and his minions utilizing dirty tricks and opaque Senate rules to ram-rod OBAMACARE through the Congress in secrecy with no open testimony or public scrutiny and without A SINGLE REPUBLICAN VOTE. Yes, DC politics, when liberals drive the train and benefit from the process, is completely acceptable. Yet a large bill that PASSED in Florida with large margins by Republicans and many Democratic supporters---HB 7029-- is somehow "unacceptable."
As Spock from Star Trek might comment on this rank hypocrisy "Fascinating."
But I digress...
Our district's legislative affairs representative, Mixon and Associates, put together a very nice recap of all the items contained in HB 7029, which I will post below. Long read, but lots of good information.
HB 7029: School Choice
Please note that the summary below is not in the order in which these elements are contained in the bill, rather they are grouped together by topic in order to aid in the dissemination of information to the staff responsible for implementation. Additionally, unless otherwise noted in this summary, the elements of the bill will take effect on July 1, 2016.
Membership Associations – bill lines 348-368
Mandates that dues paid to a membership association which are paid with public funds must be assessed for each elected or appointed public officer and may be paid to a membership association.
Requires that if a public officer elects not to join the membership association, the dues assessed to that public officer may not be paid to the membership association.
School Board Member Duties – bill lines 369-378
Authorizes school board members to visit schools.
Educational Choice – bill lines 418-612, 1770-1806
Authorizes parents to seek any public educational choice options for their children throughout the state.
States that in addition to other choice programs, options for students also includes CAPE digital tools, CAPE industry certifications and collegiate high school programs.
Requires school district to create a school financial report that must indicate the average amount of money expended per student in the school which must be included in the student handbook or a similar publication.
Beginning with 2017/18 school year, as part of district’s or charter school’s controlled open enrollment process, each school board or charter school must allow a parent from any district in the state whose child is not subject to current expulsion or suspension to enroll his/her child in and transport his/her child to any public school, including charter schools, that has not reached capacity, subject to class size.
District or charter schools must accept the student and report student for FEFP funding.
States that school district or charter may provide transportation.
Capacity determinations must be current and on district websites. School board must incorporate the specifications, plans, elements, and commitments contained in the school district educational facilities plan and the long-term work programs required under s. 1013.35.
Charter school governing board determines capacity based on charter school contract.
Preferential treatment must be provided to military dependents; foster care relocations, custody issues or serious illness/death of parent; students residing in district.
Specifies preferential treatment for charter school.
Students residing in district, including charter school students, may not be displaced by student from another district seeking enrollment.
Student who transfers may remain at school chosen by parent until student completes the highest grade level at the school.
School board must adopt by rule and post on website controlled open enrollment process.
Requires school board to annually report number of students exercising choice by type.
Voluntary PreK Program – bill lines 612-631, 3920-3928
Modifies eligibility to provide that each child who will have attained the age of 4 years on or before September 1st of the school year is eligible for VPK during either that school year or the following school year.
The child remains eligible until the child is admitted to kindergarten, or unless he or she will have attained the age of 6 years by February 1st of any school year.
Notwithstanding specific statutes, for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 VPK program years, the Office of Early Learning must not adopt a kindergarten readiness rate.
Freezes current VPK readiness rates through 15-16 school year (Implementing Bill)
Charter Schools – bill lines 632-1447
Clarifies an existing charter seeking to become a virtual charter must amend its charter or submit a new application.
Mandates that a sponsor must deny applications (vs. charter) if school does not propose a reading curriculum that meets certain criteria.
Requires that an applicant must disclose the name of applicant, governing board, etc. and each proposed education services provider that has closed, etc.; and academic and financial history of such charter schools, which sponsor must consider in deciding whether to approve or deny application.
Mandates that a fee may not be charged except for draft application.
Requires that if appeal of application denial is filed, applicant must provide a copy to the sponsor.
Allows a charter to defer opening for up to 2 years.
o The charter school must provide written notice of such intent to the sponsor and the parents of enrolled students at least 30 calendar days before the first day of school.
Mandates that admission or dismissal from charter may not be based on academic performance.
Provides process by which the governing board voluntarily closes; including notice to parents and sponsor, etc.
Requires charter school, upon approval of contract, to provide sponsor with monthly financial statement summary sheet.
Requires a sponsor to review each monthly or quarterly financial statement to identify financial emergency.
Provides that a charter contract be automatically terminated if school earns two consecutive grades of “F” after all grade appeals final. Requires notice if charter terminated.
Republishes language regarding to parental involvement and requirements for at least two public meetings in the district where the charter school is located.
Expands eligibility to include employee of municipality that operates charter school-in-municipality or allows charter school to use school facility or portion of land provided by municipality for operation of charter school.
States that students who attend or are assigned to failing schools are eligible.
Authorizes charter school to receive funds form research-based reading allocation.
Provides payment schedule and prohibits school board to delay payment based on timing of receipt of local funds by school board.
Provides remedy to charter school if local governing authority refuses to comply with statue relating to building/site planning.
Deletes prohibition of a high performing charter school from increasing enrollment if receives a “C” or below.
Authorizes, rather than requires, a charter school to develop a system by which teachers demonstrate mastery of professional preparation and education competence.
Charter School Capital Outlay – bill lines 1809-1999
Requires that a charter school have been in operation for 2 rather than 3 years to be eligible for charter school capital outlay.
Mandates that a charter school must be located in Florida to receive capital outlay funds.
Requires that in order to be eligible for funds, a charter must have annual audit that does not reveal any financial emergency conditions.
Deletes existing methodology for distribution of charter school capital outlay and, after based funding, allocates weighted funding based on whether the charter serves 75% or greater students who are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch and/or 25% or greater student who have disabilities as defined by SBE rule and consistent with IDEA.
Requires DOE to calculate the eligible charter school funding allocations. DOE must recalculate the allocations periodically based on receipt of revised information, on a schedule established by the Commissioner.
School District Construction Requirements – bill lines 2143-2280
Revises provisions relating to Special Facility Construction Program.
Requires districts to maintain accurate documentation related to costs of all new construction reported to DOE.
Mandates the Auditor General to review documentation and verify compliance with cost per student station limits.
Requires two studies – one on cost per student station amounts, etc. by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research and SREF by OPPAGA. Both are due no later than 1/31/2017.
Effective 7/1/2017, school boards are prohibited from using funds from any source for new construction which exceed cost per student station limits.
Provides for penalties of exceeded projects unless overage is de minimus or due to extraordinary circumstances outside control of district.
Subjects a school district to sanctions for exceeding cost per student station as determined by the Auditor General. The sanctions do not apply if the cost per student station overage is de minimum or due to extraordinary circumstances outside the control of the district.
Sanctions include ineligibility for PECO for the next 3 years in which the district would have received allocations. In addition, the district shall be subject to supervision of a district capital outlay oversight committee as specified in the bill.
The cost per student station requirements are extended to proceeds received by districts through the provisions of ss. 212.055 and 1011.73 and s. 9, Art. VII of the State Constitution
School District Construction Flexibility – bill lines 3868-3919
Creates section that provides that a school board, with supermajority vote, may adopt a resolution to implement one or more exceptions to SREF.
o Interior non-load-bearing walls, by approving the use of fire-rated wood stud walls in new construction or remodeling for interior non-load-bearing wall assemblies that will not be exposed to water or located in wet areas.
o Walkways, roadways, driveways, and parking areas, by approving the use of designated, stabilized, and well-drained gravel or grassed student parking areas.
o Standards for relocatables used as classroom space, as specified in s. 1013.20, by approving construction specifications for installation of relocatable buildings that do not have covered walkways leading to the permanent buildings onsite.
o Site lighting, by approving construction specifications regarding site lighting that: 1. Do not provide for lighting of gravel or grassed 3908 auxiliary or student parking areas. 2. Provide lighting for walkways, roadways, driveways, paved parking lots, exterior stairs, ramps, and walkways from the exterior of the building to a public walkway through installation of a timer that is set to provide lighting only
during periods when the site is occupied. 3. Allow lighting for building entrances and exits to be installed with a timer that is set to provide lighting only during periods in which the building is occupied. The minimum illumination level at single-door exits may be reduced to no less than 1 foot-candle.
Florida Virtual School – bill lines 2281-2320
Provides for calculation of FTE.
Algebra I EOC – bill lines 3213-3299
Repeals language relating to performance funding for passage of Algebra 1 EOC.
Auditory Oral Education Programs – bill lines 2321-2327
Mandates that beginning with 2017-2018 school year, district must add four special consideration points to calculation of matrix of services for student who is deaf and enrolled in an auditory-oral education program.
Teacher Transfer Request – bill lines 2412- 2423, 3655-3683
Requires each school board to establish transfer process for parent to request his/her child be transferred to another classroom teacher.
o Clarifies that this does not give parent right to choose specific classroom teacher.
o Mandates that a school must approve or deny the transfer within 2 weeks after receiving a request. If request is denied, the school must notify the parent and specify the reasons for denial.
o Requires that an explanation of transfer process must be made available in student handbook or similar publication.
Mandates that each district must report out-of-field teacher on district’s website within 30 days before beginning of each semester.
o Allows a parent to request that his/her child be transferred to an in-field teacher within school and grade in which student enrolled.
o Mandates that a district approve or deny request and transfer the student within a reasonable period of time, not to exceed 2 weeks, if an in-field teacher is employed and the transfer does not violate maximum class size. If request is denied, school must notify the parent and specify the reasons for the denial. Explanation of transfer process must be in student handbook. Parent does not have right to choose specific teacher.
High School Diploma Requirements – bill lines 1766-1806
Provides that school board or charter school may offer students options to satisfy online course requirements including completion of course in which student earns industry certification in information technology and including passage of online content assessment, without enrollment in or completion of corresponding course, etc.
Virtual Instruction Program – bill lines 2328-2411
Revises requirements for low performing virtual instruction program providers.
Acceleration Options – bill lines 2424-2443
Modifies CAP Program to include courses required for high school graduation through passage of EOC assessment, AP Exam, or CLEP.
Requires a district to award credit to student not enrolled in the course or who has not completed the course if student attains passing score on EOC, AP, or CLEP.
o Mandates that home education students be permitted to take assessment or exam.
Adults with Disabilities Workforce Education Program – bill lines 2444-2552
Amends statute to no longer be a pilot program and repeals expiration date.
Extracurricular Activities/Athletics – bill lines 477-486, 595-612, 2553-3023, 3747-3867
Mandates that a school district or charter school not delay or otherwise prevent a student participating in controlled open enrollment, or a choice program, from being immediately eligible to participate in interscholastic and intrascholastic extracurricular activities.
Requires that school boards establish a code of conduct that outlines eligibility standards for student-athletes within the district.
States that charter schools and private schools are also charged with applying the same elements of the code with the governing board being responsible for administration.
The code must include the following points:
1. A student not suspended or expelled is eligible to participate in interscholastic athletics
2. A student may not participate in any interscholastic or intrascholastic activity if the student participated in that same sport at another school during the same school year, unless the student has:
o Been relocated due to foster care placement
o Experienced the death of a parent or guardian
o Been impacted by military orders or court-ordered changes in custody
3. A student’s eligibility to participate in interscholastic or intrascholastic activity may not be affected by recruiting allegations until a final determination has been reached.
Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, harsher recruiting penalties for school district employees or contractors will go into effect with those found to be guilty of a recruiting violation receiving a $5,000 forfeiture of pay for the first offense, suspension without pay from coaching, directing or advertising an extracurricular activity along with a $5,000 forfeiture of pay for the second offense, and potential for revoking educator’s certificate and adjunct teaching certificates along with $5,000 forfeiture of pay for the third offense.
Mandates that private schools have the option of maintaining full membership in the Association or joining on a per-sport basis. FHSAA may allow public school the option to apply for consideration to join another athletic association.
Removes authority of school board to approve student transfers/eligibility.
Defines “eligible to participate” to include student participating in tryouts, off-season conditioning, summer workouts, etc. Does not mean that student must be placed on any specific team.
Mandates that a private school student may participate in a sport at public high school, etc. if the private school in which the student is enrolled is not a member of FHSAA.
Retains FHSAA’s jurisdiction over membership in FHSAA, recruiting prohibitions and violations; etc.
Requires FHSAA to adopt and prominently publish, the text of this section on its website and in its bylaws, etc. by August 1, 2016.
Establishes ineligibility determinations made by preponderance of evidence rather than clear and convincing evidence.
Benacquisto Scholarship Program bill lines 3075-3179
Renames the Florida National Merit Scholar Incentive program the Benacquisto Scholarship Program.
Double Session Schools Clarification/School Funding – bill lines 3180-3220, 3332-3567, 3612-3654
Ensures that double session schools or schools utilizing the experimental calendar are funded based on number of instructional hours provided.
Provides for recalculation of ESE Guaranteed Allocation once during the year based on the actual student membership from the October FTE survey.
Authorizes equitable distribution of bonus funds awarded for dual enrollment courses by which student earns certain certifications.
Provides bonuses for students taught by teachers who provide instruction in course that led to attainment of CAPE industry certification, etc. Increases Bonus award cap to $3,000.
Federally Connected Student Supplement – bill lines 3568-3611
Creates the Federally Connected Student Supplement.
Pledge of Allegiance Notification – bill lines 4017-4047
Authorizes notification of right of student to not recite pledge of allegiance to be published in student handbook or similar publication.
Suicide Awareness Program – bill lines 3706-3746
Creates statute and authorizes training in youth suicide awareness and prevention training materials for instructional personnel in elementary, middle and high school. If 2 hours of training is provided a school may be considered a “Suicide Prevention Certified School.”
DOE shall keep records on all Suicide Prevention Certified Schools.
No cause of action for any loss or damage may result from implementing this section and a new duty of care or basis of liability is not created.
SBE may adopt rules to implement this section.
Reemployment of Retired Teachers – bill lines 3929-3943
Clarifies that a retired teacher may interrupt retirement and be reemployed in any public school as instructional personnel under a 1-year probationary contract.
States that if the employee successfully completes probationary contract, the school board may reemploy retiree under an annual contract. The retiree is not eligible for a professional service contract.
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation – bill lines 3944-4016
Requires performance improvement plan no later than October 1, 2016.
Special Facilities – bill lines 2000-2280
Revises requirements for the Special Facility Construction Committee.
Prohibits subsequent employment of consultants who prepared the survey.
Educator Certification/ Private School professional preparation – bill lines 3684-3705
Authorizes charter schools to develop a professional development system to meet requirements for professional preparation and education competence.
Florida Seal of Biliteracy Program – bill lines 4048-4147
Establishes program for recognizing students who achieve specified performance requirements in English language arts and a foreign language during high school.
University System Issues 379-417, 1448-1765,
Distinguished Florida College System Program – Collaborative partnership established between SBE and Legislature to recognize excellence of highest-performing Florida College system institution.
Amends State University System Performance-Based Incentive.
Effective Date: Unless otherwise noted in the bill, effect on July 1, 2016.
Status: Enrolled text filed.