Senate Committee on Education Pre-K – 12
ETHICS IN EDUCATION
CS/CS/CS/SB 1712 — Ethics in Education Act
by Education Pre-K – 12 Appropriations Committee; Governmental Operations Committee; Education Pre-K – 12 Committee; and Senators Carlton, Gaetz, and Lynn
The bill establishes comprehensive changes at the state and local level regarding the screening, hiring, and termination policies for educators and the reporting procedures related to allegations of educator misconduct.
Background Screening Each school district, charter school, and private school that accepts scholarship students under certain state programs must to screen potential applicants for instructional personnel and school-based administrator positions by contacting previous employers, reviewing the certification history of the individual through the Department of Education certification website, and performing criminal history records checks on these individuals. The bill establishes a list of crimes that would disqualify an individual, if convicted, from obtaining or retaining a teaching certificate or instructional employment involving direct contact with students.
Immediate Suspension and Reassignment from Classroom or School A school district superintendent must immediately suspend and reassign instructional personnel or school-based administrators from direct contact with students upon an allegation of misconduct involving the health, safety, or welfare of students.
Confidentiality Agreements Prohibited Schools are prohibited from entering into confidentiality agreements when terminating an employee when the termination is based in whole or in part on the misconduct of the individual, which affects the health, safety, or welfare of students. Schools are also prohibited from providing a reference to a prospective employer without disclosing such misconduct.
Penalties and Sanctions The bill includes significant financial penalties and teacher-certification sanctions for non-compliance. District school superintendents and school personnel that fail to report misconduct of instructional personnel and school-based administrators, which affects the health, safety, or welfare of students would also be subject to certification penalties.
The bill provides that any public officer or employee convicted of certain sex-related offenses on minors within the scope of his or her duties would forfeit his or her right to any state retirement benefits, except for an individual's accumulated contributions up to the time of the conviction.
Education Practices Commission The bill revises the membership of the Education Practices Commission to include sworn law enforcement officers, parents of public school students, and an administrator of a private school. The authority of the commission is expanded to include discipline of an educator who knowingly fails to report suspected or actual child abuse or misconduct by an educator. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
SCHOOL STANDARDS, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND GRADING
CS/SB 1908 — State Curriculum Standards, Accountability, and High School Grades
by Education Pre-K – 12 Committee and Senators Gaetz, Lynn, and Wise
School Grading Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, the bill revises the high school grading formula to reduce the FCAT component of a high school's grade to 50 percent of the grade and adds the school's graduation rate, at-risk student graduation rate, postsecondary readiness rate, and the participation and performance of students on demanding coursework such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual enrollment, Advanced International Certificate of Education, and industry certification in a career and professional academy as the remaining 50 percent of a school's grade.
The bill revises the assignment of grades to alternative schools by requiring that the grade of a student assigned to an alternative school is credited to the school for which the student is assigned. The bill also makes school performance more accessible to the public by reducing the minimum number of student scores required to calculate a school grade or rating while protecting student identity.
The bill expands the number of schools eligible for School Recognition Program funding by awarding funds to schools that increase more than one school grade in a given year and maintain that performance the following year.
State Curriculum Standards The bill provides for the revision of Florida's K-12 curriculum standards to include collaboration with renowned experts in content area and subject related fields. The standards revised to date and those scheduled for completion within the next three years would be renamed the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.
Statewide Assessments and Preparation The Commissioner of Education is authorized to adopt rigorous end-of-course assessments for secondary courses and provide for the transition to a more comprehensive and cost-effective state writing assessment. The bill also establishes parameters for statewide testing dates to require the latest possible date for test administration and the earliest possible date for the return of test scores.
The Department of Education must select an assessment to evaluate the postsecondary readiness of certain students, and districts must provide remediation to those students before they graduate and enter college.
The bill prohibits school districts from interrupting a student's regular day of instruction to engage in test taking practices for the statewide assessment with certain exceptions.
High School Graduation The bill authorizes students to earn credit in practical arts for purposes of meeting the fine arts requirements for high school graduation. Beginning with the 2008-2009 school year, students may earn a differentiated diploma that indicates their achievement in certain demanding coursework and college credit.
Teacher Stipends and Certification The bill revises provisions for the Teachers Lead Program Stipend to clarify eligible expenditures, deadlines for distribution of funds to teachers, and options available for the allocation and expenditure of program funds. The bill provides additional options for teacher certification candidates to demonstrate mastery of subject area knowledge in certain foreign languages.
School Cafeteria Reports The bill requires the posting of school cafeteria sanitation and safety reports in a public location in the school cafeteria. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008, except as otherwise provided.
SCHOOL SAFETY AND WELLNESS
HB 669 — School Safety
by Reps. N. Thompson, Bogdanoff, Aubuchon, and others (CS/SB 790 by Criminal Justice Committee and Senators Baker, Dockery, Bennett, Lynn, and Rich)
The bill creates the "Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act" and prohibits the bullying or harassment of any public K-12 student or employee during a public K-12 education program or activity; during a school-related or school-sponsored program or activity; on a public K-12 school bus; or through a public K-12 computer, computer system, or computer network.
The Department of Education must adopt a model bullying and harassment policy by October 1, 2008. By December 1, 2008, each school district is required to adopt a bullying and harassment policy in substantial conformity with the department's model policy, and include students, parents, teachers, administrators, school staff, volunteers, community representatives, and local law enforcement agencies in the development of the district's policy.
For the 2009-2010 school year, each school district's Safe Schools funding is contingent upon the department's approval of the district's bullying and harassment policy. To obtain approval, the district policy must substantially conform with the department's policy. Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, a school district's annual allocation of Safe Schools funding is contingent upon the district's compliance with reporting requirements for bullying and harassment incidents, the investigation of such incidents, and the steps taken by the district in response.
The Commissioner of Education must submit an annual report to the Governor and Legislature to include data on district reports of bullying and harassment.
The bill provides limited civil immunity for a school employee, volunteer, student, or parent who reports bullying or harassment in good faith. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect upon becoming law.
CS/CS/SB 610 — The Don Davis Physical Education Act
by Education Pre-K – 12 Appropriations Committee; Education Pre-K – 12 Committee; and Senator Constantine
This bill is named for the late Representative Don Davis of Jacksonville, who was the sponsor of this legislation in the House of Representatives. This bill requires each district school board to include in its written physical education policy the benefits of physical education and the availability of one-on-one counseling to parents concerning the benefits. In addition to current requirements for the provision of 150 minutes of physical education each week to students in kindergarten through grade 5, the bill requires each school board to provide such education to students in grade 6 who are enrolled in a school that also contains one or more elementary grades. On any day when such physical education instruction is provided there must be at least 30 consecutive minutes of instruction.
Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, district school boards must provide the equivalent of one class period per day of physical education for one semester of each year for students enrolled in grades 6 through 8. This requirement must be waived for students who are enrolled in a remedial course or whose parents request a waiver under certain conditions. School districts are required to notify parents of the waiver options before scheduling a student to participate in physical education. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
CS/HB 623 — School Breakfast Programs
by Schools and Learning Council and Rep. Kendrick and others (CS/CS/SB 1458 by Education Pre-K – 12 Appropriations Committee; Education Pre-K – 12 Committee; and Senators Wise, Gaetz, Fasano, and Siplin)
Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, school districts are required to make a school breakfast available to middle and high school students. School districts are already required to make the breakfast available to elementary school students.
Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, each school district is required to annually set prices for breakfast meals at a level that, when combined with federal reimbursement, would cover the costs of the breakfast meals. School districts may, however, set lower prices. Each school district is also required to provide students and parents with information about the district's school breakfast program.
Each school, to the maximum extent practicable, must serve breakfast at alternative sites in order to expand access. Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, a school must make
alternative breakfast options available to students who arrive by school bus at school less than 15 minutes before the first bell rings and allow the students at least 15 minutes to eat the breakfast.
The bill also encourages school districts to provide universal-free school breakfast in all schools and requires district school boards, by the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, to consider a policy for providing universal-free school breakfast for all students in schools in which 80 percent or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
The bill directs the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, by January 15, 2009, to issue a report that evaluates the implementation costs of universal-free school breakfast, examines school meal prices and the efficiency and effectiveness of school district food service programs, and identifies best practices and strategies for reducing food service costs. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
SCHOOL AND PROGRAM CHOICE
CS/CS/SB 1906 — Alternative Credit High School Courses
by Education Pre-K – 12 Appropriations Committee; Education Pre-K – 12 Committee; and Senators Gaetz and Lynn
The bill creates a pilot program to provide opportunities for high school students enrolled in rigorous career academies to simultaneously earn credit in specific math and science courses without taking the math or science course.
High school students enrolled in career and professional academies would earn credit for Integrated Math 1 and 2, Algebra 1a and 1b, Algebra 1, Geometry, and Biology, provided the standards and essential concepts of these courses are included in their career coursework and the students can verify mastery of the core content on approved end-of-course-assessments. The bill provides that students who attain scores that verify mastery of content on the end-of-course assessments would earn the district additional funding within the funding caps provided by law.
The bill authorizes the Palm Beach County school district to conduct a pilot program to recognize business partners by publicly displaying the businesses' names on school district property in unincorporated areas. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
CS/CS/CS/HB 653 — Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program
by Policy and Budget Council; Schools and Learning Council; and Rep. Traviesa and others (CS/CS/SB 1440 by Education Pre-K – 12 Appropriations Committee; Education Pre-K – 12 Committee; and Senators Gaetz, Lawson, King; Storms, Baker, Crist; Posey, Oelrich, Saunders, Fasano, Peaden, Siplin, Wise, Bennett, Dockery, Haridopolos, Alexander, and Garcia)
For the Corporate Income Tax Credit (CTC) Scholarship Program, the bill revises the scholarship eligibility criteria to allow the participation of the sibling of a scholarship student and students who are placed in foster care. The bill also makes the following changes to the provisions of the CTC scholarship program:
• Increases the current maximum scholarship award amount from $3,750 to $3,950, beginning with FY 2008-2009;
• Requires an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization (SFO) to annually expend at least 75 percent, rather than obligate 100 percent of the eligible contributions received in that fiscal year;
• Authorizes SFOs to retain up to 3 percent of contributions for reasonable and necessary administrative expenses;
• Provides that only SFOs that have been in operation for three years and do not have any negative financial findings are eligible for the administrative fee;
• Limits the amount of the administrative fee that can be expended on recruitment of additional contributions to one-third of the administrative fee;
• Removes the limitation on interest being used for scholarships;
• Increases the $88 million maximum tax credit by $30 million to $118 million beginning with FY 2008-2009;
• Provides that contributions in excess of carryforward at the end of the state fiscal year revert to General Revenue; and
• Eliminates the current reserve of at least 1 percent of the maximum tax credit for small businesses.
The bill requires the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) to provide a report to the Governor and Legislature by December 1, 2008, which reviews the advisability and net state fiscal impact of increasing the maximum annual amount of credits for the corporate income tax and authorizing the use of credits for insurance premium taxes as an additional source of funding for the scholarship program. The bill also requires OPPAGA to make recommendations, if warranted, for strategies to encourage scholarship students to participate in the statewide assessment program.
If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect June 30, 2008.
CS/CS/SB 242 — Single-gender Schools, Classes, and Programs
by Judiciary Committee; Education Pre-K – 12 Committee; and Senators Wise and Fasano
This bill (Chapter 2008-26, L.O.F.) authorizes district school boards to establish and maintain a single-gender nonvocational class, extracurricular activity, or school for elementary, middle, or high school students if the school district also makes available a substantially equally single-gender class, extracurricular activity, or school to students of the other gender and a coeducational class, extracurricular activity, or school to all students.
District school boards that elect to establish a single-gender class, extracurricular activity, or school may not require participation by any student, and must ensure that student participation is voluntary. Additionally, a district school board that establishes a single-gender class, extracurricular activity, or school must evaluate the class, activity, or school every two years in order to ensure compliance with state and federal requirements. These provisions became law without the Governor's signature and take effect July 1, 2008.
SB 642 — School/Multiple Birth Siblings/Classroom Placement
by Senators Siplin, Ring, and Baker
The bill provides for parents to request the placement of multiple birth siblings in the same or separate classrooms in the same grade level. A school must grant the parent's request unless the student's performance indicates otherwise or if it would require the district to add another class to the students' grade level. The bill provides for a principal to change the student's placement if his or her behavior is disruptive to the school. A parent may appeal the principal's decision.
The bill specifies that these provisions do not apply to the rights or obligations of students with disabilities or the removal of students pursuant to disciplinary policies. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
CS/HB 251 — School Access for Junior or Senior Officers' Training Corps
by Schools and Learning Council and Rep. Jordan and others (CS/CS/SB 574 by Higher Education Committee; Military Affairs and Domestic Security Committee; and Senators Baker, Gaetz, Bennett, and Lynn)
This bill prohibits a school district from banning the establishment, maintenance, or operation of a unit of the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) at a public high school. A student who attends a high school that does not offer JROTC for any branch of the United States Armed Forces or the United States Department of Homeland Security, and who meets the minimum qualifications for enrollment in one of these programs, may enroll in the JRTOC program at another public high school, if the student's courses do not conflict with the schedule of the other school's JROTC program. However, school districts are not required to provide transportation for a student who elects the option to enroll in JRTOC at another high school.
This bill also enhances access for military recruiters to school campuses, students, and student information. School districts must grant military recruiters from the United States Armed Forces and the United States Department of Homeland Security the same access to secondary school students, and to school facilities and grounds, that the district grants to postsecondary educational institutions or prospective employers of students. School districts must also grant military recruiters access to the names, addresses, and telephone listings of secondary school students. However, the district must comply with a student's or parent's request under state or federal law to not release such directory information.
Finally, the bill addresses the presence of the Senior Reserve Officers' Training Corps and military recruiters on community college and state university campuses, as well as access by such military recruiters to the information of community college or state university students. Community colleges and state universities may not prohibit Senior Reserve Officers' Training Corps from being established, maintained, or operated at such institutions. Additionally, military recruiters from the United States Armed Forces and the United States Department of Homeland Security must receive the same access to the college's or university's students, and to campus facilities, which the college or university grants to other employers. A community college or state university must grant military recruiters access to information regarding the names, addresses, telephone listings, dates and places of birth, levels of education, academic majors, most recent educational institutions enrolled in, and degrees received of the students of the community college or state university to the extent provided by federal law. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
CS/HB 1203 — Educational Opportunity for Military Children
by Schools and Learning Council and Rep. Proctor and others (CS/SB 2546 by Education Pre-K – 12 Committee and Senators Storms, Baker, Diaz de la Portilla, Alexander, Fasano, Villalobos, Bennett, Constantine, Crist, Dean, Gaetz, and Wise)
The bill creates the Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which is designed to assist the educational continuity of students whose parents are military service members. The compact also provides for the creation of an Interstate Commission on Educational Opportunity for Military Children to provide general oversight of the agreement, create and enforce rules governing the compact's operation, and provide a venue for solving interstate issues and disputes. The bill authorizes the Governor to designate a Compact Commissioner and Military Family Education Liaison and creates the State Advisory Council to make recommendations for compliance with the compact.
The compact applies to children of the following: active duty members of the uniformed services, including members of the National Guard and Reserve on active duty orders; members or veterans of the uniformed services who are severely injured and medically discharged or retired for a period of one year after medical discharge or retirement; and members of the uniformed services who die on active duty or as a result of injuries sustained on active duty for a period of one year after death.
The compact provides for the following:
• Provides that schools must share educational records in a timely manner and allows the sending school to provide the parent with an unofficial copy that may be used until the official record is verified;
• Provides specific timelines for students to obtain required immunizations in the receiving state; and
• Provides that a student must be allowed to continue his or her enrollment at grade level in the receiving state commensurate with the student's grade level in the sending state at the time of transition.
Placement • Provides that when a student transfers before or during the school year, the receiving state school must initially honor placement of the student in educational courses, based on the student's enrollment in the sending state's school or educational assessments conducted at the school in the sending state if the courses are offered; however, the school in the receiving state may perform subsequent evaluations to ensure appropriate placement and continued enrollment;
- Requires the receiving state to initially provide comparable services to a student with disabilities based on his or her current Individual Education Plan; however, the school in the receiving state may perform subsequent evaluations to ensure appropriate placement;
• Provides school districts with flexibility in waiving course or program prerequisites, or other preconditions for placement in courses or programs offered under the jurisdiction of the district; and
• Provides that a student whose parent is an active duty member of the uniformed services and has been called to duty, is on leave from active duty, or has immediately returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting, must be granted additional excused absences at the discretion of the district superintendent to visit with his or her parent prior to the leave or deployment.
Graduation • Requires school districts to waive specific courses required for graduation if similar course work has been satisfactorily completed in another state; • Requires districts to provide an alternative means of acquiring required coursework for the student to graduate on time, if a waiver is not granted to a student who would qualify to graduate from the sending school; • Requires states to accept exit or end-of-course exams required for graduation from the sending state, national norm-referenced achievement tests, or alternative testing, in lieu of testing requirements for graduation in the receiving state; and • Requires the sending and receiving districts to ensure the receipt of a diploma from the sending district, if the student transfers in his or her senior year, is ineligible to graduate from the receiving district after considering all alternatives, and meets the graduation requirements of the sending district. The act sunsets two years following the effective date of the act or upon enactment of the interstate compacts, whichever occurs later. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008, or upon enactment of the compact into law by nine other states, whichever date occurs later.
CS/CS/SB 526 — Interscholastic Extracurricular Activities
by Education Pre-K – 12 Appropriations Committee; Education Pre-K – 12 Committee; and Senators Wise and Lynn
Beginning in the 2008-2009 school year in Bradford, Duval and Nassau school districts, a 2-year pilot program is established to permit a middle or high school student enrolled in a private school to participate in intrascholastic and interscholastic sports at a public school, if the student is zoned for the public school, the private school does not provide an intrascholastic or interscholastic program, and the school is not a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA).
To be eligible to participate at a public high school, middle school, or a grades 6-12 school, the student must meet certain conditions, including requirements for standards of conduct and student academic performance.
The bill also provides an exemption from civil liability arising out of an injury that occurs during the private school student's transportation to and from his or her public school. A report, including recommendations, must be made by the FHSAA and the participating school districts to the Governor and the legislative presiding officers by January 1, 2010. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect upon becoming law.
CS/SB 1414 — Supplemental Educational Services
by Education Pre-K – 12 Committee and Senators Diaz de la Portilla and Lynn
The bill tasks the Department of Education (DOE) with annually designating a performance grade of "A," "B," "C," "D," or "F," for each state-approved Supplemental Educational Services (SES) provider, based on a combination of student learning gains and student proficiency levels, as measured by the statewide assessment and norm-referenced tests approved by the DOE for students in kindergarten through grade 3. Under the bill, a grade is assigned beginning with the 2007-2008 school year and must be reported to parents, SES providers, school districts, and the public.
The bill limits the facility rental fee that Miami Dade County School District may charge a state-approved SES provider. The fee is limited to only the hours that a classroom is used by the provider to tutor students. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
EXCEPTIONAL STUDENT AWARENESS
CS/SB 856 — Disability History and Awareness
by Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee and Senators Fasano and Wilson
The bill requires district school boards to designate "Disability History and Awareness Weeks" during the first two weeks in October of each year and authorizes school boards to provide disability history and awareness instruction in kindergarten through grade 12 during those weeks. The instruction may be integrated into the existing school curriculum. The bill encourages state postsecondary institutions to conduct and promote activities related to disability history and awareness. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
CS/HB 1313 — Students with Disabilities
by Schools and Learning Council and Rep. Precourt (CS/CS/SB 2700 by Education Pre-K – 12 Appropriations Committee; Higher Education Committee; and Senator Wise)
The bill revises the definition of an "exceptional student" to conform to federal law or accepted practice by amending the following provisions of the Florida K-20 Education Code relating to students with disabilities:
• Eligibility requirements for special programs for students with disabilities;
• Eligibility requirements for special programs and related services for children with disabilities who are three years of age or older (preschool children) and for children with disabilities who are younger than three years of age (infants and toddlers);
• Special high school graduation requirements for students with disabilities;
• Substitute admission, graduation, and upper level division requirements of public postsecondary educational institutions for students with disabilities; and
• Student eligibility requirements for the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program.
The bill also eliminates a provision that prohibits direct medical intervention or pharmaceutical intervention at any regional autism center effective July 1, 2008.
If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
HB 879 — The Success in Early Learning Act
by Rep. Kelly and others (CS/CS/CS/CS/SB 1670 by Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee; Commerce Committee; Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee; Education Pre-K – 12 Committee; and Senators Gaetz and Lynn)
This bill revises statutes governing publicly-funded educational programs for young children, as follows:
• Early learning coalition boards are authorized to engage in board business by telecommunication methods;
• Responsibility for the statewide child care resource and referral network and the Child Care Executive Partnership Program are transferred from the Department of Children and Family Services to the Agency for Workforce Innovation to conform to current practice;
• The chair or executive director of a Children's Service Council or Juvenile Welfare Board may be a voting member of an Early Learning Coalition that rents office space, vehicles, equipment, or other items from the council or board, provided the rental is the only financial transaction between the coalition and the board;
• Voluntary prekindergarten program providers are authorized to employ substitute instructors to temporarily replace credentialed instructors, if they are of good moral character and meet the requirements of level 2 background screening before employment; and
• A private provider of the voluntary prekindergarten program must be accredited by an association with written accreditation standards that meet or exceed the state's licensing standards. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION
CS/CS/SB 1276 — Educational Facilities Construction
by Education Facilities Appropriations Committee; Education Pre-K – 12 Committee; and Senator Bennett
The bill increases the threshold for day-labor contracts from $200,000 to $280,000 for the construction, renovation, remodeling, or maintenance of educational facilities and requires, beginning January 2009, that the amount shall be adjusted annually based upon changes in the Consumer Price Index. This provision applies to district school boards, community college boards of trustees, university boards of trustees, and the Board of Trustees for the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
The bill provides districts, with conversion charter schools that are not compliant with class size reduction, flexibility to use up to $65 per unweighted full-time equivalent student funding under the 1.75-mill discretionary capital outlay levy for operational purposes if certain conditions are met.
The bill also provides an exception to the planning process for Florida Keys Community College in Monroe County to authorize the construction of dormitories for up to 100 beds for full-time or part-time students on the community college campus. The construction of the dormitories is exempt from the building permit allocation system and may be constructed up 45 feet in height, if the following conditions are met:
• The dormitories are otherwise consistent with the comprehensive plan;
• The community college has a hurricane evacuation plan that requires all dormitory occupants to be evacuated 48 hours in advance of tropical force winds; and
• Transportation is provided for dormitory occupants during an evacuation.
If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008
SENATE Education Pre-K – 12 Appropriations
HB 7067 — Virtual Education
by Schools and Learning Council and Rep. Pickens and others (CS/SB 1752 by Education Pre-K – 12 Appropriations Committee and Senators Wise and Lynn) This bill authorizes school district virtual instruction programs for funding through the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP). The bill:
• Designates school district virtual instruction programs as components of public K-12 schools, lists them as educational choice options and as open enrollment options;
• Beginning with the 2009-10 school year, requires school districts to provide students with the option of participating in school district virtual instruction programs;
• Provides that school district virtual instruction programs shall use online and distance learning technology for students in grades K to 8 on a full-time basis and for high school students on a part-time or full-time basis;
• Provides that a school district program may consist of one or more schools operated by the district, by contracted providers approved by the Department of Education (DOE), or through multi-district contractual agreements;
• Provides that charter schools may enter into joint agreements with the district to participate in a program;
• Authorizes the DOE to approve eligible providers by March 1 of each year;
• Establishes provider qualifications, including state-located administrative offices and staff, certified teachers, and appropriate accreditation;
• Grandfathers in the existing K-8 Virtual School providers and exempts them from new provider qualifications;
• Establishes program requirements to include the use of certified teachers, alignment with Sunshine State Standards, background screening of employees, provision of instructional materials, equipment and internet access, when appropriate, for full-time students in households, and no tuition or fees;
• Beginning in 2010-2011, does not allow growth in enrollment if the program earns less than a grade of "C" in the prior year;
• Limits enrollment to students who, in the prior year, were enrolled in a public school or in a school district virtual instruction program, or who are dependents of a member of the armed services;
• Requires school districts to report virtual instruction students as full-time equivalents in basic programs for grades K to 8 who complete the coursework and are promoted to the next grade level, and in basic or English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs for high school students in Department of Juvenile Justice or dropout prevention programs who earn six credit completions for funding in the FEFP;
• For 2008-2009, provides that a school district may offer its own district virtual instruction program or contract with K-8 providers under s. 1002.415, F.S., or for grades 9 to 12, with providers who contracted with a regional consortium for 2007-2008 for students in Department of Juvenile Justice and dropout prevention programs;
- Requires school district virtual instruction programs, not including the Florida Virtual School, to be included in the state assessment and accountability system and to receive a school grade;
• Requires school district programs to be terminated if they receive a "D" or an "F" for two of any four consecutive years and requires the DOE to select a new provider;
• Clarifies that digital or online content providers that are used to supplement instruction in regular district (seat-time) schools are exempt from the requirements of the bill; and
• Exempts the school district virtual instruction programs, the Florida Virtual School, and the K-8 Virtual Schools from class size requirements by amending the "core-curricula courses" definition. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
HB 5083 — Education
by Policy and Budget Council and Rep. Sansom (CS/SB 1746 by Education Pre-K – 12 Appropriations Committee and Senator Wise)
This bill revises public school funding statutes to conform them to the General Appropriations Act (GAA). The bill:
• Removes the requirement for the norm-referenced portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT);
• Allows for pro-ration of the regional consortia state supplement;
• Prohibits districts from withholding a portion of the Merit Award Program payment from charter schools;
• Clarifies the Full Time Equivalent (FTE) reporting requirement for dual enrollment courses;
• Makes the FTE bonus for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced International Certificate of Education programs twice the level of funding for the course;
• Removes the middle school Algebra I bonus from the funding formula;
• Limits the industry certification bonus to students who earn a high school diploma, to .3 FTE per student, and to $15 million annually;
• Makes the fourth calculation of the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) the final calculation of the Required Local Effort for the fiscal year;
• Makes the Declining Enrollment funding percentage an amount to be determined in the GAA;
• Provides school districts with additional fiscal flexibility by allowing categorical program funds, including the reading allocation and instructional materials, to be spent for classroom instruction in certain limited cases, for 2008-09 only;
• Continues the school-level compliance standard for class size reduction for 2008-09;
• Provides a shift of 0.25 mills from the 2 mill capital outlay discretionary levy to the Required Local Effort of the FEFP and provides a protection for the issuance of certificates of participation;
• Allows school districts, if they certify that they have met class size reduction requirements and have met all instructional space capital outlay needs for the next five years with expected capital outlay funding, to use up to $65 per FTE of capital millage revenue for purchase/lease-purchase of certain vehicles or payment of casualty and property insurance premiums for 2008-09 only;
• Allows school districts to submit Merit Award Program plans for 2008-09 by October 1, 2008;
• Requires prototype design and construction when a school district is building multiple schools in a 5-year period;
• For the Excellent Teaching Program, maintains the payments for the teacher certification bonuses; removes the requirement for funding the application and portfolio fees and the FRS contribution payment; limits bonuses to one 10-year period; and retains the mentoring bonus, if funds are provided. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
Senate Committee on Higher Education
STATE COLLEGE SYSTEM
CS/CS/SB 1716 — The Florida College System
by Higher Education Appropriations Committee; Higher Education Committee; and Senators Oelrich, Gaetz, and Lynn
The Florida College System This bill creates the Florida College System comprised of public postsecondary educational institutions that grant 2-year and 4-year academic degrees at the undergraduate level. The bill permits a community college to change the institution's name and use the term "college," if it has been granted the authority to award baccalaureate degrees or the local board of trustees and the State Board of Education approve the name change. If the State Board of Education approves the name change, the college must enter into an agreement with the State Board to:
• Maintain the college's primary mission of responding to community needs for postsecondary education;
• Maintain an open door policy;
• Provide outreach to underserved populations;
• Provide remedial education; and
• Comply with the statewide articulation agreement that relates to 2-year and 4-year public degree-granting institutions.
The Florida College System Task Force The Florida College System Task Force is established within the Division of Community Colleges in the Department of Education to make recommendations regarding the transition of community colleges to baccalaureate-degree granting colleges and the criteria for establishing and funding state colleges. The Commissioner of Education, who would serve as the chairman of the task force, must appoint 11 members to the task force, including seven community college presidents, one state university president, two presidents of private postsecondary baccalaureate-degree-granting institutions, and one member at large. The community college presidents appointed to the task force may not include the presidents appointed to participate in the State College Pilot Project. The task force must:
• Recommend a program-approval process for new baccalaureate degree programs at a community colleges and at state colleges;
• Recommend a new funding model for these institutions;
• Identify statewide needs for baccalaureate degrees;
• Monitor the State College Pilot Project; and
• Recommend priorities and criteria for baccalaureate programs that may be offered by these institutions without specific approval by the State Board of Education.
By March 2, 2009, the task force must submit a report and recommendations to the Governor, State Board of Education, and Legislative leaders. A recommendation from the task force to the Legislature must be passed by a three-fourths vote of the membership. The task force must submit a final report with recommendations before June 30, 2010, at which time the task force would be dissolved.
The State College Pilot Project The State College Pilot Project is created to recommend to the Legislature:
• An approval process for the transition of baccalaureate-degree granting community colleges to state colleges in order to meet the state's employment needs; • Criteria for institutions in the Florida College System to transition to state colleges; and • A funding model for state colleges. Nine colleges would participate in the pilot project: Chipola College, Daytona Beach College, Edison College, Indian River College, Miami Dade College, Okaloosa-Walton College, Polk College, Santa Fe College, and St. Petersburg College. The participating institutions must:
• Maintain the institution's primary mission to respond to community needs for postsecondary academic education and career education;
• Maintain an open-door admissions policy for associate-level degree programs and workforce education;
• Provide outreach to underserved populations;
• Provide remedial education;
• Comply with all the provisions of the statewide articulation agreement; and
• Deliver the programs in a cost effective manner.
Participating colleges are prohibited from participating in intercollegiate athletics beyond the 2-year level and from offering graduate degrees or graduate credit.
The participating colleges must require successful completion of the college-level communication and mathematics skills examination (CLAST) as a condition for admission to upper division programs unless the student has been awarded an associate degree from a community college or a state university. A student admitted into the upper division program at these institutions must also take the CLAST unless the student has previously obtained a passing score. The participating institutions must report each student's CLAST score to the Florida College System Task Force, State Board of Education, and the Legislature's Office of Program Policy and Government Accountability for the purpose of a longitudinal analysis of the CLAST.
The task force must collaborate with the Florida College System Task Force to make recommendations to the State Board of Education and the Legislature regarding specific issues that should be addressed in the transition of a community college to a state college, provided that any such recommendation is approved by two-thirds of the participating institutions. The final report of the task force must be issued by January 1, 2009.
The bill renames Broward Community College, Daytona Beach Community College, Indian River Community College, Polk Community College, and Santa Fe Community College as Broward College, Daytona Beach College, Indian River College, Polk College, and Santa Fe College, respectively. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
HB 603 — Textbook Affordability
by Rep. Flores and others (CS/SB 2350 by Higher Education Appropriations Committee and Senators Atwater, Haridopolos, Baker, Lynn, and Crist)
This bill requires the State Board of Education (SBE) and the Board of Governors (BOG) to adopt policies by March 1, 2009, to further efforts to minimize the cost of textbooks for community college and state university students. These policies must include:
• Sufficient time for bookstores to confirm textbook availability, including the availability of used books;
• Confirmation, as part of the adoption process, that all required bundled materials would be used;
• Confirmation, as part of the adoption process, of the extent to which the new edition differs substantially from the earlier editions; and
• Ways to provide required textbooks to students who could not otherwise afford them.
The bill prohibits employees of a community college or state university from demanding or receiving any payment or anything of value in exchange for requiring a student to purchase a specific textbook for coursework and instruction. The bill provides exceptions for sample copies, royalties for one's own work, honoraria for review of course materials and supporting materials, and training in the use of course materials. An instructor is prohibited from selling materials that are marked as sample not for resale.
The bill requires community colleges and state universities to post on their websites at least 30 days before the first day of class the books that would be required for each course. The SBE and BOG must adopt policies for textbook notification for classes added after the notification deadline. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
SB 186 — University of South Florida Polytechnic
by Senators Alexander and Baker
This bill designates the Lakeland campus of the University of South Florida (USF) as the "University of South Florida Polytechnic," which would be administered by a separate campus board and executive officer. The campus board would be comprised of four residents of the Polytechnic campus service area appointed by the USF Board of Trustees and one member of the USF Board of Trustees selected by that board. Members of the campus board would have the power to:
• Review and approve an annual legislative budget request to be submitted to the USF Board of Trustees;
• Approve and submit an annual operating plan and budget for review and consultation with the USF Board of Trustees;
• Enter into central support services contracts with the USF Board of Trustees for any services that the Polytechnic campus could not provide more economically, such as payroll processing, accounting, technology, and construction administration; and
• Enter into a central services contract with USF for all legal services.
The bill provides for USF Polytechnic to apply for accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools if separate accreditation is in the best interest of the campus. The campus board would have to ensure that sufficient student enrollment, faculty and administration were in place before requesting that the USF Board of Trustees apply for separate accreditation for USF Polytechnic.
The USF president would appoint the USF Polytechnic campus executive officer. The campus executive officer may:
• Administer campus operations within the annual operating budget as approved by the campus board;
• Recommend to the campus board an annual legislative budget request; an annual campus operating budget; and appropriate services, terms, and conditions for the annual support services contract; and
• Carry out additional responsibilities assigned by the USF president. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
CS/CS/SB 696 — Community College Finance
by Higher Education Appropriations Committee; Higher Education Committee; and Senators Oelrich, Gaetz, and Lynn
Short-term and Long-term Debt Financing The bill revises each community college board of trustees' authority to enter into debt by providing different requirements for short-term and long-term debt. The bill limits the authority of community college district boards of trustees to enter into short-term financing for the purchase, sale, lease, license, or acquisition of goods, materials, and services required by the community college to five years or less. The financing must be subject to an annual appropriation by the board of trustees.
The boards of trustees may incur long-term debt for a term up to seven years, through the use of promissory notes, installment sales agreements, lease-purchase agreements, certificates of participation (COPS), and other long-term financing arrangements backed by authorized capital improvement and fees.
Capital Improvement Fees The bill requires a community college board of trustees to use the Division of Bond Finance to issue long term revenue bonds pledged by capital improvement fees. The division may pledge capital improvement fees collected by participating community colleges to secure the bonds. The community college district boards of trustees are not required to use the division if the board pledges capital improvement fee revenues for the repayment of debt of less than seven years in duration.
Community College Operating Revenue The bill provides that revenue bonds may not be secured by or paid from, directly or indirectly, tuition, financial aid fees, the Community College Program Fund, or any other operating revenue of a community college.
Community College Direct-Support Organizations The bill requires a community college board of trustees to authorize all debt incurred by a direct support organization. The board of trustees may delegate short-term loans and lease-purchase agreements to the direct support organization if the terms of the agreements are five years or less. Revenues of a community college may not be pledged to debt issued by a direct support organization.
College Designations The bill also renames Daytona Beach Community College as Daytona Beach College and Indian River Community College as Indian River College. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
Senate Committee on Higher Education Appropriations
CS/CS/HB 745 — Tuition Differential, Professional Program Tuition, and Ad Valorem Taxation for Educational Institutions
by Policy and Budget Council; Schools and Learning Council; and Rep. Precourt and others (CS/SB 1768 by Higher Education Appropriations Committee and Senator Lynn)
The bill revises the eligibility criteria for state universities authorized by the Board of Governors to establish an undergraduate tuition differential, not to exceed 30 percent of tuition, to require only that the institution have research and development expenditures of at least $100 million per year, as reported by the National Science Foundation. Accordingly, these universities would no longer have to meet the 2005 Carnegie Classification as a research university with very high research activity to qualify for the tuition differential.
The bill allows the Board of Governors or their designee to increase the combination of tuition and out-of-state fee for professional programs by a maximum of 15 percent a year, rather than the 10 percent currently in effect.
The bill also clarifies that property owned by educational institutions used exclusively for educational purposes are totally exempt from ad valorem taxation. Mixed use facilities owned by educational institutions, which are predominately used for educational purposes, are to be taxed for ad valorem purposes on a proportionate use basis. If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
CS/HB 7105 — Postsecondary Distance Learning
by Policy and Budget Council; Schools and Learning Council; and Rep. Pickens (CS/CS/SB 1762 by Higher Education Committee; Higher Education Appropriations Committee; and Senator Lynn)
The bill creates the Florida Distance Learning Task Force to study and make recommendations on key distance learning policy issues that will help to increase access to community college and university undergraduate distance learning resources.
The task force is comprised of four representatives from the State University System, four representatives from the Community College System, and the executive director of the Florida Distance Learning Consortium. The task force is charged with submitting a detailed report by March 1, 2009, with recommendations on several key distance learning issues to include:
• Management and promotion of the Distance Learning Catalog.
• Policies that address ways to increase access and cost-effectiveness in developing and delivering distance learning courses.
• A plan for streamlining and expediting the registration process for students enrolling in courses listed in the Florida Higher Education Distance Learning Catalog.
• The future role of the Florida Distance Learning Consortium.
The task force expires July 1, 2009.
The bill also establishes the Florida Higher Education Distance Learning Catalog as a central point of access to distance learning courses, degree programs, and resources offered by the community colleges and state universities.
The bill establishes a per credit hour distance learning course fee, which may be assessed by the community colleges and state universities for distance learning courses listed in the Florida Higher Education Distance Learning Catalog. The distance learning course fee may not exceed the additional costs of the services attributable to the development and delivery of distance learning courses. If a distance learning course fee is assessed, institutions may not assess duplicative fees to cover the additional costs. The community colleges must annually report to the Division of Community Colleges the total amount of revenue generated by the distance learning course fee for the prior academic year and how the revenue was expended.
The bill also requires that institutions must prominently display a link to the Florida Higher Education Distance Learning Catalog on their web site.
If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.
CS/SB 1774 — Postsecondary Student Fees
by Higher Education Appropriations Committee and Senator Lynn
The bill amends the current workforce and community college technology fees to be consistent with the state university technology fee authorized to take effect in the fall semester of FY 2009-2010. The changes to the workforce and community college fees will also take effect in FY 2009-2010.
The bill makes technical changes to workforce and community college student fees to clarify that the out-of-state fee for workforce education programs is an amount three times the standard tuition per contact hour. The bill also adds a grandfather provision to address changes made during the 2007C Special Session that could impact a college's activity and service fee.
The bill amends current statutory provisions relating to student financial aid fees:
• To increase from $250,000 to $500,000 the threshold under which a community college qualifies to assess a 2 percent surcharge on the student financial aid fee; and
• To increase from $300,000 to $600,000 the amount of financial aid fee revenue that may be used for merit, athletic, public service, or other types of non-need based financial aid.
The bill places in statute a requirement for the University of Miami to maintain its current level of services to indigent and charity care patients in order for the university to receive its annual appropriation for the first accredited medical school.
If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2008.