By Brandon Larrabee
News Service of Florida
The chorus of voices calling for Gov. Rick Scott to veto a controversial education bill — and perhaps part of the state budget for public schools — grew Tuesday, even as supporters tried to push back.
Two of the state’s major education organizations — the Florida School Boards Association and the Florida Association of District School Superintendents — sent letters to Scott on Tuesday asking him to nix a wide-ranging schools bill (HB 7069) unveiled on the next-to-last business day of the 2017 legislative session.
The superintendents went a step further and called on Scott to use his line-item veto to strike the Florida Education Finance Program, or FEFP, a move that would essentially force the Legislature to pass a new education budget. The FEFP comprises the majority of state and local funding that flows to public schools.
The letters from the two organizations came on top of calls from the Florida Education Association, the state’s main teachers union, for Scott to take dramatic action on HB 7069, a sweeping measure covering everything from school uniforms and sunscreen to teacher bonuses and recess.
The measure is perhaps best known for its inclusion of a funding program for “schools of hope,” including charter schools in areas with academically struggling traditional schools, and an expansion of the “Best and Brightest” teacher bonus system.
The school boards association was particularly blistering about the way that the bill was put together in budget negotiations between the House and Senate. The legislation emerged as a “conforming bill,” tied to the budget and essentially subject only to an up-or-down vote. Continue Reading →