Today, the Florida Senate is expected to vote on the biggest education bill of this year’s legislative session.
A contentious teachers union certification proposal might overshadow the rest of HB 7055.
But the bill also contains a wide range of provisions related to charter schools and educational choice. Here’s a rundown of what the Senate’s proposed rewrite would do.
High-performing charter schools would be able to replicate — meaning, open a similar school in a new location — twice a year, rather than just once. Last year, HB 7069 allowed high-performing charters to replicate more than once if they opened new schools in the vicinity of a persistently struggling public school.
In addition, the bill would place new legal standards on school boards that want to close charters. They would only be able to shut down charters for “material” violations of state law, rather than any law violations. School districts could still to shutter charters for financial problems, or for failing to meet academic goals. But they would have to appear before the state Division of Administrative Hearings before closing a charter school. This issue was the subject of some debate on the Senate floor.
Florida’s principal autonomy pilot program would be a pilot no more. It would be open to any school district in the state.
And principals granted autonomy through the program could manage entire networks of schools, known as “innovation zones.” The networks would operate within their districts and be exempt from many state education regulations. These schools would not be overseen by independent boards beyond the reach of their school district, as previous versions of the legislation contemplated.
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