Budget deal: Leaders of the Florida Senate and House reach an agreement on an $83 billion budget, and the Legislature will vote on it Monday. Gov. Rick Scott didn’t rule out a veto, saying the budget was done in secrecy and doesn’t have enough tax cuts or money for education. Details of the bill are sketchy, but it does include a $200 million fund to help struggling schools and to recruit charter school companies into the state – the so-called “schools of hope” plan – and $213 million for educator bonuses. Tampa Bay Times. Associated Press. News Service of Florida. Naples Daily News. Lakeland Ledger. Politico Florida. Also included in the budget is $500 million for the Public Education Capital Outlay program, with $50 million each going to public schools and charter schools for maintenance projects, and $57 million for specific school projects in smaller counties. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida.
Title I funding: School district leaders from around the state continue to lobby the Legislature about the proposal to change the way federal Title I funding will be distributed. Legislators are proposing bills (S.B. 1362 and H.B. 7101) that would spread out the funds among more schools, including charter schools. Critics say doing so will starve the very schools that need the money the most. Neither bill has a scheduled hearing in the Senate. Gradebook. The Polk County School District could lose $15 million if the proposed split of federal Title I funds between traditional public schools and charter schools is approved, says district budget director Jason Pitts. Lakeland Ledger.
Testing changes: Work continues on the bill to reform school testing in the state. Support for the Senate bill chosen to move forward is tepid, with many senators complaining the bill does little to reduce the number of tests students take. Negotiations continue to consider details that could broaden support. Also in the bill is the proposal to require daily recess for elementary school students. Miami Herald. Continue Reading →