President Office — Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2023
Learn Local: Bills to Cut Red Tape, Support Neighborhood Public Schools Pass First Senate Committee
The Florida Senate Committee on Pre-K – 12 Education, Chaired by Senator Corey Simon (R-Tallahassee), today introduced and passed three committee bills designed to cut red tape and support neighborhood public schools by reducing state regulations in favor of local oversight of neighborhood schools.
“Every year, more and more regulations are put on our school districts. Telling districts what to do and how to do it was supposed to ensure quality and demand accountability, but it can also stifle innovation,” said Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples), who has prioritized efforts to reduce regulations on public schools, while maintaining strong accountability and safety measures. “Reducing bureaucratic red tape will give public schools that have served our communities for generations a meaningful chance to compete right alongside other school choice options that are now available to every child, in every family across our state.”
SPB 7000, Deregulation of Public Schools/Instructional, Administrative, and Support Personnel, led by Senator Alexis Calatayud (R-Miami) provides additional authority to school districts related to teacher certification and training, instructor contracts and salary schedules, personnel evaluations, and collective bargaining.
“Florida public school teachers are an invaluable resource for our state. We know that the impact of just one teacher can motivate and inspire a student, influencing their education, career path, and their whole life. This legislation demonstrates that we are listening. We are supporting our great teachers and other instructional personnel with needed flexibility and other key resources that will help keep our best teachers in the classroom, and assist professionals in other fields who want to pursue a career in teaching,” said Senator Calatayud.
- Providing flexibility in setting salaries for instructional personnel, offering multi-year contracts and personnel evaluation systems.
- Specifying policies for which collective bargaining may not preclude or limit school district activities.
- Streamlining initial and renewal requirements for educator certification, including for VPK teachers.
- Establishing a 10-year renewable professional certificate for teachers who meet certain criteria.
- Expanding eligibility for the teacher apprenticeship program.
- Providing flexibility to school districts in establishing criteria for school bus drivers, CTE instructors and adjunct teachers.
SPB 7002, Deregulation of Public Schools/School District Finance and Budgets, Facilities, and Administration and Oversight, led by Senator Travis Hutson (R-St. Augustine), Dean of the Florida Senate, simplifies financial requirements, enhances facilities management, and advances efficient administrative processes.
“As we reviewed the Education Code this summer, I was shocked by the number of onerous and outdated requirements in place for the general day-to-day administration of our school districts. I think most businesses would have a hard time focusing on customer service when facing such outdated financial and administrative requirements. Our teachers and school administrators should be able to focus on serving and educating our students, not outdated bureaucracy. This bill cuts the red tape from the administrative side of our school districts, while maintaining student safety, school security, and transparency,” said Senator Hutson.
To advance efficiency for school board administrative processes, the bill:
- Simplifies school board rulemaking with open meetings.
- Delegates more authority to superintendents for efficient district policies.
- Clarifies online service requirements for student data protection.
- Provides flexibility in making up days lost due to emergencies.
- Allows online meeting notices and electronic notifications for student issues.
- Simplifies processes for students carrying medical supplies.
To simplify financial requirements for school boards, the bill:
- Transitions from newspapers to websites for budget notices.
- Provides flexibility in using federal funds for teacher recruitment in low-income areas and support programs.
- Removes requirements for graphical budget presentations and for transportation supply costs.
- Adjusts monthly reporting based on financial status and directs charter schools to respond to DOE inquiries.
To enhance the ability of school boards to plan for and manage their facilities, the bill:
- Expands revenue use for facilities and ancillary plants.
- Provides autonomy in long-term facility planning and in managing property.
- Removes requirements for educational plant surveys and average cost limitations.
SPB 7004, Deregulation of Public Schools/Assessment and Accountability, Instruction, and Education Choice, led by Senator Simon, provides school districts greater authority over determining student progression, implementing school improvement programs, providing instructional materials, and providing early learning programs.
“Our state education code is contained in a book that is 3.5 inches thick. I think that’s big enough,” said Senator Simon. “There are so many areas regulated from Tallahassee that could be handled more efficiently at the local level, where parents have direct access to teachers, school administrators, and school board members. This bill eases the burden for our district schools and teachers, who just want to spend their time doing the job they love, focusing on our students. It also magnifies the voices of our parents, affirming their right to guide their child’s education.”
Specifically, the bill:
- Expands parental rights by requiring that parents have a voice in the mandatory grade 3 retention policy.
- Eliminates high-stakes assessment needed to earn a standard high school diploma.
- Provides additional time to implement a sustainable plan for low-performing schools and adding a community school partnership as a turnaround option.
- Creates a runway for school districts to adjust to any changes to the school grades model by requiring that changes made to the school grades model or scale may not go into effect until the following school year.
- Maintains the 100 minutes of required recess, but provides schools the flexibility to schedule those 100 minutes of required recess over the course of a week.
- Creates a streamlined process for districts to adopt state-required instructional materials, by creating timelines for DOE to adopt instructional materials.
- Allows flexibility in offering VPK summer programs and reporting requirements.
- Repeals a number of reports and programs.
The Learn Local package will be heard in an additional Senate Committee prior to being eligible to be considered on the Senate floor during the 2024 Regular Session, which begins in January.
Reducing regulations for public schools is a component of HB 1 (2023). HB 1 expands eligibility for Florida’s School Choice Scholarships to all students who are residents of Florida and eligible to enroll in kindergarten through grade 12 in a public school. Under the bill, now law, parents receive an education savings account to take dollars the State of Florida has appropriated for their child in the public education system and choose among a variety of options to customize their child’s education.
The bill made also several immediate revisions to Florida’s Education Code, identified by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. For example, the bill reduced hurdles to a 5-year temporary teacher certificate for anyone with a bachelor’s degree and for those with three years of effective or highly effective service. The bill repealed the requirement that a student take one online course in order to graduate from high school, which is not currently required in private schools. The bill also offers districts flexibility in facility costs for new construction, and offers student transportation flexibility to improve efficiency, while maintaining student safety.
To further reduce additional regulation on public schools, HB 1 required the State Board of Education to develop for adoption during the 2024 Legislative Session recommendations to repeal and revise portions of the Early Learning-20 Education Code, Title XLVIII, Florida Statutes. Additionally, the Senate undertook an independent review of the Florida Early Learning-20 Education Code to prepare the legislation that passed today. This review included feedback provided from Senators, local school districts, the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, the Florida School Boards Association, and the Florida Education Association, among others. In addition to meetings with these stakeholders, the Senate reviewed more than 4,000 suggestions submitted online via the Department of Education’s public portal.