Florida Senate - 2016 SB 978 By Senator Legg 17-00992A-16 2016978__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to public school teachers; creating s. 3 1012.731, F.S.; providing legislative intent; defining 4 the term “school district”; establishing the Florida 5 Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program; 6 providing eligibility criteria; requiring a school 7 district to annually submit the number of eligible 8 teachers to the Department of Education; providing for 9 funding and disbursement of funds; providing an 10 effective date. 11 12 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 13 14 Section 1. Section 1012.731, Florida Statutes, is created 15 to read: 16 1012.731 The Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship 17 Program.— 18 (1) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—The Legislature recognizes that 19 teachers play a critical role in preparing students to achieve a 20 high level of academic performance. The Legislature further 21 recognizes that research has linked student performance to a 22 teacher’s own academic achievements. Therefore, it is the intent 23 of the Legislature to designate teachers who have achieved high 24 academic standards during their own education as Florida’s Best 25 and Brightest Teacher scholars. 26 (2) DEFINITION.—For purposes of this section, the term 27 “school district” includes the Florida School for the Deaf and 28 the Blind and a charter school governing board. 29 (3) PROGRAM.—There is created the Florida Best and 30 Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program to be administered by the 31 Department of Education. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, 32 the scholarship program shall provide categorical funding for 33 scholarships to be awarded to teachers who have demonstrated a 34 high level of academic achievement. 35 (4) TEACHER ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA.— 36 (a) To be eligible for a Florida Best and Brightest Teacher 37 scholarship: 38 1. A teacher must have scored at or above the 60th 39 percentile on either the SAT or the ACT, based upon the 40 percentile ranks in effect when the teacher took the assessment, 41 and must have been evaluated as highly effective pursuant to s. 42 1012.34; or 43 2. A teacher who is in his or her first year and who has 44 not been evaluated pursuant to s. 1012.34 must have scored at or 45 above the 80th percentile on either the SAT or the ACT, based 46 upon the percentile ranks in effect when the teacher took the 47 assessment. 48 (b) In order to demonstrate eligibility for an award, a 49 teacher must submit to the school district no later than October 50 1 an official record of his or her SAT or ACT score 51 demonstrating that he or she scored at or above the 60th 52 percentile, based upon the percentile ranks in effect when he or 53 she took the assessment. If a teacher is deemed eligible by the 54 school district, the teacher will remain eligible as long as he 55 or she is employed by the school district and maintains or, if 56 the teacher is a first-year teacher, is evaluated at the highly 57 effective level pursuant to s. 1012.34. 58 (5) ELIGIBILITY NOTIFICATION; FUNDING AND DISBURSEMENT OF 59 FUNDS.— 60 (a) By December 1 of each year, each school district shall 61 submit to the department the number of eligible teachers who 62 qualify for the scholarship. 63 (b) By February 1 of each year, the department shall 64 disburse scholarship funds, in an amount prescribed by the 65 Legislature in the General Appropriations Act, to each school 66 district for eligible teachers to receive a scholarship. If the 67 number of eligible teachers exceeds the total appropriation 68 authorized in the General Appropriation Act, the department 69 shall prorate the per-teacher scholarship amount. 70 (c) By April 1 of each year, each school district shall 71 provide payment of the scholarship to each eligible teacher. 72 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2016.