Gov. DeSantis Commends Florida Legislature for Passage of School Choice Expansion and Key Education Priorities

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Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis praised the Florida Legislature for passing school choice expansion, Gardiner Scholarship funding and Best and Brightest Teacher and Principal Bonuses among other top educational priorities for the administration. The Governor advocated for funding and expansion of these programs from the onset of his administration at various events throughout the Sunshine State and outlined his proposal for these priorities through his Bold Vision for a Brighter Future Budget.

“The education priorities passed this session represent a resounding victory for students, parents and teachers across Florida,” said Governor DeSantis. “Clearing the waitlist for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship empowers parents to make the best education decisions for their children. Florida is the national leader in school choice and as long as I’m Governor, I will be committed to ensuring every child can go to a great school regardless of their family’s income.”

Among the Governor’s top educational priorities, the Florida Legislature passed:

Historic Funding Increases

  • $75 per student increase to the Base Student Allocation (BSA), the largest increase since 2015-2016.
  • $242.60 per student increase to the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), the largest increase since 2013-2014 and the second largest increase since 2007-2008.
  • A $700 million increase to the FEFP.
  • All while still passing a $272 million property tax cut for Floridians.

Support for our Teachers

  • $300 million recurring investment in our Best and Brightest teachers and principals (SB 7070), a $65 million increase.
  • Fulfilled promise to eliminate the SAT/ACT condition for eligibility.
  • Continued funding to provide free liability insurance to every Florida teacher, protecting those who educate our students.
  • Teachers will be given three years to pass the General Knowledge Test (SB 7070), rather than just one year, consistent with the three-year period that teachers have to obtain their certification.  This change in law works in tandem with March 19, 2019 State Board of Education meeting in which the Board voted to reduce testing fees for prospective teachers.

Advancing Florida’s Future Workforce

  • $10 million appropriation for the newly created Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program (HB 7071), which will enable high schools, career centers and Colleges to partner with business and industry and offer high quality preapprenticeship and apprenticeship opportunities to students.
  • $10 million appropriation to fund teacher professional development in computer science and reward those teachers for earning credentials to teach high quality computer science courses.
  • Additionally, students will have the option to count those computer science courses as either a required Math or Science credit in high school (HB 7071).
  • Providing an array of options to ensure that postsecondary students don’t leave college without a degree or credential (HB 7071), including:
    • A requirement that students be able to “reverse transfer” their credits to earn an associate in arts degree;
    • A requirement that universities notify students of the opportunity to receive their associate in arts upon completion of the necessary credits; and
    • Creation of the Last Mile College Completion Program.
  • Increased funding incentives for districts and college industry certification programs, $2 and $4 million, respectively, and $30 million in performance funding for Florida’s 28 state colleges.
  • Requirement for annual audits of Florida’s career and technical education programs and apprenticeship programs (HB 7071), including directives to ensure that those programs are aligned with in-demand workforce opportunities.

Empowering Students and Families

  • Passage of the historic Family Empowerment Scholarship Program (SB 7070), which will offer school choice to 18,000 students, including the nearly 13,000 students on the wait list Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program.
  • $147.9 million invested in the Gardiner Scholarship Program, enough to provide scholarships for the nearly 1,900 students with special needs who are on the wait list.
  • Continued legislative (SB 7070) and funding support, $40 million, for Schools of Hope, following the confirmation of IDEA Public Schools and KIPP confirming their intent to open 25 schools in Tampa Bay area and Miami-Dade, respectively.
  • Continued support for equitable treatment of capital outlay funding for all public schools, including public charter schools.
  • Providing a much needed review of Florida Virtual School’s (FLVS) operations in light of more than a year’s questionable management practices (SB 2502), that otherwise unchecked could eventually threaten the valuable educational options that FLVS provides to students.

Creating Safer Schools

  • $180 million invested in Safe Schools for school resource officers and enhanced school safety measures, $50 million for school hardening grants and continued financial investment in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
  • $75 million in mental health funding for districts and schools to establish care for students and $5 million to continue evidence-based youth mental health awareness and assistance training to help school personnel identify and understand the signs of mental health and substance abuse problems.
  • Continued investment in and funding for improvements to the Florida Safe Schools Assessment online risk assessment Tool (FSSAT) that assists in school emergencies, crisis and preparedness planning and prevention.
  • Implementation of dozens of school safety recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission (HB 7030), including strengthening compliance and expanding schools and districts access to the Guardian Program and ensuring the security of every school.

Fighting for Freedom

  • Passage of civic literacy legislation to ensure Florida has the best curriculum in the nation for civics education, the best standards and the best assessments, and that programs with a proven track record of tremendous civic value for our students are counted towards the necessary service hours for Bright Futures Scholarships (HB 807).
  • Legislation that ensures school districts accept a permanent change of station order as proof of residency for all public school programs, and that active duty members, spouses and their dependents are classified as residents for tuition purposes (SB 620).

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