Florida Session Week 8 Highlights: Bills on the Move

Florida Session Week 8 Highlights: Bills on the Move

Friday, March 2, 2018

Legislators made significant progress this week passing several student-centered bills as they enter the final week of Florida’s 2018 Legislative Session.

  • The Gardiner Scholarship Program’s current funding level will not cover the 2,300 Florida students with special needs who will be wait-listed next school year.
  • The Florida House passed HB 1035 on Thursday, providing greater flexibility to public school districts participating in the state’s Mastery-Based Education Pilot Program.
  • Legislation to expand educational options for bullied or harassed students is one step closer to consideration for final passage by the Senate and House.

Personalized Learning

The Florida House passed legislation on Thursday that allows districts to create programs where students are empowered to play a greater role in their learning, which is then tailored to the student’s unique strengths, interests and needs.

HB 1035, sponsored by Representative Jennifer Sullivan, provides flexibility to school districts participating in Florida’s Mastery-Based Education Pilot program and allows interested districts to participate. 

Similar legislation, championed by Senator Jeff Brandes, was added to SB 732, sponsored by Senator Dennis Baxley, during a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting earlier today.

Urge your legislators to support these districts.

Gardiner Scholarship 
Neither the House nor Senate’s preliminary budget includes funding to ensure the 2,300 Florida students with special needs who will be wait-listed next school year have access to Gardiner Scholarship Program.

This school year, more than 10,000 students with special needs are able to benefit from a customized education that meets their needs.

Two minutes is all it takes to email your legislator urging them to increase funding for a program that helps thousands of students with special needs gain access to a quality education.

Reading Scholarship Accounts 
HB 7055, by Representative Manny Diaz, Jr. establishes a Reading Scholarship Account program for students in grades 3-5 who are reading significantly below grade level.

Through the programparticipating families would be reimbursed for expenses to give their child reading instruction/tutoring in addition to what they receive in public school. 

The bill is expected to be voted on by the full Senate on March 5.

Dual Enrollment 
Language that ensures all students have free, open access to dual enrollment courses at their local state colleges was added to HB 7055 on February 27.  Jacksonville mom, Susan Heekin, and her children visited with legislators this session to share their support for this important piece of legislation

Computer Science Education 
Legislation to expand computer science education passed the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier today. SB 1056, sponsored by Senator Kathleen Passidomo, expands computer science education and provides incentives for teachers to be trained to teach these innovative courses.

A similar piece of legislation, HB 1213, sponsored by Representative Elizabeth Porter, passed the House Education Committee on February 27.

Hope Scholarship  
HB 1, sponsored by Representative Byron Donalds, gives the parents of students who have been subjected to bullying or harassment the option of attending another public school or using a tax-credit scholarship to attend a private school.

The bill was heard on second reading by the Florida House earlier today, moving the legislation one step closer to consideration for final passage.  

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