In historically trying times, Florida lawmakers boldly embraced strong policies that ensure millions of families can succeed now and in the future.
Recognizing and Supporting Teachers and Schools
Florida has the strongest student-centered policies in the nation. The state’s dedicated teachers are the most critical role in ensuring student success.
Historic Pay Increase for Teachers: House Bill 641 provides $500 million in the 2020-21 budget to raise teacher salaries, with $400 million to raise minimum salaries for new teachers and $100 million to increase pay for experienced teachers.
Supporting Schools Providing Health Care: Students depend on schools for health services, and districts can obtain funds from the federal government to pay for those critical services. House Bill 81 allows districts to more easily receive those funds for providing health services to students enrolled in Medicaid, who participate in the exceptional student education program or have an individualized education plan.
Expanding Educational Opportunities for Florida’s Families and Students
Florida leads the nation in providing educational opportunities, with more than 170,000 families now benefitting from the ability to find the best fit for their child’s unique needs.
Expanding Family Empowerment Scholarships: This session, lawmakers more than doubled access to Family Empowerment Scholarships as part of House Bill 7067, expanding educational options to another 28,000 students next year. The program already serves 18,000 low- and middle-income families, which last year experienced the largest first-year enrollment in Florida’s school choice history.
House Bill 7067 also ensures that the number of available scholarships grows each year as Florida’s student population increases, ensuring the program expands to meet families’ needs.
Protecting Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Students: The 108,000 families whose children are thriving in a private school thanks to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program will no longer have to worry about losing scholarship support if they get a raise . HB 7067 ensures those children can stay in their school of choice even if their families begin to earn more.
Increasing Education Choice for Special Needs Students: Lawmakers also addressed the needs of families who have been waiting to obtain a Gardiner Scholarship to better customize their child’s education. The state’s budget includes $42 million to provide education scholarship accounts to almost 4,000 additional students with unique abilities. Gardiner Scholarships–the largest ESA program in the country–are now available to serve 14,000 children.
Fair Funding for Public Charter Schools: Florida’s more than 313,000 students attending public charter schools will benefit from equitable funding for their schools’ facilities. House Bill 7097 ensures that voter-approved sales surtaxes to improve district public school infrastructure is shared equitably with eligible charter schools.
Supporting Military Families with Education & Workforce Attainment
Military families face challenges due to frequent relocations and re-entry into the workforce upon discharge. Florida lawmakers are helping those families.
Recognizing College Credit for Military Experience: Servicemembers and veterans will now receive credit from Florida public universities and colleges for equivalent training and experience earned while in the service. House Bill 171 will allow servicemembers to obtain college credit and vocational certifications based on the work and training they earned while in the service.
Helping Children in Military Families Find the Best School: Active duty servicemembers move frequently, making it difficult to find the best educational opportunities for their children. Senate Bill 662 will ease those transitions by allowing military families who are transferring to Florida to pre-enroll their children in public school choice programs.
Providing More Time for Veterans to Earn a Living With Commercial Driver’s License: Veterans with skills operating military vehicles will have more time to obtain a commercial driver’s license to drive trucks and other vehicles in civilian life. House Bill 1193 will increase civilian job opportunities for veterans by providing more time to apply for a commercial driver license after they separate from service.
Incentivizing School Districts and State Colleges to Support More Students with College Acceleration
School districts deserve credit when they successfully support students in obtaining challenging diplomas and experience.
Funding for Districts When Students Pass Challenging AP Exams: Students who earn an Advanced Placement Capstone Diploma by scoring 3 or higher on four or more AP exams are prepared for success after graduating. House Bill 641 provides districts with additional funding when they help students earn this rigorous diploma.
Rewarding Districts When Students Earn College Credit in High School: Similarly, students who successfully complete dual enrollment classes are better prepared for post-graduate success. House Bill 7067 rewards districts that help students complete those courses by providing additional funding to districts for dual enrollment students who earn an “A” and for those who earn an Associate degree.