Public School Choice, Construction Overhaul In Massive Ed Bill Heading To House

Mar 9, 2016

Credit peoriapublicradio.org

A massive education bill is a step closer to Governor Rick Scott's desk. It changes everything from the way charter schools get construction dollars, to allowing school board members to join different organizations.

The bill allows public school students to attend any school in the state as long as there is room, and gives greater leeway to high school athletes to transfer.  But a late-filed amendment by Republican Senator Kelli Stargel over whether to let school board members choose association’s other than the state school board association drew fire from Democratic Senator Dwight Bullard.

“We kind of know where this is going. It’s an unfortunate matter of circumstances that we’re addressing this through an amendment. A very, very late filed amendment," he said.

Critics say the amendment is the result of the Florida School Board Associations choice to join a lawsuit over the corporate tax scholarship program. 

Two public universities deemed 'emerging pre-eminent" by the Florida Board of Governors would split $10 million. And public charters would only get school construction money if they serve low income or disabled students. Districts would have to abide by state spending caps on construction. That language is a softer version of a measure by Republican Senator Erik Fresen who has accused districts of over-spending on projects. 

The House will have the final say on the bill.