As Florida’s 2019 Session concludes, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran thanked Governor Ron DeSantis for his leadership in securing wins for students, parents and teachers through policies that will change the educational landscape for decades to come and record levels of funding that secure a commitment to those student-centered policy goals.
Commissioner Corcoran said, “It was an absolutely amazing Legislative Session for our students, parents and teachers. Governor DeSantis – in partnership with legislative leaders like President Galvano, Speaker Oliva – brought a renewed focus to rewarding our best teachers, better preparing our students with high quality lifelong and career learning opportunities, expanding choices for Florida’s families, investing massively in our public schools, intensifying Florida’s focus on safer schools, keeping the dream of a college education affordable and directing more dollars directly to classrooms. Simply said, this year was truly an historic year for education.”
2019 Session Highlights for K-12 and College Education include:
Historic Funding Increases While Simultaneously Passing a Massive Property Tax Cut for Floridians
- $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 $782.9 increase in total funds to the FEFP.
- All while still passing a massive property tax cut for Floridians.
Supporting our Teachers
- $284.5 million recurring investment in our Best and Brightest teachers and principals (SB 7070), a $50.5 million increase.
- 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.
Creating Pathways for 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 going forward 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 by $2 and $4 million, resulting in totals of $6.5 million and $14 million respectively.
- Provides $30 million in student success funding for Florida’s 28 state colleges.
- $10 million for the Work Florida Incentive Fund to align career education pathways with workforce demands
- $20 million for the 2 + 2 Student Success Incentive Fund to continue improving Associate of Arts degree completion and transferring to baccalaureate degree programs
- 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 a lifeline 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, a game changer 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 tremendously 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).
What Key Education Leaders Are Saying
- Senate President Bill Galvano: “This is perhaps the most comprehensive and coordinated effort I have seen in my years in the Legislature, on the part of the Governor, the House and the Senate, to support, improve and innovate in every aspect of education, from supporting our teachers, funding our schools, creating choice and pathways for students, to ensuring the fundamentals of a great civics education and safer schools.”
- Speaker of the House Jose Oliva: “This legislative session we continued to build on the foundation of success laid down by those who came before us. That foundation begins with choice. Ensuring every child is given a chance, means every parent must be given a choice. I am proud of my colleagues who put the future of our children first. Together, we also provided greater resources – directed into the classroom – at another record pace. We implemented the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission and expanded the successful Coach Feis Guardian program to protect our kids in school. Put succinctly, Florida’s schools continue to improve and thrive and under the leadership of Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran, Florida’s education future is bright.”
- Senate Committee on Education Chair Manny Diaz: “I am especially proud of all we have done, the Governor, the Legislature, the Department of Education, to better the safety and security of our schools. The effort took tremendous leadership on all fronts, and a commitment to ensure that above all we put the well-being of our students and teachers are the forefront.”
- House Education Committee Chair Jennifer Sullivan: “Thanks to the collaboration and commitment between the Legislature and Governor DeSantis we had the opportunity to transform Florida’s education system by creating more choice for students and parents than ever before. Bills 7071 and 7070 is giving control back to students and parents of students by providing a multitude of alternative pathways to allow all students to succeed. I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and the Senate to expand choice and career pathways in the great State of Florida.”
- State Board of Education Chair Marva Johnson: “I am thrilled about this Legislative Session’s education victories, which will significantly benefit our Florida’s students and the educators who have dedicated their lives to preparing them for lifelong success. I appreciate Governor DeSantis, Commissioner Corcoran and our legislators prioritizing our state’s education system and ensuring that every student has every opportunity for success.”
- Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce: “Talent is replacing the tax incentive as the most important economic development tool in America, and what Commissioner Corcoran and Governor DeSantis have done will build on Florida’s positive momentum – big win for Florida’s future.”
For more information about the Florida Department of Education, visit fldoe.org.