June 30, 2017 – Several laws that impact public education and charter schools took effect on July 1, 2017.
Below is a brief recap of legislative changes and new laws that impact your school and the students you serve.
Headlines meant to cause panic state that districts are handing over millions to charter schools. Nothing could be further from the truth. The capital outlay funding from local mileage – as outlined in HB7029, will now be equitably distributed to all public school students – whether they attend a district-run or charter school. Although school districts have always had the option to share local capital money with charter schools, only a few had. HB7069 changed this option to a requirement for all school districts. As a result, Florida’s charter schools could receive up to $96.3 million is capital outlay from shared capital mileage. In the 2016-17 school year, $75 million was shared among qualifying schools. Those funds, as in previous years, had been allocated by the state.
Funding courtrooms instead of classrooms
Broward County school board members, elected to serve ALL children, voted to take away dollars from children’s education to pay for a lawsuit against HB 7069. This is an effort to stop the equitable sharing of local mileage among all students, and continue to under-fund school choice families. Many charter school operators and parents, including FCSA’s executive director Lynn Norman-Teck, have responded to the lawsuit with letters to the editor in support of charter schools and school choice. We encourage you and your stakeholders to send letters to the editor of your local newspaper and voice your support for equitable funding.
Your FCSA team will continue to monitor the equity funding push-back and bring you updates. In the meantime, here is a brief recap of how HB7069 will impact your school budget:
- Capital Outlay eligibility remains the same as last year. Charter schools have to be operating for at least two years and have at least “C” grades to qualify for Capital Outlay.
- Charter schools serving 75% or more Title 1 population or kids with disabilities will get additional funding.
Below are the estimated new amounts that will be received (2017-18) , which will vary by district. Also note that each district has until February 2018 to decide how the new funds will be paid out so effects may not be immediate.
|District||New Capital Outlay Revenue per FTE|
|Palm Beach||$ 813.57|
|St. Lucie||$ 397.96|
Note: This is just a short list. FCSA is working on a comprehensive list we will share with member schools shortly. The above per-student estimates are based on currently qualifying charters for the pot of capital outlay money. As more charters with more students qualify for capital outlay dollars, the per-student amount will decease.
Best & Brightest Program 2018-2021
HB7069 sets aside $230 million for Best & Brightest Awards and includes raises for highly effective and effective teachers. This means schools will receive additional funding for the pay-for-performance raises instead of it coming out of your general operating account.
- $1,200 for every highly effective teacher, and $6,000 for every Best & Brightest Qualifying Teacher
- Best & Brightest qualifying teachers receive $1,200 for being highly effective as well as the $6000 for a total of $7,200
- Once the highly effective and Best & Brightest funds for the year is dispersed, the remaining funds for the year are divided equally among effective teachers
- Using VAM to instructional personnel performance is now optional.
Best & Brightest Program 2021
- Lowers requirement of the passing score to 71%, and adds use of GRE, LSAT, MCAT, SAT, ACT scores as qualifying exams.
- The entire $230 million goes to Best & Brightest, no longer funding teacher raises based on effectiveness ratings.
- Teachers have 3 years (from 2018 to 2021) to re-take qualifying exams and pass. Principals should encourage teachers to re-take the exams and qualify for Best & Brightest dollars.
- HB7069 allows student-athletes to play sports at any school, regardless of what school they’re zoned to.
- The new / transfer school can’t be at capacity
- There are some restrictions within the new policy, including:
- Athletes that played a sport at one school can’t participate in the same sport at another school during the same school year, unless they’re a child of an active military personnel member that moved for work;
- foster care placement moved them; their parents died or divorced;
- a change in custody necessitated the move;
- or authorized for good cause in district or charter school policy
- Parents or students have to provide their transportation to and from the school
- Students seeking to transfer can’t be facing expulsion or be under suspension
- Blended courses can now count towards virtual credit requirement for graduation.
- This means the teacher on record in the classroom can simultaneously be the teacher on record for the corresponding virtual course
- No set amount of time must be spent online, but a portion of the curriculum must be spent online
- Funding increase comes because LEAs will now be capped with the amount of Title 1 funds they can keep in the district for administrative expenses (to 8%)
- District thresholds do not change – they can decrease threshold but will be frozen from increasing above current thresholds (for example, Miami Dade is currently 71% and cannot have this threshold increased for the duration of the freeze.)
- Title 1 Schools with VPKs can use Title 1 funds towards the second half of the Pre-K day
- Below are estimates of what the impact should be if the districts comply correctly with new Title 1 language:
- Funding varies by district because districts were withholding different amounts for administrative expenses. These amounts are estimates based on available information:
|Title 1||2015-16||New Estimate|
|Funding per Student||Funding per Student||Funding Increase|
|Broward||$ 405.40||$ 704.48||42%|
|Duval||$ 307.52||$ 649.77||53%|
|Hillsborough||$ 409.84||$ 553.63||26%|
|Dade||$ 276.47||$ 710.23||61%|
|Orange||$ 480.77||$ 732.19||34%|
|Osceola||$ 261.32||$ 545.87||52%|
|Palm Beach||$ 318.85||$ 616.27||48%|
|Polk||$ 221.80||$ 649.16||66%|
Other bills that became state law July 1
Per student funding: HB 3A kicked in on July 1. This bill adds millions of dollars to the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), which increases per-student funding by $100.
Religious expression: SB 436 specifies that a school district may not discriminate against a student, parent or school personnel based on a religious viewpoint or religious expression. https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/BillSummaries/2017/html/1607
Education materials: HB 989 changes the state’s policy on instructional materials to allow any county resident, not just parents, to challenge materials, such as books, used at schools. https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/00989
Tax-Free Back to School shopping: HB 7109 provides a three-day back-to-school” holiday (Aug. 4-6, 2017) for clothing and footwear costing $60 or less, school supplies costing $15 or less and for computers with a sales price of $750 or less.
Adoption benefits: Florida Statute 409.1664 amended to extend adoption benefits to employees of charter and virtual schools. http://www.newschief.com/news/20170628/charter-school-employees-now-eligible-for-adoption-bonuses-lakeland-couple-fought-for-new-law
The Florida Charter School Alliance is the only active state charter school association working on your behalf in Tallahassee and throughout Florida year-round. If you have any questions about the 2017 legislative session or how recent legislation impacts your school, please contact us.
Lynn Norman-Teck, Lynn@flcharteralliance.org Ralph Arza, Ralph@flcharteralliance.org