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HB 7069 Tally: 23,440 yeas, 22,734 nays

June 13th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

The fate of a sweeping and controversial education bill is now in the hands of Governor Rick Scott. The measure combines nearly two dozen proposals and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, contains both a carrot and a stick for public schools.

On it’s face, House bill 7069 does a lot of good. Grades k through 5 will see 20 minutes of recess every school day, a teacher bonus plan is expanded. Principles will also see bonuses when their teachers perform. It also expands funding for special needs students. House Education Chairman Michael Bileca calls it targeted.

 

“We get to the teachers. we get bonuses to them. we get funding into the high poverty areas. Try to get meaningful, transformative change to these schools” says Bileca.

HB 7069 also significantly boosts charter school funding, creates charter schools of Hope to augment failing public schools, and for the first time allows charter schools access to federal Title One funding for low income students. Sen. Bill Montford worries about allowing charters to access not only federal, but local property tax revenues.

 

“Those dollars now will also be shared with charter schools, so it will be far less money to meet the needs that we don’t even have enough money to meet now” says Montford.

The legislation, particularly School of Hope, was the top priority for the House Speaker. It became a bargaining chip in budget negotiations.

Governor Rick Scott has said there is no deal to give him what he wanted in exchange for the expansive school legislation. None-the-less, he is expected to sign it later this week.

Lawmakers passed 7069 on May 8th. It didn’t reach the Governor’s desk until Monday, long after a budget deal was crafted.

The Governors office says as of this afternoon, 23,440 people have called, emailed, written or signed petitions in favor of signing HB 7069, while 22,734 say they want the bill vetoed.

If signed, Parents won’t see any changes this fall, but educators warn they’ll see less maintenance, older school buses and some public school program cuts over the next few years as a result of schools having to share local tax revenues. Dozens of calls were made asking the Governor to veto the legislation.

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