As expected, Florida Senate approves 'personal learning scholarship account' expansion ... and uniforms
The PLSA measure, aimed at providing more education options for children with disabilities, was a priority of Senate President Andy Gardiner, and his chamber delivered a 39-0 vote for him. (Original version here, amendments here)
"For people with unique abilities and their families, Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts and Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Programs represent freedom from a one-size-fits-all system and the opportunity to pursue education and career choices suited to their own unique skills," Gardiner, R-Orlando, said in a prepared statement. "This bill is a pillar of our cradle to career pathway to economic independence for people with unique abilities. I could not be more grateful for the support of Speaker Crisafulli, the advocacy of Senator Gaetz, and the encouragement of my Senate colleagues as we work to make the dream of a high school diploma, the college experience, and a meaningful career a reality for more people with unique abilities across Florida."
The Senate bill looks likely to win House approval -- Crisafulli has already agreed to name the scholarships after Gardiner.
Less publicized within the bill was the establishment of a House priority, that of state incentives for mandatory school district uniforms, as law rather than a one-time budget allocation, which it was last year.
Several districts including Miami-Dade are participating already, and some have signaled their interest in the repeating funding source.
So too have charter schools, which had troubles accessing the $10 per student funds in the 2015 version. If the districts where they are located didn't seek the money, the charters were prohibited from applying under the rules. Many districts including Hillsborough and Pasco didn't want to mandate all K-8 students wear uniforms, leaving their local charters out of the money.
This time out, lawmakers are looking to repair that oversight. They meant to include charters, a large number of which already have required uniforms, in the mix. The new language clarifies that charters can apply separately from their districts:
"Before the release of funds, but no later than September 1 of each year, the district school superintendent or the charter school governing board shall certify to the commissioner that the school district or charter school has implemented a districtwide or schoolwide standard student attire policy, respectively, in accordance with this section. A charter school may also qualify by participating in its sponsor's qualifying policy."
The rules would take effect July 1 if Gov. Rick Scott signs them into law.