Best and Brightest teacher bonus gets new life in Florida Senate
Florida's controversial Best and Brightest bonus plan, which rewards teachers with top performance evaluations and qualifying SAT or ACT scores, will get a new chance of life in the skeptical state Senate.
Sen. Don Gaetz, chairman of the Education Appropriations Committee, has filed an amendment to his bill on performance-based funding for universities that incorporates Best and Brightest language recently approved by the full House.
House leaders have made the bonus program a priority, while it has won considerably less enthusiasm in the upper chamber. Performance funding for the university system, on the other hand, has been a goal for many in the Senate including Gaetz, a former presiding officer.
His recommended incorporation of the House wording into the same bill could signal a way forward for both ideas. Recall, Gaetz had zeroed out funding for the program in his budget proposal, while Gov. Rick Scott and House education appropriations chairman Erik Fresen -- the lead sponsor of Best and Brightest -- included millions for the program.
Both sides will be looking to reach a budget agreement in the coming weeks, as session nears a close and election season approaches. This item proved a sticking point to the end in 2015, winning out only as a last minute amendment to the annual spending bill.
Depending on discussion in the Senate, it could get cleared earlier this time around. Insiders say the vote could be tight as the Senate Appropriations Committee takes up the bill at 10 a.m. Thursday. Stay tuned.