AG opinion: Teachers count in deciding how to spend recognition funds
The time is drawing near when Florida schools that scored well on the FCAT get to fight over how to spend their recognition funds from the state. They have the choice to put the money toward employee bonuses, school equipment and salaries for temporary additional staff.
More often than not, the school staff and advisory committees dole out the bonuses. Battles sometimes break out, though, over exactly how to distribute the funds, and to whom.
That in mind, Osceola's school district lawyer recently raised an interesting question for the Attorney General's Office to consider: If teachers as a group are bigger than all other employees at a school, can they participate in the vote how to use the recognition funds knowing they can decide who to include and exclude by sheer number?
Or, more formally, "If classroom teachers outnumber other school staff engaged in the joint determination with the school advisory council regarding the distribution and use of school recognition funds, may the school develop a procedure by which the position of the school staff is decided by a vote of all of the staff at the school, including the teachers?"
The AGO's opinion, in a word, is "yes":
"Absent a legislative intent limiting participation in the process, classroom teachers would be considered part of the school’s staff participating in the joint determination by school staff and the school advisory council of the use of school recognition funds. There is nothing in the legislation which would appear to preclude the adoption of a procedure whereby all of the staff, including teachers, may vote on the matter."
Read the full Attorney General Opinion here. School recognition fund announcements haven't yet been made. The deadline to decide how to use the money comes Feb. 1.