Focusing on unfunded mandates
With money in short supply, Florida education leaders increasingly have turned their attention to what they're calling "flexibility." They're asking lawmakers to at the very least cut back on unfunded mandates, which in theory would allow districts more leeway to spend money without so many restrictions.
The idea is gaining some traction.
Pasco Reps. Will Weatherford and John Legg, each of whom chairs an education-related committee, have asked the Pasco district for ideas on where they might eliminate unnecessary and overly stringent spending rules. Superintendent Heather Fiorentino told her board that her staff is drawing up a list.
And then there's this note from House Speaker Ray Sansom to members, in which he lays out his thoughts on dealing with the economy. In it, he speaks of thoroughly examining Florida's regulatory structure, which some are taking as a signal. "In the end," Sansom writes:
"... the goals are to provide an environment that fosters business innovation and growth for Florida to return to a position of national economic leadership; revive our once vibrant economy; and make every effort to reduce the costs, the barriers and the burdens of government."
The message certainly applies to business dealings, but school leaders are now talking about the reality of getting some relief as soon as the January special session. Stay tuned.