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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Key issues remain in Florida education budget discussion



It's down to the nitty gritty this evening as the Florida Legislature's budget conference chairmen try to work out the final details that have eluded compromise so far.

Among the outstanding items for public education are almost every aspect of university funding, class size reduction penalties, instructional materials purchasing requirements, school recognition per student funding, and rules on closing schools under certain conditions (aimed largely at Seminole County schools).

One issue that has its roots in Pinellas County that has found resolution relates to severance packages for school district superintendents. Pinellas superintendent Julie Janssen raised eyebrows with her demands for more than $600,000 in severance, including a large portion the School Board rejected.

The House and Senate decided to apply statute limiting such severance packages to superintendents going forward. The new rules, once adopted and signed into law, would state among other things that superintendent severance pay may not exceed 20 weeks of salary, and that severance would be prohibited in the case of firing for misconduct as defined in law.

Two items that aren't headed for the conference table are charter school construction funding, and a delay for new school grading rules. House leaders roundly rejected a proposal to force school districts to share their capital projects revenue with charters, and the Senate relented to the idea of a task force to examine the sharing idea for the future.

Senate leaders brought in a late proposal to hold off on implementing new school grading rules adopted by the State Board of Education under heavy criticism in late February. That issue was headed to the table until Sen. David Simmons, the main proponent, pulled it back.

Simmons told the Buzz he had spoken with the governor, who "understands the problem and the magnitude, and the need to address it."

"I have his commitment to seek to find a solution after session," Simmons said. More here.

[Last modified: Monday, March 5, 2012 2:33pm]


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