Still stewing over 70 percent solution
The effort to force Florida school districts to spend a minimum of 70 percent of their operating funds in the classroom refuses to go away, despite misgivings by many educators and lawmakers. The concept, discredited at 65 percent in many other states, returns to the Senate Education Appropriations Committee this morning.
Some school district leaders have tried to temper the legislation by suggesting what they consider acceptable changes to the definition of classroom.
The current proposal relies on the statute that defines instructional personnel to include teachers, social workers, librarians, media specialists, paraprofessionals and related employees.
Arguing that the state requires them to bus and feed students and send them to safe, clean schools, many district leaders are wanting lawmakers to also include a second statutory definition of instructional expenditures that counts custodians, bus drivers and other personnel in the mix.
Of course, with the second level added, most districts would easily meet the 70 percent standard, which is what district leaders want.
It seems that the lawmakers pushing this proposal really want to limit administrative spending. So it begs the question — why not just write a bill that says districts may not spend more than xx percent on administration rather than go through this effort?
House Pre-k-12 policy chairman John Legg told the Gradebook that this bill, a priority of the governor, might become part of late-session horse trading for ideas that haven't gained full traction in the Legislature. It all depends on how important the issues are to members, and whether they're willing to compromise.
"It all is coming down to the last week," he said. Stay tuned.