Florida Board of Education looks at new capital outlay funding model in legislative priorities
Florida's most aging schools could see an influx of capital improvement funding if the State Board of Education gets its way in the 2017 legislative session.
The board is recommending among its priorities that lawmakers change the way they distribute PECO funds to take into account the actual maintenance and repair needs that schools have, rather than basing the allocations on a percentage of the past five years' average appropriation.
The revision would allocate money based on square footage and age of facilities, Department of Education director of government relations Tanya Cooper said.
"It would be driving dollars to where the need is," deputy commissioner Linda Champion explained.
Board member Tom Grady noted that the change would take money from one set of schools to help the others, calling it a "zero sum game." He questioned the concept, but did not challenge it as the board discussed the legislative goals.
Other ideas on the list include:
- Giving incentives to "high impact charter organizations" to come to school districts with areas of need, to help improve educational opportunities in under-served areas. Incentives would include immediate access to capital outlay money and the ability to file one application for multiple schools. This idea is not new, Cooper said, and has failed in past sessions.
- Phasing out eligibility requirements for second- through fifth-graders seeking to participate in full-time virtual education. Currently, they must have enrolled in a public school before entering the online program. That requirement would be eliminated.
- Requiring teacher preparation schools to offer four-year bachelors degrees within their graduate-level programs. This fits into Gov. Rick Scott's goal of making college education affordable, Cooper explained.
- Giving the education commissioner authority to coordinate resources for schools and colleges during emergencies, such as hurricanes.
- Allowing the department and school districts to post legal advertisements electronically, and not necessarily in newspapers, which Cooper called "very costly."
- Providing the Department of Education with copyright authority for materials developed for or by the department, to allow it an easier path to legal action against parties that inappropriately use, copy or publish the materials.