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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida Gifted Network worries funding might be threatened



A proposed new rule aimed at expanding access to gifted education in Florida has gifted advocates worried that funding for the program is in jeopardy.

Much of the rule, titled Special Instructional Programs for Students who are Gifted, focuses on how to get more children identified and placed into advanced instruction. Within the proposal, though, gifted education is referred to as a "support service" rather than as a "program."

And that has the Florida Gifted Network worried.

"Because Florida funds programs, it appears that a significant implication of the Rule change would be removal of gifted from the ESE Guaranteed Allocation, the funding mechanism for gifted education," FGN president Jennifer Martin told the Gradebook via email. "The Florida Gifted Network agrees with the intent of the proposed Rule and we support efforts to ensure equitable access to special instructional programs for the gifted for Florida's K-12 students. However, we disagree with the substantial re-wording of the Rule. We believe there are better ways to achieve the same result."

Parents have begun peppering the Florida Department of Education with questions about this change.

Cheryl Etters, a department spokeswoman, said department brass have not interpreted the rule to affect funding of gifted programs.

"'Gifted' is defined in statute" as a special education service, Etters said. "That is not changing."

Martin said even if the funding mechanism remains unaltered, without added money the rule could pose problems.

"Regardless of the Guaranteed Allocation funding issue," she said, "the Rule imposes an unfunded mandate on districts with additional requirements of identification and with the expected additional numbers of students admitted to the program without an increase in the Guaranteed Allocation."

This all could make for a lively debate when the DOE holds a workshop on the rule next Friday in Tallahassee. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2016 4:55pm]


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