Florida School Boards Association joins chorus seeking HB 7069 veto
Florida has two groups advocating on behalf of school boards, and they are not always asking for the the same things.
They disagreed on vouchers — in fact, the Florida Coalition of School Board members split from the larger, more established Florida School Boards Association over that issue — and now they disagree over the 278-page HB 7069 that lawmakers passed in the final hours of their spring session.
The FSBA on Tuesday joined the rising opposition to the measure, adding its voice to that of superintendent, teacher and parent groups pleading with Gov. Rick Scott to kill the bill. The organization offers several reasons for its stance, ranging from the way the bill was developed to the specific provisions within it.
"As a result, we consider the bill to be substantially flawed and unworthy of your approval to be enacted into law," executive director Andrea Messina and president Tim Harris wrote in their letter to the governor.
Among the group's specific concerns, it lists the state's proposed added restrictions on school district use of Title I federal funds, the possible awarding of local education agency status to charter schools (which it claims is inconsistent with the state constitution), and the expansion of the Best and Brightest teacher bonuses.
More than anything, the FSBA criticizes the Legislature's move to require that charter schools receive a share of school districts' capital millage tax revenue, regardless of need.
"Coupled with the strained education budget adopted by the Florida Legislature, we believe that the enactment of HB 7069 will produce a legacy of issues for the Florida Legislature and future Governors of this state," Messina and Harris write, urging Scott to "do what's good for the state and veto HB 7069."
The bill has not yet been delivered to the governor. Once he receives it, he will have 15 days to act.
UPDATE: The Florida Association of District School Superintendents made its formal request for a veto later Tuesday.
"The budget fails to meet the basic funding needs of Florida's nearly 2.8 million public education students, and despite some good education policy in HB 7069 the overall damage to public education far outweighs the good," FADSS president Malcolm Thomas of Escambia County said in a released statement.