Mandatory recess bill heads to Senate floor
A bill to require 20 minutes of daily recess in all Florida public elementary schools is now headed to the floor of the chamber that would not hear the measure just a year ago.
SB 78 won approval Thursday in the Senate Appropriations Committee, its final stop before consideration by the full body. A similar proposal was stopped in the 2016 session in Senate Education, where then-chairman John Legg argued that such decisions should remain local and refused to schedule discussion.
A state coalition of "recess moms" did not give up, and found a more receptive Senate this spring, led by bill sponsor and President Pro Tem Anitere Flores. Nineteen senators of the 40 are named co-sponsors.
"This is an issue almost everyone can agree on, that most kids do need a little mental or physical break," Flores said during the committee hearing.
She noted that some districts do offer play time, but many others do not and need a shove in that direction.
Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat who heads the state superintendents association, repeated his concerns that schools have only so much time in the day. To add recess, "we will be taking away from something, whatever that might be."
Montford raised similar concerns during a debate Wednesday over requiring high school students to take a half-credit financial literacy course.
He called for a deeper discussion about academic expectations and the length of the school day. But Montford, who has co-sponsored the bill, did not stand in the way.
An identical bill in the House has not moved. Flores said the recess moms "have their work cut out for them in the House" if they hope to see the bill become law.