School choice bills continue to flow in Florida Legislature
Increasing students' school options remains a high priority for several Florida lawmakers, who continue to file bills aiming to accomplish that goal.
The latest in a string of measures is Rep. Chris Sprowls' revival of his spring effort to codify student transfers across district boundaries. Last time, school district officials picked holes in the proposal, raising concerns about time lines and definitions that House Education chairwoman Marlene O'Toole deemed "adult problems."
This time around, Sprowls' approach is more sweeping. Rather than deal with how to determine what "capacity" means, HB 669 proposes that districts determine which schools have available seats according to existing rules, and then open them to any student from any district:
Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, or earlier if authorized by the school district, a parent may enroll his or her child in and transport his or her child to any public school that has not reached capacity in any school district in the state. Consistent with the priorities specified in subsection (3), the school district shall accept the student and report the student for purposes of the school district's funding pursuant to the Florida Education Finance Program.
Last year, this concept died as the House and Senate battled over non-education issues. But expanding school choice was a priority for both chamber leaders, and it's expected to be a hot issue again this winter. Senate Education chairman John Legg said he had spoken to his counterparts in the House, and planned to have hearings on their top education priorities early to ensure they get a fair vetting.
The full list of key bills should be out after Thanksgiving.