Democratic senator files bill to modify HB 7069 'Schools of Hope' provisions

Sen. Lauren Book has proposed changes to HB 7069.
Sen. Lauren Book has proposed changes to HB 7069.
Published Aug. 25, 2017

With all the noise over perceived problems with HB 7069, the Florida Legislature's much criticized spring education omnibus bill, it comes as no surprise that bills to revise the measure might follow.

The first of what could be many comes from Sen. Lauren Book, a Broward County Democrat who opposed the bill when it squeaked through the Senate 20-18.

Book takes aim at one of the law's signature sections, the Schools of Hope program with which Republican lawmakers seek to establish a system of charter schools to move into areas where traditional public schools have long records of low state test scores.

In SB 216, Book seeks to restrict loan financing for these "Hope" charter schools to those that not only serve areas of low-performing schools, but that also enroll at least 75 percent of their students from those schools. That change would prevent a school from opening in a neighborhood and then serving children primarily from other locations.

Book also would bar the schools from hiring teachers who lack state certification. The current law allows Schools of Hope to employ instructional staff who do not meet the statutory requirements.

Bills to revamp HB 7069 face a tough path to approval in 2018. House leaders have made clear that they do not intend to consider many revisions, given the rules took effect only weeks ago and need time to gauge their effect.

Ten school boards meanwhile have announced their plan to sue the state over the legislation, claiming the Legislature improperly usurped school district powers.