The big story: Florida’s already large school voucher program is getting bigger.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 1 offering taxpayer-funded vouchers and education savings accounts to all school-aged children in the state, four days after the Senate gave its final blessing.
“The State of Florida is No. 1 when it comes to education freedom and education choice, and today’s bill signing cements us in that No. 1 position, ” said the governor, who is widely expected to launch a bid for the Republican presidential nomination with education as a key plank in his agenda.
Florida is now among six states, including most recently Utah and Arkansas, to offer education savings accounts with at least 90% eligibility. Read more here.
Critics continued to pound away at the expansion, arguing it will decimate the public education system that about 85% of students use, Florida Politics reports.
The new law takes effect on July 1. It provides opportunities available for more parents and children than ever before. What’s available? Check out some of the key details.
Statue of David: Parents at the Tallahassee Classical School turned out in record numbers to complain about the charter school board forcing out their principal over the use of a photo of the nude “David” statue in a art lesson, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. Some called for the resignation of the board chairperson who defended the move.
Social-emotional learning: School districts across Florida and the nation are abandoning the programs and services once heralded as a way to help children learn how to deal better with one another amid criticism from the political right, USA Today reports.
School board elections: The Senate advanced a resolution that would ask voters whether to return to partisan school board elections, Florida Politics reports.
Parental rights: The Duval County school district’s experience with book bans became an example for Congressional Democrats in their debate against a federal parental rights law, Jacksonville Today reports. • Gov. Ron DeSantis is getting national attention for his education policies and the way they are playing out in schools, Yahoo News reports.
Gender lessons: Attorneys for parents and students challenging the state’s law limiting lessons about gender identity and sexual orientation have appealed a federal judge’s decision dismissing their case, the News Service of Florida reports. • As Florida lawmakers seek to further expand the law, other states aim to replicate it, the Associated Press reports.
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Bus schedules: Palm Beach County school bus drivers are opposing a bill that would require changes to school start times, saying it will create a logistical nightmare at a time when drivers are in short supply, WPTV reports. The bill passed another Senate committee on Monday, the News Service of Florida reports.
Budgeting: Larger than expected property tax revenue will allow the Monroe County school district to boost its financial reserves to 13% of its annual budget, the Key West Citizen reports.
Today in Tallahassee ... The House Appropriations Committee meets at 8 a.m., when it will consider it proposed education budget HB 5101. • The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee will take up SB 52 on social media use in schools when it meets at 8:30 a.m. • The Senate Appropriations Committee will consider its budget proposals, as well as SB 244 on teacher rights and SB 7026 on higher education finances, when it meets at 9 a.m. • The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee will consider four bills when it meets at 2 p.m.
Other school news
A Volusia County elementary school held a student election for their favorite book. It was a way to encourage reading, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.
The Osceola County school district closed down a charter school over financial problems last summer. A new audit revealed additional questions about potential misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars, WFTV reports.
At least seven Seminole County teens were denied entry to their prom as they arrived. Confusion over the school’s online ticketing system appeared to be the culprit, WKMG reports.
From the police blotter ... A Seminole County teacher was placed on leave after being arrested on drug charges, WKMG reports.
From the court docket ... The Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit to stop the Orange County school district from selling an historically relevant piece of property, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Don’t miss a story. Here’s a link to yesterday’s roundup.
Before you go ... Admit it. You always wondered.
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