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School Boards Association looks to new ideas for 2020 legislative platform

Testing, teacher pay and pre-k appear on the preliminary list of the group’s priorities.
SCOTT KEELER | Times The Florida School Boards Association is preparing its legislative platform in advance of the 2020 session. Committee meetings begin in September.
Published Aug. 19
Updated Aug. 19

A year ago, with school safety still high on Florida’s list of concerns, the state’s school boards association focused much of its legislative platform on increasing campus security with armed officers and hardened facilities.

Having gotten much of what it asked for, the association is looking to new ideas for the 2020 session, for which committee meetings begin in September.

Testing and teacher pay could rise to the top of the heap, as the organization whittles down the ideas up for consideration. Florida School Boards Association leaders have sent out a list of 12 possibilities, scaled back from nearly 100 that members from across the state submitted.

One of them ties into legislation filed last year by Democrats Sen. Annette Taddeo and Rep. Cindy Polo. The lawmakers called for allowing students still learning English to be allowed to take state exams in their native language.

The bill didn’t go anywhere in 2019, and the Department of Education has repeatedly refused to acquiesce on the concept for its federal accountability plan, despite guidance to make “every effort” to accommodate the speakers of the most-spoken other languages.

The FSBA is poised to ask for the change, along with a reduction in the number of state-required tests. It could go even further by calling for the elimination of the requirement that state end-of-course exams count as 30 percent of a student’s course grade. As the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported this weekend, that mandate has led to some confusion and debate over what it means, and how it is applied across the state.

The group also has its eyes on improving teacher pay, something Gov. Ron DeSantis has said must be addressed. On its list is a push for a 3 percent increase in the base student allocation, which districts can spend without any added requirements, with a focus on putting more money into recruiting and retaining teachers.

In that same vein, the FSBA includes on its short list a recommendation for loan-forgiveness programs, streamlined certification requirements and related moves aimed at making it easier for schools to find and keep high quality teachers.

On another subject, the school boards group includes a plank related to improving the funding, teacher qualifications, curriculum and assessment for prekindergarten — another subject the governor recently has addressed as critical.

Generally, the FSBA issues a priority list with only five or six priorities. So some on the preliminary document are likely to be cut.

The group’s legislative steering committee meets in mid September to vote on its platform.


  1. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  2. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  3. This image from a Pinellas County Schools video shows an armed police officer running to respond to a fictional active shooter.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  4. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.
  5. Hillsborough schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia holds a back-to-school press conference at Rampello K-8 School, [TIMES files]
    MaryEllen Elia, who led the Hillsborough district from 2005 to 2015, has been an educator since 1970.
  6. Jeff Eakins and MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough's last two superintendents, were hired from inside the school system. So have all others since 1967. [TIMES FILES] Times staff
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    The board’s 2019-20 budget totals $1.39 billion.
  8. The DeLucio family of Trinity toured the Mitchell High School campus and showed the visit on their YouTube channel, which has more than 1 million subscribers. Many parents, students and school officials were not amused. YouTube
    The proposed policy comes up for a vote on Oct. 1.
  9. United School Employees of Pasco president Don Peace denounces the school district's pay raise proposal in a YouTube video sent to all district employees Sept. 9, 2019. United School Employees of Pasco
    The local teachers union already has denounced the idea.
  10. Goodwill's BookWorks preschool literacy program strives to instill a love of reading and helps provide children books.
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