1. News
  2. /
  3. Gradebook

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. Florida's VAM formula confuses many teachers, who call it an unfair and invalid measure of their performance. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  2. The exterior of the new Nova Southeast University Tampa Bay Regional Campus, Clearwater can be seen on Friday. September 20, 2019.  SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    Nova Southeastern University’s new campus off the Courtney Campbell Causeway was funded by Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel.
  3. Michelle Brandon, center, was one of four teachers at Pasco County's Hudson Elementary to be removed after two weeks of classes because of her state "VAM score." Here she is seen, before her transfer, on the first day of school this year, reviewing classroom rules with students. Later, when they broke the news to students, “there were a lot of tears,” Brandon recalled. "It was very difficult.” JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times
    It’s a number that is mostly based on test scores. The state says it helps put the best teachers in struggling schools, but many say it’s not valid.
  4. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  5. Jeff Eakins and MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough's last two superintendents, were hired from inside the school system. So have all others since 1967. Times staff
    Go to the school district website before 8 a.m. Monday to state your case.
  6. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  7. The Pasco County school district would rezone the Seven Oaks subdivision from the Wiregrass Ranch High feeder pattern to the Cypress Creek High feeder pattern, beginning in the 2020-21 school year. Pasco County school district
    The Seven Oaks subdivision is the primary target for rezoning.
  8. Fortify Florida is a new app that allows for anonymous reporting of suspected school threats. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  9. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  10. 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.