Varsity Sports Exemption Gets Boost from Senate

Varsity Sports Exemption Gets Boost from Senate  

Senator Flores Introduces Amendment

envision2-COLLAGEEvery train has some ‘cool’ cars too!  SB 926 maybe this year’s educational train bill and there are some good parts to it. This amendment is one of the good parts.

For a number of years I have been lobbying anyone that would listen in the Florida legislature to revise Florida Statute 1003.4282 to better apply participation in competitive athletics to the physical education wavier in high school.

This session Citrus County’s Florida House of Representative Ralph E. Massullo, MD, graciously ran HB 6015 and Senator Debbie Mayfield ran the Senate companion bill SB 782.  Yesterday in SB 926’s final committee stop in the Senate Rules Committee, Senator Anitere Flores introduced an amendment that includes the language that Rep. Massullo and Sen. Mayfield have in their bills respective bills and included it in SB 926.  This is most encouraging and positive. Sen. Flores’s SB 926 with this amendment passed Senate Rules Committee unanimously. Next SB 926 moves to the full Senate floor.

If passed what could result is a significant number of students that participate in interscholastic sports would no longer have to also take P.E. at the school or virtually and thereby give up other course options.

Florida law requires that a student achieves one-credit in physical education for graduation.  Currently there are P.E. waivers that a student can get if they successfully complete marching band, JORTC, dance and on a stricter basis, interscholastic sport, due to the courses’ physical endurance work. This amendment would improve the current statute to read, “Participation in an interscholastic sport at the junior varsity or varsity level for two full seasons shall satisfy the one-credit requirement in physical education.”

I appreciate Sen. Flores bring forward this amendment and Senator Wilton Simpson, who has also been encouraging and helping improve this statute.

Stay tune…

Is another new train bill’s whistle starting to blow?

Is another new train bill’s whistle starting to blow?  

2017 educational train bill may be getting ready to pull out of the station

a28a097187a9bf81e1263f276934e6e1Last year Florida saw the passage of HB7029, a “train bill” that wreak havoc for Florida public education. (see blog; Legislators are boarding a ‘Chartered Train’ Wreck, Feb. 28, 2016)

Many right now having begun to express that they are anticipating the creating of at least one “train” of education bills this legislative session– combining all or part of several bills into one omnibus “train bill”.

How this can happen? In general, to be eligible to be added to a train, in some cases, legislators are satisfied if a bill has passed at least one committee of reference while, in other cases, the more stringent requirement that a bill pass all committees of reference is pursued.  But, in either case, there are always exceptions and ways to work around these general practices, particularly as time begins to grow short toward the end of the session.  These efforts to move bills through committees of reference and line up amendments to bills that are moving will continue and happen rapidly in the coming weeks.

We need to be watching for this protentional train that is coming.  Florida public education doesn’t need another train wreck like last year.

Please continue to speak up to Legislators.  Again, we have some fair minded-common sense leaders locally representing us in Senate Simpson and Rep. Massullo, but they cannot do this heavy lifting without other good legislators.

Follow these links to contact our State Senators and State Representatives.

Chronicle Weighs in on Charter Bills

40341-12Chronicle Weighs in on Charter Bills

Chronicle: “Transfer of $200 million to charter schools stands only to weaken public schools, harm Florida’s students and potentially enrich connected lawmakers”

I encourage you to please read this important and excellent op-ed column by the Citrus Chronicle Editorial Board, “Charter Push a Betrayal of Public School Students”, published in Thursday, April 13, 2017,

I want to thank the Chronicle Editorial Board for once again clearly understanding the continual tragedy the Florida Legislature is doing to public education and for the wrongful bias towards charter schools.

Keep in mind that HB 15/SB 1314 and HB 5105 charter capital funding is on top of the House budget proposal would provide $100 million in PECO (Public Educational Capital Outlay) funding for the maintenance and repair of charter schools and only $20 million for public schools. The Senate budget is the same as last year that provides $75 million each to charter and public schools.

Let’s not forget the attendance differences, there are about 300,000 Florida charter school students, compared to approximately 2.7 million Florida public school students.

Please continue to speak up to Legislators.  Again, we have some fair minded-common sense leaders locally representing us in Senate Simpson and Rep. Massullo, but they cannot do this heavy lifting without other good legislators.

Follow these links to contact our State Senators and State Representatives.

Gradebook Podcast tals to FSBA about 2017 Legislature

Gradebook Podcast tals to FSBA about 2017 Legislature

Andrea-Messena-2015Please listen to the Tampa Bay Times Gradebook podcast with host Time Education Reporter, Jeffrey Solochek as he interviews Florida School Boards Association’s executive director Andrea Messina to talk about the current Florida Legislative session.

Ms. Messina I have the highest respect for and she is one of our state’s leading public educational policy experts.  Ms. Messina is a former English teacher, Charlotte County School Board Member, and FSBA Professional Development Coordinator.  She was my new school board member, teacher when I was first elected to office and she is still someone I reach out to on many school board issues.

This Gradebook podcast addresses several issues that the Florida legislature is working on– in particular, capital dollar funding for school districts.

Ms. Messina does an excellent job explaining how current proposed legislation looks to further reduce, the already reduced capital funding to local school districts.

Please take the time and listen to the Gradebook Podcast:

Citrus cleans up at Florida State Science and Engineering Fair

Citrus cleans up at Florida State Science and Engineering Fair

C8QAQcGU0AMelv-District Science Special, Richard Crowley shared today that Citrus County students performed well at the 2017 Florida State Science and Engineering Fair. Congratulations to the winners and to all the students that advanced to the State level.

Citrus winners from the state science fair:

Kelly Laplante: 4th Place, Senior Division, Engineering category; AES

Truman Roland: 4th Place, Senior Division, Microbiology category; CHS

Joshua Brunk: 4th Place, Junior Division, Environmental Engineering category; IMS

Raine Leonard: Honorable Mention, Junior Division, Earth & Environmental Sciences category; CSMS

Alisa Luthra: Recognition Award, Senior Division, Environmental Engineering category; AES

Elise Leturno: Recognition Award, Junior Division, Animal Sciences; LMS

Bayley Edwards: Special Award ($25 from Lake County Regional Science & Engineering Fair), Senior
Division, Environmental Engineering Category, CRHS

Sierra Creasy: Special Award ($150 from American Society of Civil Engineers, Florida Section), Junior
Division, Engineering category, LMS

Robert Fowler: Special Award ($25 from Hillsborough Regional Science & Engineering Fair), Junior
Division, Animal Sciences category, CRMS

HB 373 State continues to take away local control

HB 373 State continues to take away local control

Worsens teacher shortage

bof_teacher_shortageRecently the Chronicle Editorial Board referred to our past state legislature as “hypocrites”, and they did with good reason. They shared, “…Florida Legislature is constantly complaining that the federal government — was always trying to tell them what to do.” The Editorial Board then went on to say, “the same members of the Florida Legislature turn around and do exactly what they accuse the federal government of doing. State government is constantly trying to tell local government how to do their business.”  (Read the editorial:

highstakestestingThis legislative session one of the bills that continues to remove local control and interferes with the retaining of and attracting of competent teachers is HB 373 (companion bill SB 856), the bill if passed would, “Prohibits district school board from awarding annual contract for instructional personnel under certain circumstances; prohibits district school board from altering or limiting its authority to award or not award annual contract; provides applicability.”

2075994011-teacherblameOver the last decade the state legislature in Florida and state legislatures around the country have passed law after law that has caused fewer and fewer individuals to be interested in becoming teachers and have also caused those that are teachers to leave the profession.  In fact, the Orlando Sentinel reported this week, “40 percent of teachers leaving Florida’s public schools [will leave the profession] within five years after starting”.

In 2011, the Florida Legislature passed and was signed into law SB 736 that among many things, tied teachers’ salaries to student’s grades and test scores. It also required all school districts to adopt new salary schedules with new state requirements.

teachersSB 736, also took away the freedom that local districts and bargaining units had to locally negotiate equitable agreements. Under the SB 736 laws all new teachers hired after July 1, 2012 would no longer have “continuing contract”. Meaning if you were doing a good job there was no guarantee that you couldn’t be fired (or non-renewed) at the end of every school year without cause. For those that felt called to the noble profession of teaching continuing contract was an important benefit for the limited salary an individual could earn compared to that of working outside of the teaching profession.

SB 736, took away continuing contract way from newly hired teachers. It is interesting to know that SB 736 only took away continuing contract for teachers, in fact no other law in Florida for any other professions has takes away continuing contract.  Public school teachers were and continue to be targeted in this way.

Following the period after SB 736 passed into law districts and bargaining units in order to retain good teachers understood that some type of continuing contract offering was essential, and so districts added language to contracts to help give limited assurances to teachers that if they had met their annual expectations and had received at least an effective rating on their annual evaluation that they would be retained for the coming school year. The fear was that some in the legislature that had targeted the teaching profession when they passed SB 736 would try and pass new laws to stop districts from doing this.  Enter 2017 and HB 373.

Florida’s teaching shortage is not likely to improve anytime soon.  It will get worse before it will get better. Bills like HB 373 will only serve to make matters worse and continue to have Tallahassee control more of our local government’s decisions.

I urge you to contact your legislators and ask them not to support HB 373 and SB 856, as these bills only makes the matters of our teacher shortage worse for our schools and students.