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Florida Senate committee advances deregulation bills for school districts

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(The Center Square) — Florida lawmakers advanced three new pieces of legislation this week designed to lessen regulatory burdens for school districts.

Senate Bill 7000, which is titled the Deregulation of Public Schools/Instructional, Administrative, and Support Personnel, is a bill sponsored by the Education PreK-12 Committee and was presented by Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami, to the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee on Tuesday.

According to Calatayud, the bill would allow more flexibility in teacher and instructional personnel salaries, offer multi-year contracts, expand teacher apprenticeship programs, and streamline initial and renewal requirements for teacher certification.

In closing, Calatayud stated that the deregulation bills are the next step in recruiting and retaining teachers.

“It’s such a serious pursuit to make sure that the people that are shaping the next generation are given every possible opportunity to enter into that profession, to feel that they are celebrated within that profession, well compensated, and this is the logistics, providing the tools to make those outcomes possible,” Calatayud said. The bill was reported favorably.

SB 7002, sponsored by the Fiscal Policy and the Education PreK-12 committees and presented by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast, was also reported favorably by the Fiscal Policy Committee.

According to Hutson, the bill would simplify school board rulemaking with open meetings, delegate more authority to superintendents for efficient district policies, allow online meeting notices and electronic notifications for student issues and simplify financial requirements for school boards.

SB 7004, if passed, would deregulate public schools, assessment and accountability, instruction along with education choice. Sen. Corey Simon, R-Quincy, presented the bill. It would give greater authority to school districts to determine student progress while allowing the implementation of school improvement programs and providing instructional material.

If the bill became law, parental rights would be expanded, high-stakes assessments needed to earn a high school diploma would be eliminated, and low-performing schools would be given additional time to implement a sustainable plan.

When met with criticism over removing specific high school tests to gain a high school diploma — namely Algebra 1 and English language arts — Simon noted that not one college or university is asking for these scores.

“We are holding back a whole generation of kids that can enter the workforce that have no intention of going into our traditional post-secondary institutions,” Simon said, adding that these students intend to join the military or gain apprenticeships for trade careers.

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