(The Center Square) — The Florida Senate Committee on Education PreK-12 approved several measures that would remove barriers to child care funding for low and middle-income families, expand career choice for high school students and increase security on school campuses.
Senate Bill 916 is sponsored by state Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Miami and would revise the state’s school readiness program concerning eligibility, funding and program plans. Calatayud stated that low-income workers in Florida with children are set to face a “catastrophic social benefit fiscal cliff” by 2026.
According to Calatayud, the bill would modify the definition of economically disadvantaged to use state median income, rather than the federal poverty level when determining eligibility and for reporting requirements. The bill would further modify the method of determining the distribution of funds to early learning coalitions, expanding access across the state.
SB 1356 is a school safety bill sponsored by Calatayud and would authorize sheriffs to waive certain requirements for school guardian candidates under certain conditions. The bill would require that school principals provide instruction to students on the use of the mobile suspicious activity reporting tool, at least on an annual basis.
SB 1026 is sponsored by Sen. Erin Grall, R-Fort Pierce. The bill would change the state’s school readiness programs to better support children, providers and early learning coalitions. The bill would prohibit “private prekindergarten providers and public school curricula from using a coordinated screening and progress monitoring program or other specified methods for direct student instruction.”
Also bill sponsored by Grall is SB 820, who explained that child care-related employee turnover and absenteeism costs employers $3.7 billion annually. The bill would incentivize businesses to assist their employees with child care costs by offering tax credits.
SB 460 is sponsored by committee Chair Sen. Corey Simon, R-Quincy and would provide an exemption to work under specified conditions. The bill would expand career opportunities and work experience to students who are ages 16-17 and are wanting to enter into a trade once they have finished high school.
The committee proposed SB 7038, which was presented by Sen. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville. He explained that the bill would revise and expand eligibility requirements for a New Worlds Scholarship Account. School districts and prekindergarten providers would be required to notify parents of eligible students of the scholarship process.