Students in K-12 public schools across Florida could attend any public school in the state so long as it's not at capacity, under open enrollment proposals that cleared their first House and Senate committees Wednesday.
The House Choice & Innovation Subcommittee advanced House Bill 669 from Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, despite objections from Democrats. Later, a majority of the Senate Pre-K-12 Education Committee also endorsed Senate Bill 886 from Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, with similar criticisms but less friction.
Both plans seek to remove geographic barriers parents and children face in terms of where a child can attend public school in Florida -- while giving priority to students who live within a school district already, as well as children of military service members.
Sprowls' proposal would allow open enrollment starting in the 2017-18 school year, but there's a complication. Allowing students to attend schools outside their county would affect how state and local dollars are used to pay for schools.
Sprowls' plan calls for a fiscal study through Florida Polytechnic University to analyze how the local share of state education dollars could be transferred among schools and districts. But that study wouldn't have to be done until November 2017 -- a few months into the first year that open enrollment would be allowed.