With barely three days left before lawmakers have to finalize the annual state budget if session is to end as scheduled May 5, Floridians still have very little idea what kind of compromise lawmakers are crafting behind closed doors when it comes to the most consequential reforms this year that affect K-12 public schools.
As of Saturday evening, House and Senate leaders had yet to release any proposed amended language for policy bills tied to the education budget, such as those calling for:
▪ A $214 million expansion of annual “Best & Brightest” bonuses for teachers and principals (HB 7069) that rely on their personal academic achievements.
▪ And reforms to how school construction and maintenance dollars — from the state and from local property taxes — are shared between traditional and charter schools (SB 376).
Hialeah Republican Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. and Altamonte Springs Republican Sen. David Simmons, the House and Senate chairmen building the $15 billion pre-K-12 schools budget, concluded their conference subcommittee’s work earlier Saturday after reaching agreement on a small increase for general school spending but without hashing out — at least, publicly — any of the differences the chambers have on these major programs.
Photo credit: Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times