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Here is the link to SB 7070: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/07070
Quotes from this ARTICLE:
Does the state have so much money that it can fully fund our public education system, meet our other needs and then throw some money at those wanting to send their children to private schools using tax dollars? The answer is no. … Why would legislators, and Gov. Ron DeSantis, think the new program could pass constitutional scrutiny with tax dollars going directly to religious, private or for-profit schools? Perhaps it’s because the governor replaced three state Supreme Court justices who reached the mandatory retirement age. His conservative nominees are likely to view vouchers and separation of church and state differently than the more moderate or liberal justices they replaced.
Quotes from this ARTICLE:
[This might be the ONLY good part of the bill]:
SPB 7070 TRAIN: Enhance Support for Community Wrap-Around Services – Senate Priorities The legislation will also stabilize state support of neighborhood public schools with unique community needs. Leveraging the successful leadership of the Center for Community Schools, legislation will promote the expansion of, and encourage funding for, new Community Schools. Additionally, the legislation will secure Florida’s investment in the success of public schools in, or exiting, district-managed turnaround status through sustained support for wrap-around services such as after-school programs, extended school day or school year, counseling, or other support services.
SB 7070 passed one committee on March 6. HERE is the list of how the committee members voted. Lauren Book, Anitere Flores, and Jason Pizzo weren’t on the committee that voted March 6th but they are on the committee voting March 19th,
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Subject: Please vote no on SB 7070
Dear Members of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education,
Please vote no on SB 7070 when it reaches the committee on March 19th.
I have many questions. One of my questions is about lines 455 and 456:
(d) Any student participating in the program must remain in 455 attendance throughout the school year unless excused by the 456 school for illness or other good cause.
Here are my questions about that section. If the student doesn’t stay in the private school all year, will a public school be required to enroll the student? Will the public school be given the funds that would have been allocated to it if the student had originally enrolled in the public rather than the private school? Does the private school have to give the tuition back to the state?
One part of the bill I do like (and I hope you’ll include it in another bill after you vote NO on SB 7070) is the part that will increase funding for Community Schools. It is lines 630 to 725:
Section 4. Part VII of chapter 1003, Florida Statutes, 631 consisting of s. 1003.64, Florida Statutes, is created and 632 entitled “Public School Innovation.” 633 1003.64 Community School Grant Program.—It is the intent of 634 the Legislature to improve student success and well-being by 635 engaging and supporting parents and community organizations in 636 their efforts to positively impact student learning and 637 development. 638 (1) PURPOSE.—The Community School Grant Program is 639 established within the Department of Education to fund and 640 support the planning and implementation of community school 641 programs, subject to legislative appropriation. 642 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term: 643 (a) “Center for Community Schools” means the center 644 established within the University of Central Florida. 645 (b) “Community organization” means a nonprofit organization 646 that has been in existence for at least 3 years and serves 647 individuals within the county in which a community school is 648 located. 649 (3) COMMUNITY SCHOOL.— 650 (a) A community school is a public school that receives a 651 grant under this section and partners with a community 652 organization, a university or college, and a health care 653 provider to implement programs beyond the standard hours of 654 instruction which may include, but are not limited to, student 655 enrichment activities such as job training, internship 656 opportunities, and career counseling services; wellness 657 services; and family engagement programs. 658 (b) Each community school must designate a person of its 659 choosing as the community school program director. A community 660 school program director shall coordinate with the partners 661 specified under paragraph (a) to: 662 1. Facilitate the implementation of a community school 663 program. 664 2. Comply with the reporting requirements under paragraph 665 (5)(a). 666 (4) CENTER FOR COMMUNITY SCHOOLS.—The Center for Community 667 Schools is established within the University of Central Florida. 668 A center director shall head the Center for Community Schools. 669 At a minimum, the center director shall: 670 (a) Disseminate information about community schools to 671 community organizations; district school boards; state 672 universities and Florida College System institutions; and 673 independent, not-for-profit colleges and universities located 674 and chartered in this state which are accredited by the 675 Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges 676 and Schools and are eligible to participate in the William L. 677 Boyd, IV, Effective Access to Student Education Grant Program. 678 (b) Coordinate, facilitate, and oversee the implementation 679 of community schools that receive a grant under this section, 680 and submit an annual report to the commissioner pursuant to 681 paragraph (5)(b). 682 (c) Publish on the center’s website the application form 683 for: 684 1. Implementing a community school program. 685 2. Certification by the center as a community school. 686 (d) Publish on the center’s website the process and 687 criteria for: 688 1. Approving the application for implementing a community 689 school program under subparagraph (c)1. 690 2. Awarding the certification under subparagraph (c)2. 691 (e) Establish a process to administer grant funds awarded 692 under this section. 693 (f) Promote best practices and provide technical assistance 694 about community schools to community school program directors. 695 (5) REPORTS.— 696 (a) By July 1 of each year, each community school program 697 director shall submit to the center a report that includes, at a 698 minimum, the following information: 699 1. An assessment of the effectiveness of the community 700 school program in improving student success outcomes; 701 2. Any issues encountered in the design and execution of 702 the community school program; 703 3. Recommendations for improving the delivery of services 704 to students, families, and community members under the program; 705 4. The number of students, families, and community members 706 served under the program; and 707 5. Any other information requested by the center director. 708 (b) The center director shall review the reports submitted 709 under paragraph (a) and, by August 15 of each year, shall 710 provide to the commissioner: 711 1. A summary of the information reported by each community 712 school that receives a grant under this section; and 713 2. Recommendations for policy and funding investments to 714 improve the implementation and oversight of community school 715 programs and to remove any barriers to the expansion of 716 community schools. 717 (c) The commissioner shall review the summary and 718 recommendations submitted by the center director under paragraph 719 (b) and, by September 30 of each year, shall submit a report to 720 the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of 721 the House of Representatives. The annual report submitted by the 722 commissioner must, at a minimum, include information on the 723 status of community schools and his or her recommendations for 724 policy and funding investments to improve and expand community 725 schools.
Rather than increasing the funding for vouchers to subsidize private tuition, please use the public money to fund more Community schools. The majority of Florida students attend the free neighborhood and magnet schools. Let’s make those schools great! IF parents choose to send their kids to private schools, then please let them seek scholarships from private donors if they can’t afford the tuition.
If you’re going to continue to give tax credits to various corporations and individuals, then the recipient should be any 501(c)(3) that is doing charitable work that is believed to save the state government money. I hope you’ll consider making the credit only 30% of the donation. The current $ for $ credit means the corporation is NOT making a donation. They are simply giving their tax dollars to Step Up For Students. They haven’t actually made a donation, i.e. they just funneled the tax payment to Step Up For Students.