Please tell the committee members to vote no on SB 7070

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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,

Suggested email:
To: diaz.manny@flsenate.gov, baxley.dennis@flsenate.gov, book.lauren@flsenate.gov, flores.anitere@flsenate.gov, montford.bill@flsenate.gov, pizzo.jason@flsenate.gov, simmons.david@flsenate.gov, stargel.kelli@flsenate.gov
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         1003.64Community 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.

Sincerely,
(Your Name)

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