By Matt Reed
Brevard Public Schools
Brevard Public Schools has appealed to its legislative delegation -- and will continue to lobby for – new funding that would support teachers, improve skills training for students and improve the school-grading system. The school board and the district’s lobbyists in Tallahassee, Capital City Consulting, also will press for continued funding of school resource officers in Brevard schools. The board publicly approved the following legislative priorities in December and met with state representatives and senators from the Space Coast on Jan. 15. The legislative session starts in March.
Increase base student allocation
Provide at least an inflationary increase in basic per-student funding at schools across Florida, as the state Department of Education has proposed.
Last year, Brevard saw only a 47-cent increase to base per-student spending as most new revenue was directed to school-security improvements.
Safe Schools/resource officers
Sustain or increase funding for districts to employ full-time resource officers for every school.
Funding to study model transportation program
Brevard Public Schools seeks to serve as a Florida model program in which full and accurate funding for transportation would be coupled with new efficiencies to be identified by a proposed study. Besides making more operating dollars available for instruction, the efficiencies could allow the district to offer lower-cost transportation contracts to charter schools and expanded service to BPS industry-certification programs. Today, Florida’s school-funding formula covers about half the actual cost of busing for school districts, causing a deficit in Brevard of $8 million-$10 million a year that must be covered with operating funds that could otherwise support instructional costs.
Welding program – Astronaut High
BPS seeks a $1 million appropriation to add a welding program in North Brevard, supporting a priority for local employers and filling one of the gaps identified by BPS’ industry-alignment audit. This appropriation is sponsored by state Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando, who respresents northern Brevard.
Cocoa High construction-training program
This $200,000 state K-12 education appropriation would buy all the tools and construction equipment necessary to train career-and-technical education students for construction trades at Cocoa Jr./Sr. High School. For its part, BPS is paying the costs for the renovated facility, curriculum and teaching staff. Local contractors already have created internship and apprenticeship programs for students in this program. This appropriation is sponsored by state Rep. Tyler Sorois, R-Cocoa, who represents central Brevard.
BPS supports HB 77, by Rep. Plasencia, which would give school boards flexibility on performance-pay scales and could, in turn, reduce student assessment exams created solely to measure teachers. The bill would:
· Give school districts flexibility to again consider advanced degrees or National Board Certification in setting salary schedules;
· Authorize -- rather than require -- school boards to adopt pay-for-performance schedules;
Testing days – combine some subject sessions
Limit the FSA exam and other state assessments to one day per subject instead of two testing sessions over days for some subjects such as ELA and math. This would ease complications with scheduling during the compressed year-end testing window passed by the Legislature and mitigate the inevitable delays in transcripts, test scores and teacher VAM scores likely to be caused by slower (and now mandatory) paper-and-pencil testing.
Add JROTC enrollment to school-grading data on career/college readiness
Include JROTC enrollment in the Department of Education’s measurement of secondary schools’ college-and-career readiness. The military is widely recognized as a good job and career for many Florida students. And JROTC courses are aligned with work skills and academy requirements such as principles of navigation in Air Force JROTC and maritime geography in Navy JROTC. Cadets begin earning college scholarships at as many as 300 institutions as early as ninth grade.
Best-and-Brightest bonuses – make more educators eligible
Clarify and/or expand the state definition of teachers who can qualify for Best-and-Brightest bonuses to include staff who teach students and courses with state-recognized codes – but who have titles such as media specialist or counselor. Differing interpretations between the DOE and state Auditor General have caused some districts to initially include those personnel, only to be told later to repay the money.
State health standards for carcinogens in water
The School Board has joined Brevard cities in passing a resolution calling on the state of Florida to adopt health standards for two contaminants. The carcinogenic chemicals perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), were found in unhealthful concentrations in groundwater in Cocoa Beach and at nearby Patrick Air Force Base, probably from firefighting foam. But there are no state standards for PFOA and PFOS in groundwater or drinking water, leading to confusion among parents and residents.