College & University Presidential Searches, SB 520

What the bill does

  • SB 520 (full text of bill)/HB 703 (full text) provides an exemption from public records requirements for any personal identifying information of an applicant for president of a state university or a Florida College System institution. This process, which has long been conducted in the sunshine would now be conducted without openness or transparency.
  • Includes all instructional personnel, not just classroom teachers, in the teacher salary allocation funds.
  • Removes current requirement for a “grandfathered” and a “performance” salary schedule in favor of a single salary schedule for all instructional personnel.
  • By eliminating the performance salary schedule, the bill removes current requirement stipulating highly effective teachers raises must be greater than effective teachers.
  • Repeals the current restrictions on salary restrictions for advanced degrees put in place in 2011.
    • Districts would have the ability to negotiate salary enhancements for advanced degrees whether or not the advance degree is in a teacher’s area of certification. 

What’s Next

SB 520 (full text) has passed all of its committees in the Senate and is ready for the Senate floor.

HB 703 (full text) will be heard in the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Feb. 3 at 2:00 p.m.

Talking Points

  • This bill is a solution in search of a problem. Florida’s colleges and universities are consistently atop the national rankings. There is no need to revise the process for choosing the leaders of Florida’s institutions of higher education.
  • Currently, presidential searches are community events open to students, faculty, staff, alumni and local business leaders. Removing the search from the sunshine takes the community out of the process of selecting college and university presidents.
  • Florida has one of the most transparent state governments in the nation thanks to our sunshine laws. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 520 would limit citizens’ access to our state government by hiding the presidential search process for Florida’s universities and colleges.
  • Florida’s university and college presidents are some of the most powerful unelected public officials in our state, controlling billions of dollars through college and university budgets. As it stands, the selection process is completely open to the public, giving local communities and Florida’s citizens a voice in the selection of these powerful figures. SB 520 would hide the information of presidential candidates until the final phase of the process.
  • The citizens of Florida have a right to know who the applicants for these incredibly influential positions are and have a right to have a say in the process.
  • Florida’s higher education system has been ranked as the best in the nation, all while having the selection process accessible to the public. This bill would needlessly block vital information from the people of Florida.
  • SB 520 will only help the powerful and well connected and will invite political cronyism and corruption into our higher education system.

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