Today's news -- April 19, 2017




Senate panel backs wraparound services *

Struggling public schools in Florida would be encouraged to extend their days by at least one hour and offer students social services, such as health care, under a new Senate proposal. The Senate budget committee that oversees pre-kindergarten to 12th grade education advanced legislation Tuesday that would overhaul state laws governing districts’ mandatory efforts to turn around failing schools. State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, introduced the new language as an amendment to SB 1552. The existing bill contains his plan for expanding “best and brightest,” a teacher and principal merit pay program. The amendment provides more details about what the Senate will seek in an ultimate compromise with the House on HB 5105, the so-called “schools of hope” bill. Top senators have said they would support policies promoting charter schools in impoverished areas only if they also provide additional resources for traditional public schools that are failing. They have advocated for “community schools” models where schools offer “wraparound” services. Under the legislation, a new option for districts designing state-mandated turnaround plans would be to “enter into a formal agreement with a nonprofit … to implement an integrated student support service model that provides students and families with access to wrap-around services, including, but not limited to, health services, after-school programs, drug-prevention programs, college and career readiness, and food and clothing banks.” The bill notes schools might be eligible for additional state funding for such services. Other turnaround options under the amendment would be “implement[ing] an extended school day with at least 1 hour of additional learning time” or giving principals more power, including over staffing. The committee adopted the amendment and then passed SB 1552. It heads to two other committees. However, if it doesn’t pass, senators could still include language from the bill either in the budget or later in an omnibus education compromise. The Senate already agreed to include HB 5105 in budget conference committee discussions. Read the 17-page amendment here.


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