Education is always a top public policy issue in Florida, and the 2019 legislative session was no different. This year, lawmakers made major investments in K-12 funding, expanded career and workforce education, revised school safety policies, expanded educational choice, modified teacher certification requirements, strengthened the state’s college access and articulation pathways, and much more.

Highlights from the 2019-20 Budget

  • Total K-12 Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) funding of $21.9 billion, an increase of $783 million
  • K-12 per-student funding increase of $242.60, for a total of $7,672 per student
  • $10 million to fund apprenticeships through the creation of the Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program
  • Safe Schools Allocation (for school resource officers, etc) increase of $18 million, for a total of $180 million
  • Mental health allocation increase of $5.7 million, for a total of $75 million
  • Turnaround School Supplemental Services allocation of $45.5 million
  • $10 million in professional development and incentive funds for teachers receiving training in computer science
  • Gardiner Scholarship funding increase of $23 million, for a total of $147.9 million

Major Policy Changes

HB 1027/Early Learning

  • Requires the Office of Early Learning to establish pathways to professional development for early learning teachers in the School Readiness program

SB 7070/K-12 Education

  • Creates the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, a state-funded educational savings account (ESA) for low-income students
  • Revises the Schools of Hope program for low-performing public schools
  • Revises teacher certification requirements in regards to licensure exams
  • Modifies eligibility and awards for the Best and Brightest Teacher and Principal bonus program
  • Establishes the Community School Grant Program

SB 7030/Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission

  • Requires school boards, charter governing boards, and sheriffs to work together in order to comply with safe-school officer requirements
  • Expands the Aaron Feis Guardian Program by allowing teachers to be armed on a volunteer basis, after the required 123 hours of training, and upon approval of the superintendent

SB 190/Higher Education

  • Revises requirements for the Bright Futures Scholarship program and relaxes tuition surcharges to create more flexibility for students and to encourage degree completion
  • Strengthens Florida’s “2+2” articulation agreements between colleges and universities

HB 7071/Workforce Education

  • Creates the “SAIL to 60” program (Strengthening Alignment between Industry and Learning), with the goal of 60% of working-age adults to earn a high-value postsecondary certificate, degree, or training experience by 2030
  • Reorganizes the Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC) into the Florida Talent Development Council, which will focus more on workforce development
  • Requires all districts to offer a ½ credit financial literacy course elective
  • Allows students to substitute a computer science course for a required math or science course
  • Establishes the “Last Mile Scholarship Program” to help students who are financially struggling to finish their degree