Hanna: Florida public school system under attack

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By: Lanetra Bennett
June 1, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Leon County's superintendent of schools, Rocky Hanna, is pleading for the governor's help.

He said, "Make no bones about it, our public school system is under attack. The legislature is showing a total lack of respect for public schools."

Hanna wants Governor Rick Scott to veto House Bill 7069 and the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP). FEFP is local discretionary money.

Hanna says Leon County's FEFP funding will drop to $241 million. The superintendent says that's a $40,000 decrease.

He says local districts should have the discretion to use their funding as needed.

"We have to do better for our public schools. We're sending proposed $200 million to charter schools. We have $200 million set aside for teacher Best and Brightest bonuses that has no criteria whatsoever except for college entrance scores. So, now we're forced to beg the governor for his help." Hanna said.

Referring to the Best and Brightest bonuses, Hanna added, "It makes absolutely no sense. It's a slap in the face and an insult to veteran teachers who are amazing in the classroom. They may not have had an A.C.T. score, an S.A.T. score that would qualify them from 20 or 30 years ago. It is -- I don't even have the words to express how upset I am about it."

Superintendent Hanna says the funding cuts could have a severe impact on providing programs such as art, music, and P.E.

"Enough's enough." He said.

Hanna says potentially, employees would not get a pay raise. "We have 4,500 employees and we owe them better."

Keeping and attracting good teachers would be difficult, the superintendent says.

Leon County resident Mary Thomas said, "Having good teachers is very important because without the teachers, the children can't really learn what they need to learn without that. So, it's going to take funding the teachers."

Hanna says the district stands to lose more than $750,000 in money that's supposed to go to remodeling and renovations.

He says the governor can stop the cuts from happening. "He's our last hope." Hanna said.

Superintendent Hanna sent Governor Rick Scott a letter Wednesday expressing all of his concerns about the bill and potential funding cuts. He says he stands in solidarity with all other 66 school superintendents in Florida.

The governor's office released this statement: "Governor Scott is reviewing the bill and will make the best decision for Florida families."

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
May 31, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna sent a letter Wednesday to Governor Rick Scott, requesting he veto HB 7069.

Superintendent Hanna said in an email addressed to Gov. Scott, "I am joining with other superintendents from across the State of Florida and asking you to please veto HB 7069. Attached for your review is a letter highlighting the negative impact this legislation would have on our school district."

If approved by the Governor, the provisions would take effect July 1.

Attached is a PDF file containing the letter Superintendent Hanna sent to Gov. Scott,

The PDF can be found on this page as "Letter to Governor Scott (HB 7069)."

Below is a detailed summary of HB 7069:

Charter Schools:

Modifies the following charter school provisions: open enrollment procedures, standard application and charter contract, administrative fees, reporting requirements and the calculation and authorized uses of charter school capital outlay, and requires school districts to share local millage revenue with charter schools.

High-Performing Charter Schools:

Authorizes a high-performing charter school to establish more than one charter school in any year if it operates in the area of a persistently low-performing school and serves students from that school and allows a high-performing charter school system to replicate its schools in any school district in the state and specifies application requirements.

School Improvement:

Modifies early warning system

Provides that educational emergency exists when a school district has one or more schools with grade of “D” or “F” and requires a school district to enter a memorandum of understanding addressing instructional personnel and principal autonomy in an educational emergency

Prohibits a district school board from awarding an annual employment contract under specified circumstances.

Requires that, unless the SBE grants the school district an additional year of implementation because it determines the school is likely to improve to a “C” or higher, a school that does not earn a “C” or higher after implementation, must select a turnaround option

Limits the turnaround options for “D” and “F” schools

Title I Funding Distribution:

Specifies that after providing Title I funds to schools above the 75% poverty threshold, a school district must distribute remaining Title I funds directly to all eligible schools.

Schools of Hope:

Authorizes the establishment of “schools of hope” and designation of “hope operators” to provide students in areas of persistently-low performing schools with a high-quality education option.

Schools of Excellence Program:

Creates the Schools of Excellence Program to provide administrative flexibility to the state’s highest performing schools.

K-12 Student Assessments:

Eliminates the Algebra II EOC assessment requirement.

Allows completion of a blended learning course to satisfy online course requirements.

Exempts certain students from a personal fitness competency exam.

Requires paper-pencil ELA and math assessments for grades 3-6, no later than 2018-2019 school year.

Specifies reporting of assessment results to students, parents, and teachers.

Requires DOE to publish statewide assessments.

Independent Study:

Requires the Commissioner of Education to contract for an independent study of ACT/SAT as an alternative for a grade 10 ELA assessment and an Algebra I EOC assessment.

Virtual Instruction:

Eliminates student eligibility requirements, including the prior public year requirement, and clarifies that all students, including home education and private school students, are eligible to participate in virtual options throughout the state.

Personnel Evaluation:

Provides that use of the Value Added Model for personnel evaluation is optional.

Best and Brightest Teacher and Principal Scholarship Programs:

Revises eligibility for the Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program and creates the Florida Best and Brightest Principal Scholarship Program.

Teacher Certification:

Streamlines the temporary certificate application process; establishes a mentorship certification pathway; requires teacher preparation curriculum to include training in evidence-based, phonics-driven reading strategies; allows mentorship activities to count toward certification renewal and requires training in evidence-based reading strategies for renewal of certain certificates.

Minority Teacher Scholarship Program:

Revises eligibility criteria for participation in the program (based on credit hours rather than Junior year or later).

School Absence:

Authorizes school absence related to the treatment of autism spectrum disorder.

School Visitation:

Clarifies that an individual school board member may visit district-operated schools and an individual charter school governing board member may visit any charter school governed by the charter school’s governing board, at his or her pleasure.

Shared Use Facilities:

Establishes provisions related to promoting shared use agreements for public school playground facilities and creates a task force to make recommendations.

Early Learning:

Defines “public school prekindergarten provider” to include a traditional public school and a charter school. Establishes the Committee on Early Grade Success to develop a proposal for establishing and implementing a coordinate child assessment system for the School Readiness Program, Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, and the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and specifies proposal requirements.

Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program:

Creates the Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program within DOE for 3 years; establishes eligibility criteria; requires a preeminent university to evaluate the effectiveness of the program; expires on June 30, 2020.

Reading Intervention:

Requires superintendents to certify that K-5 reading instruction and intervention materials comply with criteria identified by Just Read, Florida! beginning July 1, 2021.

Gardiner Scholarship:

Modifies the Gardiner Scholarship program to expand eligibility and the authorized use of funds, and define account inactivity.

Career and Education Planning Course:

Eliminates the required middle grades career and education planning course.

Instructional Materials:

Deletes a requirement that 50 percent of instructional materials allocation be used to purchase digital or electronic instructional materials.

College-preparatory Boarding Academy Pilot Program:

Expands the definition of eligible student for purposes of the College-Preparatory Boarding Academy Pilot Program to include a student currently enrolled in grades 5-12, if it is determined by the operator that a seat is available.


Requires 20 minutes of consecutive free-play recess per day for kindergarten through grade 5 students in traditional public schools, and exempts charter schools from the specified requirements.

Sunscreen Use:

Allows students to possess and use sunscreen on school property without a prescription.

ACT Aspire test name:

Renames the ACT Aspire test to the preliminary ACT.

Effective Date:

Provides an effective date of July 1, 2017, except as otherwise provided (schools of hope, certain school improvement provisions, and certain capital outlay funding requirements are effective upon becoming law).


Appropriates $413,950,000 in recurring General Revenue Funds and $5 million in non-recurring General Revenue Funds to implement the provisions of the bill.

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