Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law five bills related to education this week.
One item contained in the 160 pages of HB 7029 that is getting a lot of buzz is intended to open parent choices by allowing students to cross district boundaries “to any public school, including charter schools, that has not reached capacity in the district” .
To manage the process, each district must adopt what’s called “a controlled open enrollment plan”.
Of course, the law is a lot more detailed than those key phrases, and folks in the Department of Education in Tallahassee are now busy putting together guidelines as to what exactly that means and how districts can comply.
What is capacity? What about schools, that are filled by lottery, including Palm Beach County’s very popular Suncoast High or Dreyfoos School of the Arts?
“No one should rush to judgment until the state releases the technical information,” said Pete Licata, head of the district’s choice department.
That technical information is expected to be out in a month or so.
Some things we do know:
The law doesn’t kick in until the 2017-18 school year.
The Palm Beach County School District counted 34 schools filled to capacity or beyond on the 11th day of the school year. (see chart)
Nine more schools in the county are at 95 percent capacity or more. (see below)
A handful of students already cross into the district from beyond its boundaries – most are the children of school district employees, some have been placed in county schools under special circumstances, such as for their safety.
Here’s a list of schools that were at or beyond capacity on the 11th day of this school year as reported by the district:
Nine other schools count 95 to 98 percent of their capacity filled, in order from least to most full: Watson B. Duncan Middle, Morikami Park Elem., North Grade Elem., Pine Jog Elem., Bak Middle SOA, Cholee Lake Elem., Everglades Elem., Park Vista High, Liberty Park Elem.
AP reports the law also adds to state law performance-funding formulas for colleges and universities; allows private schools to join the Florida High School Athletic Association or other organizations on a sport-by-sport basis; and gives charter schools that serve lower-income students or those with disabilities a bigger slice of construction funding doled out by the state.