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Duval, St. Johns school districts react to signing of controversial education bill
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Duval, St. Johns school districts react to signing of controversial education bill

Duval, St. Johns school districts react to signing of controversial education bill
Photo Credit: Governor Rick Scott's Press Office

Duval, St. Johns school districts react to signing of controversial education bill

Going against the wishes of many school boards and superintendents, Florida Governor Rick Scott has officially signed a sweeping education bill, known as HB7069, that in part, steers state money toward privately-funded charter schools.  

St. Johns County Superintendent Tim Forson tells WOKV, he has many concerns with the law, with increased recess time for elementary school students being just one item on the list.  

"There is that requirement, but there's no really standard for increasing the day and, so, you're going to replace 20 minutes of instructional time somewhere," explains Forson.  

When it comes to the charter school part of the law, Forson says there's a couple of elements to that issue.  

"You have the 'Schools of Hope' is what it is called under that bill, that allows charter schools to come to where a school has been performing poorly and they get additional dollars in order to open up and run that school, dollars that weren't necessarily available to the school district in order to provide services," Forson says.  

Forson says that creates a new problem as they don't have to serve all the students that were being served by the school that was struggling.  

Forson also points out that under this new law, charter schools don't have all the same requirements as traditional public schools.  

At this time, it's not believed any schools in St. Johns County will be affected by the charter school part of the law, at least not based on the most recent test scores, as the law only applies to public schools that have earned either a D or an F for three straight years.  

Forson says another major problem with the law is the ability for school districts to meet the demands, as some of it takes effect July 1st, giving them only two weeks to prepare.  

The interim Duval County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Pat Willis, has also released the following statement about the signing:  

“I was hopeful our governor would veto HB7069 due to the devastating effects anticipated for all students in Florida. I am disappointed this has now been signed into law. This signature is truly a signal to families that inequities between traditional public schools and charter schools are acceptable, and restricting local control has outweighed the educational needs of our community. To remain proactive, my leadership team has been looking at possible scenarios and strategies due to expected shifts in funding, enrollment projections, operations, and transportation. There are far too many questions right now, but we will remain steadfast in our planning for the upcoming school year.”


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