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December 17, 2001

CONTACT: Elizabeth Hirst
Florida Governors Office

Governor Bush Signs School District Flexibility Act
Legislation removes mandates on local districts while maintaining accountability

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush, joined by Lt. Governor Frank Brogan, today signed House Bill 13-C, the School District Flexibility Act that frees school districts to protect direct classroom instruction and their local priorities, while still maintaining the accountability that Floridians deserve.

"Florida is a state rich in diversity that is reflected in our students and our schools. With diversity come interesting challenges-what works in Miami-Dade and other urban districts will not necessarily work in Lafayette," said Governor Bush. "Giving districts the flexibility to address their individual classroom needs and local priorities is what this legislation does. No longer will Tallahassee dictate a one-size-fits-all solution to our schools."

"This is the next step. With accountability, flexibility should come," said Education Commissioner Charlie Crist. "We have been working toward providing more local control and I applaud the Governor and the Legislature for giving school districts this freedom."

"This effort reflects our commitment to move decision making closer to the student, to direct finite resources to enhance student learning," said Secretary of Education Jim Horne.

House Bill 13-C, sponsored by Senator Don Sullivan (St. Petersburg) and Representative Evelyn Lynn (Ormond Beach), will do the following:

  • Grants flexibility to county school districts for the 2001-2002 fiscal year to amend their operating budget with a vote of the district school board to maintain academic classroom instruction for the current year only;
  • Grants the Community College and University Boards of Trustees flexibility in amending their operating budgets;
  • Allows a school board to loan school construction funds to another school board; funds would be repaid to the loaning district over an agreed upon period of time;
  • Provides during the 2001-2002 school year, that school boards may use funds reserved for performance-based salary bonuses; however, each district's 2002-2003 adopted school board budget must include a reserve to fully fund an additional five percent supplement for school administrators and instructional personnel who demonstrate outstanding performance; and
  • Allows the Commissioner of Education and the Secretary of Education to transfer funds within programs, and requires transfers to be reported to the Florida Board of Education.

"House Bill 13C is only the first of many legislative actions planned to promote excellence in Florida's K-20 educational system," said Representative Evelyn Lynn.

Joining the Governor and Lt. Governor at today's bill signing were the bill's co-sponsors, Education Commissioner Charlie Crist, Secretary of Education Jim Horne, Chairman of the Florida Board of Education Phil Handy and representatives from various universities, community colleges and school districts.