Saturday, February 12, 2011

SB736: Fiscal Impact Indeterminate

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Sandra in Brevard

The Florida Senate Bill Analysis and Fiscal Impact Statement for SB736, filed by State Senator Stephen Wise, appeared on the PreK-12 Education Committee website. On page 11, Section V: Fiscal Impact Statement reads as follows:

A. Tax/Fees Issue: None

B. Private Sector Impact: None

C. Government Sector Impact:

"The fiscal impact of this bill is indeterminate.

According to the DOE, there will be additional costs to the districts for monitoring the use of evaluation criteria by supervisors and administrators.

As part of Florida's funding in Race to the Top, the DOE will assist school districts in their development of assessment items that may be used for locally developed assessments. Specifically, the DOE will provide the following:

Resources for districts to develop assessment items for "hard to measure" content areas, including Physical and Health Education, Fine Arts, and World Languages; Assessment items for core academic areas (Math, Social Studies,

Science, Language Arts, and Spanish) for grade levels and content areas that are not already tested by FCAT or state end-of-course assessments; and Development of a technology platform that will provide districts secure access to high-quality assessment items and tools for the creation and administration of student assessments.

The DOE notes that over the next three years the grant will provide funding for the development of end-of-course exams in most subject areas. The DOE also noted that additional resources or user charges will be necessary to maintain an assessment item bank or platform at the conclusion of the grant period.

According to the DOE, there are over 400 charter schools in Florida. The DOE reports that there will be a significant impact on its staff to review the evaluation systems for these schools.

It is not anticipated that the bill revises the total funds for instructional personnel and school administrator compensation."

Senator Wise seemed to indicate that he would focus on getting legislation written, but let the Senate Education Appropriations Committee figure out how to fund it. No cost analysis ever emerged for last year's effort (SB6).

Given the current state of the economy and Governor Scott's newly released budgetary measures, it is impossible to guess if SB736 is fundable even if a cost analysis emerges. With the proposed additional slashes to education funding, it would be unreasonable to divert a single remaining local dollar and/or resource to new tests and database development. Race to the Top funds extends to those school districts who signed on. The analysis does not address funding for districts that are not getting Race to the Top support.

Reports suggest that the Governor's proposal was not received with smiles and cheers in Tallahassee. While Scott proposes lowering the forced property tax, he cannot control local (county) education property taxes. If SB736 turns out to be an unfunded mandate, will local governments have to look at local increases they control?

The devil is in the details and we just don't have enough of that. Scott's proposal has to be voted on by the legislature and it looks like Scott needs to convince them. Simply stated, there must be no unfunded mandates and no encroachment on local control.

Read the full bill analysis here:

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