SB 1076: Education bill signed, teacher pay reviewed

As the school bell rings in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, lawmakers are at a crucial point in discussion of education issues.

Monday Morning, Governor Rick Scott signed an education bill, Senate Bill 1076.

The bill expands Career and Professional Education, or CAPE, academies to prepare students for future careers.  It is sponsored by Senator John Legg, R-Port Richey.  It will allow students to earn a high school diploma while earning college credits and industry certifications.

SB 1076 will create more comprehensive K-20 career and education planning and rework student assessment plans.

It will undo newer, tougher graduation requirements that were passed in 2010. Students would instead opt in for tougher courses that are more career-specific.

Read the bill here: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2013/1076

A summary for the bill suggests the new bill could improve the talent supply and number of skilled graduates who can fill necessary jobs.

There would also be bonus funding for schools where students earn special technology and digital certifications.

The bill would also increase options for students who want to take courses online while earning a bachelor's degree at the University of Florida.

The bill has been backed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

In a press release Monday, Mark Wilson, the President and CEO of the Florida Chamber, said, "CAPE academies will equip students with the skills needed for tomorrow's jobs and this type of education innovation will encourage businesses to invest in Florida. Expanding CAPE academies will make Florida more competitive and help ensure our students are ready for a changing economy."

Governor Rick Scott has pushed for $2,500 pay raises for teachers since January.

In a press release, Scott said, "Investing in Florida's teachers is important to our children's future and I ask the Florida Legislature to join me in supporting my proposed budget, which will include $480 million in funding to support these raises."

Over the weekend, lawmakers met and agreed to set aside nearly $500 million to boost teacher pay.

Yet House and Senate members do not plan to hand out raises as Scott requested.

Instead, lawmakers plan to go forward with a proposal to base teacher pay on performance.

They want to offer raises to other employees who work beyond the classroom, which could lower the amount offered to each employee.

The regular session ends May 3.

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