| Voucher Expansion/Consolidation The Gardiner and McKay scholarship programs, which serve students with special needs, were merged with the Family Empowerment Scholarship program, which serves low- to middle-income families. It increases the maximum income eligibility to receive vouchers to 375 percent of the federal poverty level, meaning a family of four making nearly $100,000 a year would qualify. The change could cost state taxpayers up to $200 million as it may add 60,000 more students. More than 160,000 students now use state scholarships at a cost of about $1 billion. |
School Safety Passing both chambers unanimously, this school safety package would significantly change how local schools handle involuntary student mental health examinations under the state’s Baker Act and includes new guidelines and rules for applying the Baker Act on public school campuses.
Moment of Silence Public school students will start the day with a one-to-two-minute moment of silence.
Civic Education Two bills will revise the social studies high school graduation requirements regarding civic education. The Florida Department of Education will curate oral history resources as part of the Portraits in Patriotism Act and develop criteria for a civic literacy practicum.
First Aid and CPR School districts are encouraged to provide basic first aid and CPR training in grades six to eight and will be required to provide such training for all students in high school.
Health Education A comprehensive health education curriculum for K-12 public schools will include instruction on the prevention of child sexual abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking in an age-appropriate manner.
Students with Disabilities The use of seclusion and restraint on students with disabilities in public schools is now prohibited. School districts will get training on how to adopt positive behavior interventions.
Transgender Sports Passed as an amendment on an unrelated charter school bill, transgender girls and women would be banned from playing on secondary and college female sports teams if the governor signs this bill. The gender of a student will be based on the original birth certificate. In early April, the NCAA issued a statement saying it would only hold championships in states that “can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.”
State University Free Seat Program State universities will waive the tuition and fees for one online course for a Florida resident who is either a veteran, an active-duty member of the United States Armed Forces or active member of the Florida National Guard. In the last hours of the session, an amendment was attached to the bill which would disallow state funds to be used to join associations who boycott Florida (as a result of legislation that is proposed or passed in the state).
Higher Education This bill: shields colleges and universities from lawsuits filed due to campuses closing and moving to online classes due to COVID-19; provides a ‘buy one, get one free’ tuition and fee waiver on upper-level courses in a program of strategic emphasis as identified by the Board of Governors; waives out-of-state fees for top performing non-resident students who have a grandparent living in Florida; and makes changes to the EASE (Effective Access to Student Education) grant program.
Intellectual Freedom The State Board of Education and the Board of Governors will annually survey students on “intellectual freedom”.
Academic Dashboard The Board of Governors will post an online dashboard showing data, by academic discipline, of post-graduation salaries, student debt and other data. This bill originally tied a student’s choice of academic program to their Bright Futures scholarship awards.
Bright Futures During the budget process, the Legislature eliminated the $600 annual textbook stipend for Academic Scholars award winners.