Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Enacts 5 New Laws: Here’s What They Mean

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed five bills into law on Thursday, all aimed at enhancing education in the state.

The legislation encompasses various aspects of education reform, including the expansion of scholarship opportunities, increased autonomy for local school districts, and adjustments to assessment standards.

Here’s a breakdown of the key changes brought about by each bill:

HB 1361 — New Worlds Education Programs

Expands eligibility for the New Worlds Scholarship to include students enrolled in Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) programs, particularly those with learning deficiencies.

Establishes the New World Tutoring Program to enhance K-5 classroom performance, offering grants for in-person tutoring in reading and mathematics.

Provides additional grant opportunities for eligible school districts to improve education for students in grades 6-12.

HB 1403 — School Choice Expansion

Extends eligibility for the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) and the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) programs to dependent children of U.S. Armed Forces members stationed in Florida or with a home of record in Florida.

Implements deadlines for Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFO) and parents applying for or renewing scholarships, prioritizing renewal students.

Updates requirements for SFOs, including reporting standards and feedback collection processes.

SB 7002 — Deregulation of Public Schools

Streamlines regulations on school districts to enhance efficiency, allowing for alternate notification systems, removing economic security report requirements, and providing more flexibility in fund allocation.

Grants autonomy to school boards for facility planning and emergency makeup days, simplifies rulemaking procedures, and offers flexibility in spending federal funds.

SB 7004 — Educational Changes

Grants school districts more authority over VPK programs, testing, and instructional materials.

Removes certain requirements for the summer VPK program, reduces assessment frequency, and adjusts diploma requirements.

Provides more control over instructional materials, assessment administration, and virtual instruction offerings.

SB 7032 — GATE Program

Establishes the Graduation Alternative to Traditional Education (GATE) program and three other GATE programs to provide career education opportunities for students who have withdrawn from high school.

Waives tuition, fees, and instructional material costs for eligible students enrolled in the GATE program at specified career centers.

These laws will take effect on July 1, aiming to drive positive changes and improvements in Florida’s education system.

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