Monday, October 23, 2017

Collier Schools wants less testing; more time to implement policies

collier school building


The Collier County School District wants more time to implement state programs when they get passed by legislators, along with reduced testing and funding for any new major programs as they come in.

The district released approved their legislative priorities, their wish list to go before the Florida Legislature before next year’s session, and one of the big ones includes having more time to put any new plans in motion.

“Regardless of how you feel about the legislation, it’s important it not be dropped where you have a matter of weeks sometimes for preparing,” said Vern Pickup-Crawford, the district’s lobbyist.

Pickup-Crawford used the recently signed HB 7069 as an example, which includes a host of new provisions and regulations for school districts. Many of the new changes, Pickup-Crawford said, won’t likely be rolled out by the state’s Department of Education until well into the school year begins.

Collier wants the state to give school districts a year’s lead time before changes go into effect.

They also want any major changes to come with funding attached to them.

Any legislative changes or mandates should be having funding coming with them. We’re not talking about minor procedures, but major changes that the legislature would require us to do,” Pickup-Crawford said. “The last couple of years they’ve been better about that, I’ll openly say.”

But board vice chair Erika Donalds worries that such a provision could backfire on the district, and is worried that instead of getting new funding for new programs and changes, it will instead be earmarked funds from elsewhere.

“They’re going to say they fund all the programs through the base student allocation,” Donalds said. “I think that’s going to result in new categorical funding not increased funding.”

Standardized testing, always a hot topic in education, is another key priority for the district. Collier is pushing to find ways to reduce the required testing burden on students.

One proposal is to replace the 9th grade English/Language Arts Florida State Assessment with a 10th grade test as a graduation requirement. But it would allow 9th graders who believe they are ready to take the test a year early.

“At this point you probably call it something else, high school ELA FSA or whatever it is,” Donalds said. “Like Algebra it would be based on your mastery and when you master it and not what grade you’re in.”

Board member Stephanie Lucarelli said that testing is something the district should continue to watch carefully.

“I think that’s something we should continue to monitor as we get into the legislative session,” Lucarelli said.

Because it’s an election year, the 2018 Legislative Session begins in January.

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