MIAMI — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 1, which expands available school choice options for all students in Florida by eliminating financial eligibility restrictions and the current enrollment cap. Florida already has 1.3 million students who learn full time in a school of their family’s choosing – larger than the entire K-12 student enrollments of 35 other states. Now law, HB 1 will further cement Florida’s position as the nation’s leader in school choice. For more information about HB 1, click here.
HB 1 eliminates the current financial eligibility restrictions and allows any student who is eligible to enroll in K-12 to participate in available school choice options. The bill also continues to prioritize awards to students with household incomes that do not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty level while incorporating a second priority to award scholarships to students who live in households with incomes between 185 percent of the federal poverty level and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. HB 1 also increases the annual scholarship adjustment for the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities from one percent to three percent to address high demand and wait lists.
The bill also eliminates the current enrollment cap and the exemptions to the maximum number of students who can participate in FES-EO. For students who are not full-time enrolled in public or private school or who are not Home Education Program students, there will be a cap of 20,000 new scholarships for the 2023-2024 school year and a cap of 40,000 new scholarships for every year after that.
Additionally, this legislation requires the Office of K-12 School Choice to develop an online portal that enables parents to choose the best educational options for their student. The bill also eliminates the restrictive requirement that students must complete at least one credit through a virtual course to graduate.
Finally, to make the teaching profession more accessible, the bill removes red tape and bureaucracy from the profession by allowing the general education requirement to be waived for teachers who have had three years in the classroom if they have been rated ‘effective’ or ‘highly effective’ for three consecutive years. The bill also expands the length of a temporary teaching certificate from three years to five years.
To further reduce bureaucracy in the profession, the bill requires the State Board of Education to recommend additional repeals and revisions to the education code.