(1) The Legislature recognizes that the most effective school principals establish a safe and supportive school environment for students and faculty. Research shows that these principals increase student learning by providing opportunities for the professional growth, collaboration, and autonomy that classroom teachers need to become and remain highly effective educational professionals. As a result, these principals are able to recruit and retain more of the best classroom teachers and improve student outcomes at their schools, including schools serving low-income and high-need student populations. Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to designate school principals whose school faculty has a high percentage of classroom teachers who are designated as Florida’s best and brightest teacher scholars pursuant to s. 1012.731 as Florida’s best and brightest principals. (2) There is created the Florida Best and Brightest Principal Scholarship Program to be administered by the Department of Education. The program shall provide categorical funding for scholarships to be awarded to school principals, as defined in s. 1012.01(3)(c)1., who have recruited and retained a high percentage of best and brightest teachers. (3) A school principal identified pursuant to s. 1012.731(4)(c) is eligible to receive a scholarship under this section if he or she has served as school principal at his or her school for at least 2 consecutive school years including the current school year and his or her school has a ratio of best and brightest teachers to other classroom teachers that is at the 80th percentile or higher for schools within the same grade group, statewide, including elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and schools with a combination of grade levels.
(4) Annually, by February 1, the department shall identify eligible school principals and disburse funds to each school district for each eligible school principal to receive a scholarship. A scholarship of $5,000 must be awarded to every eligible school principal assigned to a Title I school and a scholarship of $4,000 to every eligible school principal who is not assigned to a Title I school.
(5) Annually, by April 1, each school district must award a scholarship to each eligible school principal.
(6) A school district must provide a best and brightest principal with the additional authority and responsibilities provided in s. 1012.28(8) for a minimum of 2 years.
(7) For purposes of this section, the term “school district” includes the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind and charter school governing boards.