The Principal Autonomy Program Initiative is created within the Department of Education. The purpose of the program is to provide a highly effective principal of a participating school with increased autonomy and authority to operate his or her school, as well as other schools, in a way that produces significant improvements in student achievement and school management while complying with constitutional requirements. The State Board of Education may, upon approval of a principal autonomy proposal, enter into a performance contract with the district school board for participation in the program.
(1) PARTICIPATING SCHOOL DISTRICTS.—Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, contingent upon available funds, and on a first-come, first-served basis, a district school board may submit, no later than December 1, to the state board for approval a principal autonomy proposal that exchanges statutory and rule exemptions for an agreement to meet performance goals established in the proposal. If approved by the state board, the school district is eligible to participate in the program for 3 years.
(2) PRINCIPAL AUTONOMY PROPOSAL.— (a) To participate in the program, a school district must: 1. Identify three schools that received at least two school grades of “D” or “F” pursuant to s. 1008.34 during the previous 3 school years. 2. Identify three principals who have earned a highly effective rating on the prior year’s performance evaluation pursuant to s. 1012.34, one of whom shall be assigned to each of the participating schools. 3. Describe the current financial and administrative management of each participating school; identify the areas in which each school principal will have increased fiscal and administrative autonomy, including the authority and responsibilities provided in s. 1012.28(8); and identify the areas in which each participating school will continue to follow district school board fiscal and administrative policies.
4. Explain the methods used to identify the educational strengths and needs of the participating school’s students and identify how student achievement can be improved.
5. Establish performance goals for student achievement, as defined in s. 1008.34(1), and explain how the increased autonomy of principals will help participating schools improve student achievement and school management.
6. Provide each participating school’s mission and a description of its student population.
(b) The state board shall establish criteria, which must include the criteria listed in paragraph (a), for the approval of a principal autonomy proposal.
(c) A district school board must submit its principal autonomy proposal to the state board for approval by December 1 in order to begin participation in the subsequent school year. By February 28 of the school year in which the proposal is submitted, the state board shall notify the district school board in writing whether the proposal is approved.
(3) EXEMPTION FROM LAWS.—
(a) With the exception of those laws listed in paragraph (b), a participating school or a school operated by a principal pursuant to subsection (5) is exempt from the provisions of chapters 1000-1013 and rules of the state board that implement those exempt provisions.
(b) A participating school or a school operated by a principal pursuant to subsection (5) shall comply with the provisions of chapters 1000-1013, and rules of the state board that implement those provisions, pertaining to the following:
1. Those laws relating to the election and compensation of district school board members, the election or appointment and compensation of district school superintendents, public meetings and public records requirements, financial disclosure, and conflicts of interest.
2. Those laws relating to the student assessment program and school grading system, including chapter 1008.
3. Those laws relating to the provision of services to students with disabilities.
4. Those laws relating to civil rights, including s. 1000.05, relating to discrimination.
5. Those laws relating to student health, safety, and welfare.
6. Section 1001.42(4)(f), relating to the uniform opening date for public schools. 7. Section 1003.03, governing maximum class size, except that the calculation for compliance pursuant to s. 1003.03 is the average at the school level for a participating school. 8. Sections 1012.22(1)(c) and 1012.27(2), relating to compensation and salary schedules. 9. Section 1012.33(5), relating to workforce reductions for annual contracts for instructional personnel. This subparagraph does not apply to at-will employees. 10. Section 1012.335, relating to annual contracts for instructional personnel hired on or after July 1, 2011. This subparagraph does not apply to at-will employees. 11. Section 1012.34, relating to personnel evaluation procedures and criteria. 12. Those laws pertaining to educational facilities, including chapter 1013, except that s. 1013.20, relating to covered walkways for relocatables, and s. 1013.21, relating to the use of relocatable facilities exceeding 20 years of age, are eligible for exemption. 13. Those laws pertaining to participating school districts, including this section and ss. 1011.69(2) and 1012.28(8).
(c) A school shall remain exempt, as provided in this subsection, beyond the term of the program so long as the school receives no grade lower than a “B.”
(4) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.—Each participating school district shall require that the principal of each participating school and a designated leadership team selected by the principal of the participating school complete a nationally recognized school turnaround program which focuses on improving leadership, instructional infrastructure, talent management, and differentiated support and accountability. The required personnel must enroll in the nationally recognized school turnaround program upon acceptance into the program.
(5) DISTRICT INNOVATION ACADEMIES AND ZONES.—To encourage further innovation and expand the reach of highly effective principals trained pursuant to subsection (4), district school boards may authorize these principals to manage multiple schools within a zone. A zone may include the school at which the principal is assigned, persistently low-performing schools, feeder pattern schools, or a group of schools identified by the school district. The principal may allocate resources and personnel between the schools under his or her administration.
(6) TERM OF PARTICIPATION.—The state board shall authorize a school district to participate in the program for a period of 3 years commencing with approval of the principal autonomy proposal. The state board may revoke authorization to participate in the program if the school district fails to meet the requirements of this section during the 3-year period.
(7) FUNDING.—Subject to an annual appropriation, the department shall fund the costs of the program to include the administrative and enrollment costs for the nationally recognized school turnaround program required in subsection (4) and an amount not to exceed $10,000 for each participating principal in each participating district as an annual salary supplement for 3 years. To be eligible for a salary supplement under this subsection, a participating principal must: (a) Be rated “highly effective” as determined by the principal’s performance evaluation under s. 1012.34; (b) Be transferred to a school that earned a grade of “F” or two consecutive grades of “D” pursuant to s. 1008.34, or manage, pursuant to subsection (5), a persistently low-performing school and provided additional authority and responsibilities pursuant to s. 1012.28(8); and (c) Have implemented a turnaround option under s. 1008.33 at a school as the school’s principal. The turnaround option must have resulted in the school improving by at least one letter grade while he or she was serving as the school’s principal.
(8) RULEMAKING.—The State Board of Education shall adopt rules to administer this section.
1Note.—Section 49, ch. 2018-6, provides that:
“(1) The Department of Revenue is authorized, and all conditions are deemed to be met, to adopt emergency rules pursuant to s. 120.54(4), Florida Statutes, for the purpose of administering the provisions of this act.
“(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, emergency rules adopted pursuant to subsection (1) are effective for 6 months after adoption and may be renewed during the pendency of procedures to adopt permanent rules addressing the subject of the emergency rules.
“(3) This section shall take effect upon this act becoming a law and shall expire January 1, 2022.”