Florida Senate - 2016                                     SB 978
       By Senator Legg
       17-00992A-16                                           2016978__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to public school teachers; creating s.
    3         1012.731, F.S.; providing legislative intent; defining
    4         the term “school district”; establishing the Florida
    5         Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program;
    6         providing eligibility criteria; requiring a school
    7         district to annually submit the number of eligible
    8         teachers to the Department of Education; providing for
    9         funding and disbursement of funds; providing an
   10         effective date.
   12  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   14         Section 1. Section 1012.731, Florida Statutes, is created
   15  to read:
   16         1012.731 The Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship
   17  Program.—
   18         (1) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—The Legislature recognizes that
   19  teachers play a critical role in preparing students to achieve a
   20  high level of academic performance. The Legislature further
   21  recognizes that research has linked student performance to a
   22  teacher’s own academic achievements. Therefore, it is the intent
   23  of the Legislature to designate teachers who have achieved high
   24  academic standards during their own education as Florida’s Best
   25  and Brightest Teacher scholars.
   26         (2) DEFINITION.—For purposes of this section, the term
   27  “school district” includes the Florida School for the Deaf and
   28  the Blind and a charter school governing board.
   29         (3) PROGRAM.—There is created the Florida Best and
   30  Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program to be administered by the
   31  Department of Education. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year,
   32  the scholarship program shall provide categorical funding for
   33  scholarships to be awarded to teachers who have demonstrated a
   34  high level of academic achievement.
   36         (a) To be eligible for a Florida Best and Brightest Teacher
   37  scholarship:
   38         1. A teacher must have scored at or above the 60th
   39  percentile on either the SAT or the ACT, based upon the
   40  percentile ranks in effect when the teacher took the assessment,
   41  and must have been evaluated as highly effective pursuant to s.
   42  1012.34; or
   43         2. A teacher who is in his or her first year and who has
   44  not been evaluated pursuant to s. 1012.34 must have scored at or
   45  above the 80th percentile on either the SAT or the ACT, based
   46  upon the percentile ranks in effect when the teacher took the
   47  assessment.
   48         (b) In order to demonstrate eligibility for an award, a
   49  teacher must submit to the school district no later than October
   50  1 an official record of his or her SAT or ACT score
   51  demonstrating that he or she scored at or above the 60th
   52  percentile, based upon the percentile ranks in effect when he or
   53  she took the assessment. If a teacher is deemed eligible by the
   54  school district, the teacher will remain eligible as long as he
   55  or she is employed by the school district and maintains or, if
   56  the teacher is a first-year teacher, is evaluated at the highly
   57  effective level pursuant to s. 1012.34.
   59  FUNDS.—
   60         (a) By December 1 of each year, each school district shall
   61  submit to the department the number of eligible teachers who
   62  qualify for the scholarship.
   63         (b) By February 1 of each year, the department shall
   64  disburse scholarship funds, in an amount prescribed by the
   65  Legislature in the General Appropriations Act, to each school
   66  district for eligible teachers to receive a scholarship. If the
   67  number of eligible teachers exceeds the total appropriation
   68  authorized in the General Appropriation Act, the department
   69  shall prorate the per-teacher scholarship amount.
   70         (c) By April 1 of each year, each school district shall
   71  provide payment of the scholarship to each eligible teacher.
   72         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2016.