Florida Senate - 2017                                    SB 1314
       By Senator Grimsley
       26-00935A-17                                          20171314__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to educational options; amending s.
    3         1002.395, F.S.; specifying the Department of
    4         Education’s duty to approve or deny an application for
    5         the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program within a
    6         specified time; specifying the department’s duties
    7         regarding the carryforward tax credit; requiring an
    8         eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization to
    9         allow certain dependent children to apply for a
   10         scholarship at any time; revising parent and student
   11         responsibilities for program participation; revising
   12         the date upon which certain private schools must
   13         submit a required report; specifying that certain
   14         actions of the private school are a basis for program
   15         ineligibility; authorizing the Learning Systems
   16         Institute to receive compensation for research under
   17         certain circumstances; revising the calculation of a
   18         scholarship award; increasing the limit of a
   19         scholarship award for certain students; revising
   20         payment method options; amending s. 1012.98, F.S.;
   21         authorizing specified eligible nonprofit scholarship
   22         funding organizations to develop a professional
   23         development system; providing an effective date.
   25  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   27         Section 1. Paragraph (b) of subsection (5) of section
   28  1002.395, Florida Statutes, is amended, present paragraph (f) of
   29  that subsection is redesignated as paragraph (g) and a new
   30  paragraph (f) is added to that subsection, and paragraph (h) of
   31  subsection (6), paragraph (f) of subsection (7), subsection (8),
   32  paragraph (j) of subsection (9), and paragraphs (a) and (b) of
   33  subsection (12) of that section are amended, to read:
   34         1002.395 Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.—
   36         (b) A taxpayer may submit an application to the department
   37  for a tax credit or credits under one or more of s. 211.0251, s.
   38  212.1831, s. 220.1875, s. 561.1211, or s. 624.51055.
   39         1. The taxpayer shall specify in the application each tax
   40  for which the taxpayer requests a credit and the applicable
   41  taxable year for a credit under s. 220.1875 or s. 624.51055 or
   42  the applicable state fiscal year for a credit under s. 211.0251,
   43  s. 212.1831, or s. 561.1211. The department shall approve tax
   44  credits on a first-come, first-served basis and must obtain the
   45  division’s approval before approving a tax credit under s.
   46  561.1211.
   47         2. Within 10 days after approving or denying an
   48  application, the department shall provide a copy of its approval
   49  or denial letter to the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding
   50  organization specified by the taxpayer in the application.
   51         (f) Within 10 days after approving or denying an
   52  application for a carryforward tax credit under paragraph (c),
   53  the conveyance, transfer, or assignment of a tax credit under
   54  paragraph (d), or the rescindment of a tax credit under
   55  paragraph (e), the department shall provide a copy of its
   56  approval or denial letter to the eligible nonprofit scholarship
   57  funding organization specified by the taxpayer in the
   58  application. The department shall also include the eligible
   59  nonprofit scholarship-funding organization specified by the
   60  taxpayer in the application on all letters or correspondence of
   61  acknowledgment for tax credits under s. 212.1831.
   63  ORGANIZATIONS.—An eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding
   64  organization:
   65         (h) Must allow a student in foster care, or out-of-home
   66  care, or who is a dependent child of a parent or guardian who is
   67  a member of the United States Armed Forces, to apply for a
   68  scholarship at any time.
   70  Information and documentation provided to the Department of
   71  Education and the Auditor General relating to the identity of a
   72  taxpayer that provides an eligible contribution under this
   73  section shall remain confidential at all times in accordance
   74  with s. 213.053.
   77         (f) Upon receipt of a scholarship warrant from the eligible
   78  nonprofit scholarship-funding organization, the parent to whom
   79  the warrant is made must restrictively endorse the warrant to
   80  the private school for deposit into the account of the private
   81  school. If payments are made by funds transfer, the parent must
   82  approve each payment before the scholarship funds may be
   83  deposited. The parent may not designate any entity or individual
   84  associated with the participating private school as the parent’s
   85  attorney in fact to endorse a scholarship warrant or approve a
   86  funds transfer. A participant who fails to comply with this
   87  paragraph forfeits the scholarship.
   89  private school may be sectarian or nonsectarian and must:
   90         (a) Comply with all requirements for private schools
   91  participating in state school choice scholarship programs
   92  pursuant to s. 1002.421.
   93         (b) Provide to the eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding
   94  organization, upon request, all documentation required for the
   95  student’s participation, including the private school’s and
   96  student’s fee schedules.
   97         (c) Be academically accountable to the parent for meeting
   98  the educational needs of the student by:
   99         1. At a minimum, annually providing to the parent a written
  100  explanation of the student’s progress.
  101         2. Annually administering or making provision for students
  102  participating in the scholarship program in grades 3 through 10
  103  to take one of the nationally norm-referenced tests identified
  104  by the Department of Education or the statewide assessments
  105  pursuant to s. 1008.22. Students with disabilities for whom
  106  standardized testing is not appropriate are exempt from this
  107  requirement. A participating private school must report a
  108  student’s scores to the parent. A participating private school
  109  must annually report by August 15 the scores of all
  110  participating students to the Learning System Institute
  111  described in paragraph (9)(j).
  112         3. Cooperating with the scholarship student whose parent
  113  chooses to have the student participate in the statewide
  114  assessments pursuant to s. 1008.22 or, if a private school
  115  chooses to offer the statewide assessments, administering the
  116  assessments at the school.
  117         a. A participating private school may choose to offer and
  118  administer the statewide assessments to all students who attend
  119  the private school in grades 3 through 10.
  120         b. A participating private school must submit a request in
  121  writing to the Department of Education by March 1 of each year
  122  in order to administer the statewide assessments in the
  123  subsequent school year.
  124         (d) Employ or contract with teachers who have regular and
  125  direct contact with each student receiving a scholarship under
  126  this section at the school’s physical location.
  127         (e) Annually contract with an independent certified public
  128  accountant to perform the agreed-upon procedures developed under
  129  paragraph (6)(o) and produce a report of the results if the
  130  private school receives more than $250,000 in funds from
  131  scholarships awarded under this section in the 2010-2011 state
  132  fiscal year or a state fiscal year thereafter. A private school
  133  subject to this paragraph must submit the report by each August
  134  15 by September 15, 2011, and annually thereafter to the
  135  scholarship-funding organization that awarded the majority of
  136  the school’s scholarship funds. The agreed-upon procedures must
  137  be conducted in accordance with attestation standards
  138  established by the American Institute of Certified Public
  139  Accountants.
  141  The inability of a private school to meet the requirements of
  142  this subsection, or the listing of material exceptions in its
  143  agreed-upon procedures reports, constitutes shall constitute a
  144  basis for the ineligibility of the private school to participate
  145  in the scholarship program as determined by the Department of
  146  Education.
  147         (9) DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OBLIGATIONS.—The Department of
  148  Education shall:
  149         (j) Issue a project grant award to the Learning System
  150  Institute at the Florida State University, to which
  151  participating private schools must report the scores of
  152  participating students on the nationally norm-referenced tests
  153  or the statewide assessments administered by the private school
  154  in grades 3 through 10. The project term is 2 years, and the
  155  amount of the project is up to $500,000 per year. The Learning
  156  Systems Institute may be compensated for additional research as
  157  determined through the project grant award process. The project
  158  grant award must be reissued in 2-year intervals in accordance
  159  with this paragraph.
  160         1. The Learning System Institute must annually report to
  161  the Department of Education on the student performance of
  162  participating students and any additional research included in
  163  the project grant award issued by the Department of Education:
  164         a. On a statewide basis. The report shall also include, to
  165  the extent possible, a comparison of scholarship students’
  166  performance to the statewide student performance of public
  167  school students with socioeconomic backgrounds similar to those
  168  of students participating in the scholarship program. To
  169  minimize costs and reduce time required for the Learning System
  170  Institute’s analysis and evaluation, the Department of Education
  171  shall coordinate with the Learning System Institute to provide
  172  data to the Learning System Institute in order to conduct
  173  analyses of matched students from public school assessment data
  174  and calculate control group student performance using an agreed
  175  upon methodology with the Learning System Institute; and
  176         b. On an individual school basis. The annual report must
  177  include student performance for each participating private
  178  school in which at least 51 percent of the total enrolled
  179  students in the private school participated in the Florida Tax
  180  Credit Scholarship Program in the prior school year. The report
  181  shall be according to each participating private school, and for
  182  participating students, in which there are at least 30
  183  participating students who have scores for tests administered.
  184  If the Learning System Institute determines that the 30
  185  participating-student cell size may be reduced without
  186  disclosing personally identifiable information, as described in
  187  34 C.F.R. s. 99.12, of a participating student, the Learning
  188  System Institute may reduce the participating-student cell size,
  189  but the cell size must not be reduced to less than 10
  190  participating students. The department shall provide each
  191  private school’s prior school year’s student enrollment
  192  information to the Learning System Institute no later than June
  193  15 of each year, or as requested by the Learning System
  194  Institute.
  195         2. The sharing and reporting of student performance data
  196  under this paragraph must be in accordance with requirements of
  197  ss. 1002.22 and 1002.221 and 20 U.S.C. s. 1232g, the Family
  198  Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and the applicable rules and
  199  regulations issued pursuant thereto, and shall be for the sole
  200  purpose of research and creating the annual report required by
  201  subparagraph 1. All parties must preserve the confidentiality of
  202  such information as required by law. The annual report must not
  203  disaggregate data to a level that will identify individual
  204  participating schools, except as required under sub-subparagraph
  205  1.b., or disclose the academic level of individual students.
  206         3. The annual report required by subparagraph 1. shall be
  207  published by the Department of Education on its website.
  209         (a) Except as provided in subparagraph 2., the amount of a
  210  scholarship provided to any student for any single school year
  211  by an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization from
  212  eligible contributions shall be for total costs authorized under
  213  paragraph (6)(d), not to exceed annual limits, which shall be
  214  determined as follows:
  215         1.a. For a scholarship awarded to a student enrolled in an
  216  eligible private school, the limit shall be determined as a
  217  percentage by multiplying the unweighted FTE funding amount in
  218  that state fiscal year by the percentage used to determine the
  219  limit in the prior state fiscal year. However, in each state
  220  fiscal year that the tax credit cap amount increases pursuant to
  221  paragraph (5)(a), the prior year percentage shall be increased
  222  by 4 percentage points and the increased percentage shall be
  223  used to determine the limit for that state fiscal year. If the
  224  percentage so calculated reaches 80 percent in a state fiscal
  225  year, no further increase in the percentage is allowed and the
  226  limit shall be 80 percent of the unweighted FTE funding amount
  227  for that state fiscal year and thereafter. Beginning in the
  228  2016-2017 state fiscal year, the amount of a scholarship awarded
  229  to a student enrolled in an eligible private school shall be
  230  equal to 82 percent of the unweighted FTE funding amount for
  231  that state fiscal year and thereafter as follows:
  232         (I) Eighty-eight percent for a student enrolled in
  233  kindergarten through grade 5.
  234         (II) Ninety-two percent for a student enrolled in grade 6,
  235  grade 7, or grade 8.
  236         (III) Ninety-six percent for a student enrolled in grades 9
  237  through 12.
  238         b. For a scholarship awarded to a student enrolled in a
  239  Florida public school that is located outside the district in
  240  which the student resides or in a lab school as defined in s.
  241  1002.32, the limit shall be $750 $500.
  242         2. The annual limit for a scholarship under sub
  243  subparagraph 1.a. shall be reduced by:
  244         a. Twenty-five percent if the student’s household income
  245  level is equal to or greater than 200 percent, but less than 215
  246  percent, of the federal poverty level.
  247         b. Fifty percent if the student’s household income level is
  248  equal to or greater than 215 percent, but equal to or less than
  249  230 percent, of the federal poverty level.
  250         3. For the 2016-2017 state fiscal year and thereafter, the
  251  annual limit for a scholarship under sub-subparagraph 1.a. shall
  252  be reduced by:
  253         a. Twelve percent if the student’s household income level
  254  is greater than or equal to 200 percent, but less than 215
  255  percent, of the federal poverty level.
  256         b. Twenty-six percent if the student’s household income
  257  level is greater than or equal to 215 percent, but less than 230
  258  percent, of the federal poverty level.
  259         c. Forty percent if the student’s household income level is
  260  greater than or equal to 230 percent, but less than 245 percent,
  261  of the federal poverty level.
  262         d. Fifty percent if the student’s household income level is
  263  greater than or equal to 245 percent, but less than or equal to
  264  260 percent, of the federal poverty level.
  265         (b) Payment of the scholarship by the eligible nonprofit
  266  scholarship-funding organization shall be by individual warrant
  267  made payable to the student’s parent or by funds transfer,
  268  including, but not limited to, debit card, electronic payment
  269  card, or any other means of payment that the department deems to
  270  be commercially viable or cost-effective. A student’s
  271  scholarship award may not be reduced for debit card or
  272  electronic payment fees. If the payment is made by warrant
  273  parent chooses that his or her child attend an eligible private
  274  school, the warrant must be delivered by the eligible nonprofit
  275  scholarship-funding organization to the private school of the
  276  parent’s choice, and the parent shall restrictively endorse the
  277  warrant to the private school. An eligible nonprofit
  278  scholarship-funding organization shall ensure that the parent to
  279  whom the warrant is made restrictively endorsed the warrant to
  280  the private school for deposit into the account of the private
  281  school or that the parent has approved a funds transfer before
  282  any scholarship funds are deposited.
  283         Section 2. Subsection (6) of section 1012.98, Florida
  284  Statutes, is amended to read:
  285         1012.98 School Community Professional Development Act.—
  286         (6) An organization of private schools or consortium of
  287  charter schools which has no fewer than 10 member schools in
  288  this state, or an eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding
  289  organization as defined in s. 1002.395, which publishes and
  290  files with the Department of Education copies of its standards,
  291  and the member schools of which comply with the provisions of
  292  part II of chapter 1003, relating to compulsory school
  293  attendance, may also develop a professional development system
  294  that includes a master plan for inservice activities. The system
  295  and inservice plan must be submitted to the commissioner for
  296  approval pursuant to state board rules.
  297         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.