Florida Senate - 2018                                    SB 1820
       By Senator Perry
       8-01168-18                                            20181820__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to reading scholarship accounts;
    3         creating s. 1002.411, F.S.; establishing reading
    4         scholarship accounts for specified purposes; providing
    5         for eligibility for scholarships under the program;
    6         providing for administration; providing duties of the
    7         Department of Education; providing school district
    8         obligations; specifying options for parents; providing
    9         that maximum funding shall be specified in the General
   10         Appropriations Act; providing for payment of funds;
   11         specifying that no state liability arises from the
   12         award or use of such an account; amending s. 11.45,
   13         F.S.; providing for duties and authority of the
   14         Auditor General relating to the program; providing an
   15         effective date.
   17  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   19         Section 1. Section 1002.411, Florida Statutes, is created
   20  to read:
   21         1002.411Reading scholarship accounts.—
   22         (1)READING SCHOLARSHIP ACCOUNTS.—Reading scholarship
   23  accounts are established to provide educational options for
   24  students.
   25         (2)ELIGIBILITY.—Contingent upon available funds, and on a
   26  first-come, first-served basis, a student enrolled in a Florida
   27  public school is eligible for a scholarship under this program
   28  if the student scored a Level 1 or Level 2 on the grade 3
   29  statewide, standardized English Language Arts assessment.
   31         (a)For an eligible student to receive a reading
   32  scholarship account, the student’s parent must:
   33         1.Submit an application to an eligible scholarship funding
   34  organization by the deadline established by the scholarship
   35  funding organization; and
   36         2.Submit eligible expenses to the scholarship funding
   37  organization for reimbursement of qualifying expenditures which
   38  may include:
   39         a.Instructional materials.
   40         b.Curriculum. As used in this sub-subparagraph, the term
   41  “curriculum” means a complete course of study for a particular
   42  content area or grade level, including any required supplemental
   43  materials and associated online instruction.
   44         c.Tuition and fees for part-time tutoring services. The
   45  services shall be provided by a person who holds a valid Florida
   46  educator’s certificate pursuant to s. 1012.56; a person who
   47  holds an adjunct teaching certificate pursuant to s. 1012.57; or
   48  a person who has demonstrated a mastery of subject area
   49  knowledge pursuant to s. 1012.56(5).
   50         d.Fees for specialized summer education programs.
   51         e.Fees for specialized after-school education programs.
   52         f.Specialized services by approved providers or by a
   53  hospital in this state which are selected by the parent. These
   54  specialized services may include, but are not limited to:
   55         (I)Applied behavior analysis services as provided in ss.
   56  627.6686 and 641.31098.
   57         (II)Services provided by speech-language pathologists as
   58  defined in s. 468.1125.
   59         (III)Occupational therapy services as defined in s.
   60  468.203.
   61         (IV)Services provided by physical therapists as defined in
   62  s. 486.021.
   63         (V)Services provided by listening and spoken language
   64  specialists and an appropriate acoustical environment for a
   65  child who is deaf or hard of hearing and who has received an
   66  implant or assistive hearing device.
   67         (VI)Contributions to the Florida College Savings Program
   68  pursuant to s. 1009.981 for the benefit of the eligible student.
   70  A provider of any services receiving payments pursuant to this
   71  subsection may not share, refund, or rebate any moneys from the
   72  reading scholarship with the parent or participating student in
   73  any manner. A parent, student, or provider of any services may
   74  not bill an insurance company, Medicaid, or any other agency for
   75  the same services that are paid for using reading scholarship
   76  funds.
   77         (b)The parent is responsible for the payment of all
   78  eligible expenses in excess of the amount in the account in
   79  accordance with the terms agreed to between the parent and the
   80  providers and may not receive any refund or rebate of any
   81  expenditures made in accordance with paragraph (a).
   82         (4)ADMINISTRATION.—A scholarship funding organization
   83  participating in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program
   84  established by s. 1002.395 may establish Reading Scholarship
   85  accounts for eligible students in accordance with the
   86  requirements of scholarship funding organizations under this
   87  chapter.
   88         (5)DEPARTMENT OBLIGATIONS.—The department shall have the
   89  same duties imposed by this chapter upon the department
   90  regarding oversight of scholarship programs administered by a
   91  scholarship funding organization.
   93  report of the assessment results pursuant to s. 1008.22(7)(h),
   94  the school district shall notify each parent, whose student
   95  scored a Level 1 or Level 2 on the grade 3 statewide,
   96  standardized English Language Arts assessment, of the process to
   97  request and receive a scholarship, subject to available funding.
   99         (a)The maximum amount granted for an eligible student
  100  shall be provided in the General Appropriations Act.
  101         (b)One hundred percent of the funds appropriated for the
  102  program shall be released to the department at the beginning of
  103  the first quarter of each fiscal year.
  104         (c)Upon notification from the organization that a student
  105  has been determined eligible, the department shall release the
  106  student’s scholarship funds to the organization to be deposited
  107  into the student’s account.
  108         (d)Accrued interest in the student’s account is in
  109  addition to, and not part of, the awarded funds. Program funds
  110  include both the awarded funds and accrued interest.
  111         (e)The organization may develop a system for payment of
  112  benefits by funds transfer, including, but not limited to, debit
  113  cards, electronic payment cards, or any other means of payment
  114  that the department deems to be commercially viable or cost
  115  effective. A student’s scholarship award may not be reduced for
  116  debit card or electronic payment fees. Commodities or services
  117  related to the development of such a system shall be procured by
  118  competitive solicitation unless they are purchased from a state
  119  term contract pursuant to s. 287.056. The school district shall
  120  report all students who are receiving a reading scholarship
  121  account under this program. These students shall be reported
  122  separately from other students reported for purposes of the
  123  Florida Education Finance Program.
  124         (f)Payment of the scholarship shall be made by the
  125  eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization no less
  126  frequently than on a quarterly basis.
  127         (g)An organization may use up to 3 percent of eligible
  128  contributions received during the state fiscal year in which
  129  specifying parent and student responsibilities for
  130  participation; such contributions are collected for
  131  administrative expenses if the organization has operated as an
  132  eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding organization for at least
  133  the preceding 3 fiscal years and did not have any findings of
  134  material weakness or material noncompliance in its most recent
  135  audit under s. 1002.395(6)(m). Such administrative expenses must
  136  be reasonable and necessary for the organization’s management
  137  and distribution of eligible contributions under this section.
  138  Funds authorized under this paragraph may not be used for
  139  lobbying or political activity or expenses related to lobbying
  140  or political activity. Up to one-third of the funds authorized
  141  for administrative expenses under this paragraph may be used for
  142  expenses related to the recruitment of contributions from
  143  taxpayers. An eligible nonprofit scholarship-funding
  144  organization may not charge an application fee.
  145         (h)Moneys received pursuant to this section do not
  146  constitute taxable income to the qualified student or his or her
  147  parent.
  148         (8)LIABILITY.—No liability shall arise on the part of the
  149  state based on the award or use of a Reading Scholarship
  150  Account.
  151         Section 2. Paragraph (l) is added to subsection (2), and
  152  paragraph (y) is added to subsection (3) of section 11.45,
  153  Florida Statutes, to read:
  154         11.45 Definitions; duties; authorities; reports; rules.—
  155         (2) DUTIES.—The Auditor General shall:
  156         (l)Annually conduct financial and operational audits of
  157  all scholarship-funding organizations participating in a
  158  scholarship program created under part III of chapter 1002.
  160  The Auditor General shall perform his or her duties
  161  independently but under the general policies established by the
  162  Legislative Auditing Committee. This subsection does not limit
  163  the Auditor General’s discretionary authority to conduct other
  164  audits or engagements of governmental entities as authorized in
  165  subsection (3).
  167  General may, pursuant to his or her own authority, or at the
  168  direction of the Legislative Auditing Committee, conduct audits
  169  or other engagements as determined appropriate by the Auditor
  170  General of:
  171         (y)The accounts and records of any scholarship-funding
  172  organization participating in a scholarship program created
  173  under part III of chapter 1002.
  174         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2018.