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. 16 17 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 18 19 Section 1. Section 1002.411, Florida Statutes, is created 20 to read: 21 1002.411 Reading 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. 30 (3) PARENT AND STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES FOR PARTICIPATION.— 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. 69 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. 92 (6) SCHOOL DISTRICT OBLIGATIONS; PARENTAL OPTIONS.—Upon 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. 98 (7) ACCOUNT FUNDING AND PAYMENT.— 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. 159 160 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). 166 (3) AUTHORITY FOR AUDITS AND OTHER ENGAGEMENTS.—The Auditor 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.