BRADENTON - Three issues that the Manatee School District will be advocating for during the 2014 Tallahassee legislative session were ranked in order, prioritized over several other issues and decided upon by the school board at Monday's regular meeting. The proposals listed, if approved by the state, would not only affect Manatee, but all other districts in Florida.
The top three ranked issues that were suggested by board member Robert Gause and approved in a unanimous vote, were, in order:
1. Fully-funded dual enrollment programs (and continuing to allow the district and its community colleges to offer adult education programs, and repeal authorization for those colleges to limit student access to courses);
2. That Pre-K funding and pupil/teacher ratios are consistent with federal guidelines (and recommendations of the Florida Children's Movement);
3. To make laws and regulations the same for charter schools and traditional public schools.
Gause argued that #1 would provide "an immediate benefit to the distict, the all other districts in the state and to our students," that #2 would also be an important benefit but would take more time to take effect, and that #3 should be prioritized because the two types of schools ought to operate "on the same page."
Board member David Miner, who seconded Gause's motion, said he agreed that the three issues brought up should be prioritized, but that "all eight have merit."
The full list (to be submitted to the Florida School Boards Association, who will represent each district during the legislative session) contains eight issues. The other five will not be ranked in order as the top three issues have been.
Another issue on the list that was discussed at some length was for the state to, "fully fund all elements of the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP)." Deputy Superintendent Diana Greene advised that the request is justified as the state requires all elements of the FEFP to be enacted. "Whatever they're asking us to do, all we're asking is that they fully fund it," Greene said.
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