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Bill That Expands Public School Vouchers Advances

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TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) — Students in public schools rated “D” or “F” would be able to transfer to a better-rated public school in their district or any other district in the state under a bill approved unanimously by the House K-20 Innovation Committee on Tuesday.

The measure (HB 1331) expands the definition of a failing school and allows students to transfer after a school has received a “D” for two school years in a four-year period or and an “F” for one school year in a two-year period.

It also mandates that if a child transfers to a better-rated school in their district, that the district has to provide transportation. This measure expands upon the Opportunity Scholarships established by the Legislature in 1999.

The portion that allowed students to transfer to private schools was shut down after the Florida Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

Opportunity Scholarships still exist, but only allow public school students in failing schools to transfer to other highly-rated public schools.

Patricia Levesque, the executive director of the former Gov. Jeb Bush-backed Foundation for Florida’s Future, which advocates for school vouchers, said 1,400 students statewide have Opportunity Scholarships.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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