A program to create year-round schools in some Florida districts passes through the Florida Legislature. If approved, the pilot program will begin next year and run for four years. Local10.
Senate Bill 1564 was passed unanimously in the Pre-K-12 Education Committee this month. It then goes to the Education Appropriations Committee.
The Florida Commissioner of Education will decide which school districts will participate.
A year-round school can help students recover from learning losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporters say. CityStateFl.
State law requires school boards to operate schools for 180 days a year, or the hourly equivalent, but schools may operate on a year-round schedule.
"The goal of the program is for the Department of Education to assist school districts in establishing a year-round school program in at least one elementary school in the district and to explore the challenges, benefits, and scheduling options for establishing year-round school programs for all students," the bill states.
Districts can apply to participate in the program. The State Education Commissioner will select five districts to participate, and "to the extent possible," these districts will "represent a variety of demographic groups, including, but not limited to, urban, suburban, and rural school districts."
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“Firstly, this bill can help every participating child. Secondly, we lost two years due to COVID for education. Third, juvenile delinquency is on the rise when our children are out of school,” said bill sponsor Patricia Williams.
Districts applying will be required to provide information on the number of elementary school students who will participate, the academic performance and absenteeism of those students, and the "commitment of the teaching staff of such school or schools and students to year-round schooling."
Districts wishing to participate will also be required to provide "an explanation of how implementing a year-round school program will benefit students."
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After the completion of the four-year pilot project, the Commissioner for Education will submit a report that will include a recommendation to "adopt year-round school programs for all students."