Best and Brightest Changes

Again this year, both chambers of the state legislature are looking to make changes to the “Best and Brightest” program. The proposals are significantly different from one another, but do have three similarities:

  1. Both the House and Senate proposals remove the SAT/ACT requirement
  2. Both proposals put the Best and Brightest funding into the FEFP
  3. Both proposals limit the awards to K-12 classroom teachers as defined in F.S. 1012.01 (2)(a):

Classroom teachers are staff members assigned the professional activity of instructing students in courses in classroom situations, including basic instruction, exceptional student education, career education, and adult education, including substitute teachers.

We continue to oppose this program for many reasons including its exclusion of education staff professionals, pre-kindergarten teachers, and K-12 instructional personnel other than classroom teachers.

We know that the funds could be better, and more fairly utilized, if the funds were simply applied to the Base Student Allocation (BSA). This would allow for locals and districts to collectively bargain for raises and/or offsets to health insurance costs for all employees.

What follows are the differences between the House and Senate Proposals:

House Education Appropriations Subcommittee Bill:

  • K-12 classroom teachers rated Highly Effective receive a $2,000 bonus
  • K-12 classroom teachers rated Effective receive up to $1,100 bonus dependent on availability of funds.
  • Instructional personnel who are not classroom teachers are only eligible if they were classroom teachers in the previous year.
    • By way of example, if a classroom teacher earned Highly Effective in 2019-20 and became a guidance counselor in the 2020-21 year, they would receive the $2,000 bonus in 2020-21 but would not be eligible for future bonuses unless they returned to the classroom.

Senate Bill 7070:

  • Creates three different Best and Brightest programs, “Recruitment,” “Retention,” and “Recognition.” There are no specific dollar amounts attached to the bonuses in the bill.
  • Recruitment Bonus: Newly hired K-12 classroom teacher who is a “content expert” in mathematics, science, computer science, reading or civics.” Neither the term “newly-hired” nor “content expert” are defined in the bill. A teacher can only earn this bonus once.
  • Retention Bonus: K-12 classroom teachers who meet all of the following criteria:
    • Rated Highly Effective or Effective
    • Taught in the same school for two consecutive years
    • Taught in a school that “improved an average of three percentage points or more in the percentage of total possible points achieved for determining school grades over the prior three years.”
  • Recognition Bonus: K-12 classroom teachers who are rated highly effective or effective and are selected by their school principal. The bill does not provide criteria by which principals are to select teachers but does require school boards to adopt policies to determine the criteria. The recognition bonus would be paid out with whatever funds are remaining after the recruitment and retention bonuses have been allocated.