A compromise for parent-trigger schools bill?

April 26, 2013 

Could a compromise be coming for the parent trigger?

It's anybody's guess what will happen with the controversial proposal, which would let parents demand sweeping changes at failing public schools.

More senators have been on board since Sen. David Simmons added a provision that would let school boards override parent petitions. Among them: Sens. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando.

But earlier this week, Sen. Kelli Stargel, the Lakeland Republican who is sponsoring the bill, said she intended to have Simmons' language stripped. "I want to make sure parent voices are actually heard and not just taken under advisement," she said.

On Thursday, Simmons said he was working on a compromise. The new language would still let school boards reject parent plans. But if the school failed to improve, the school board would have to adopt the parent turnaround proposal the following year.

"We would be keeping local school board control, but also making sure that school boards are accountable to the people they serve," Simmons said.

Simmons believes he can get to 21 votes if the amendment passes.

"A group of senators have made it clear that they will vote for the bill with that amendment," he said, adding that the language may also assuage concerns Gov. Rick Scott and state Education Commissioner Tony Bennett have with the bill.

It won't, however, be enough to win over the teachers' union.

"Nope," said Jeff Wright, the Florida Education Association's director of public policy advocacy. "We would definitely still have issues with the bill."

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