Collier school board sets priorities on testing, funding ahead of the legislative session

With the COVID-19 pandemic and its ramifications in mind, the Collier County School Board has set its priorities for the 2021 legislative session. 

Superintendent Kamela Patton and school board Chairman Erick Carter attended a meeting of the Collier County legislative delegation last week to share what the board wants to see done in Tallahassee next year.

The school board members passed their platform unanimously Monday.

“This is going to be a very flexible year as a living, breathing document,” Vern Pickup-Crawford said at the meeting. 

Pickup-Crawford, a lobbyist for the school district, serves as president for the Schoolhouse Consulting Group, based near West Palm Beach. 

Pickup-Crawford said this year is a fluid situation as ongoing issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic come into play. 

“As everyone can expect next session is going to be all budget and COVID focused,” Ron LaFace Jr., a lobbyist with Capital City Consulting, said at Monday’s school board meeting. “Both the Speaker (Chris) Sprowls and (Florida Senate) President Wilton Simpson have cautioned lobbyists and special interests not to bring any non-COVID policy items to the legislature as they do not believe they’re going to have the bandwidth or time to properly consider them.”

LaFace Jr. said incoming House Speaker Sprowls does not intend to make cuts to K-12 education.

The district’s three guiding principles remained the same as last year, including an increase in the amount of money allocated each year to the district per student, one year lead time between rolling out new programs or changes and a push for continued local control and flexibility for school boards.