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Okaloosa County School District Legislative Priorities for 2023

The Okaloosa County School District Legislative Priorities for 2023 focus on the recruitment and retention of employees and continued funding for safe and secure schools. Superintendent Marcus Chambers is in the process of presenting these items to the Northwest Florida Legislative Delegation with the intention of impacting upcoming legislation in these critical areas for education.

“A lot of thought has gone into these priorities. We want to be impactful and create positive change in these areas of education in our District. I plan to have personal conversations with each of our representatives in our local delegation to explain these priorities and answer any questions they may have,” stated Superintendent Marcus Chambers. 

Recruitment and Retention:
    • Extend temporary certificates from three (3) to five (5) years for all recipients in order to provide more time for completion of certification and endorsement requirements; while alleviating excessive burdens on teachers.
    • Increase the Teacher Salary Allocation, specifically in veteran teacher categories, to address salary compression due to the increase in minimum teacher salaries across Florida. Veteran teachers are continually frustrated and feel less valued as they see minimum teaching salaries continue to increase each year. Florida Statute requires Districts with teachers on a grandfathered salary schedule to continue to increase the minimum teaching salary, even after reaching $47,500.
    • Allow instructional, administrative, and support staff to return to work immediately following retirement without jeopardizing retirement compensation (Remove the requirement to “sit out” one year). 
    • Authorize all employees (instructional, support, and administrative) to be given the same opportunity to extend their Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) up to three (3) times.
    • Allow any accredited advanced degree earned by instructional staff to be eligible for a salary supplement.
    • Reinstitute an Integrated Curriculum certification for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teachers to offset the requirement that many self-contained ESE Teachers have up to five (5) certifications to be “in field.”
    • Provide opportunities for highly effective teachers to teach “Out of Field” up to three (3) years.

Safe and Secure Schools for Students and Staff: 
    • Increase funding to continue support of staffing requirements for safe-school officers in every public school.
    • Support FLDOE Office of Safe Schools request to restore the original funding for district allocations of the School Hardening Grant and to authorize the flexibility of allowable expenditures to include safety-related, non-capital outlay expenditures, to meet the specific needs of individual districts.
    • Increase funding for mental health staffing and resources in public schools and connectivity with community-based mental health services. 

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