Bay District School Board votes "yes" to joining lawsuit against HB 7069

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - House Bill 7069 has received support and opposition in Bay District Schools.

During Tuesday's Bay District School Board meeting, the board voted "yes" to joining a lawsuit against the bill up to a $10,000 expenditure.

According to Ginger Littleton, School Board Chair, school boards in Broward and St. Lucie counties are involved in the lawsuit.

Bay District Schools leaders have expressed concern over the bill for reasons including mandated recess for traditional public school students, but not for charter school students.

"Now, you can explain to me, I hope, how a seven-year-old in one school needs recess and a seven-year-old in another school does not. That makes no sense. It is stupid," Littleton said.

Bay District Schools leaders are also concerned about providing equal services for all schools, regardless of size.They said in a handout, "HB 7069 strips the district of this authority and returns the majority of the funding to the school level on a per-pupil basis."

According to Littleton, the school district could lose $1.5 million or more because of the bill.

"If you live in Bay County, you're going to be paying some more at some point, maybe not now, but there's no other solution to that. We don't have other revenue streams. It's not well thought out, it's dangerous, and it needs to go away and be rethought," she said.

People were invited to speak during the public hearing.

"We think that all schools in this district should respond to the same local authority, live by the same rules, take the same tests," Alexis Underwood, the President of the Association of Bay County Educators, said.

School leaders fear the legislation could take away decision-making powers from local school boards.

"And what the legislature has done has said 'No, we're going to take part of that and we'll make the decision for you and you will do what we tell you to do and you will have no authority in those areas,'" Franklin Harrison, School Board Attorney, said.

According to Harrison, the next step would be for the Florida school boards involved in the lawsuit to find a firm to represent them.