Bill would allow parents to choose any school in FL

- Florida is a state with infinite possibilities in education. The state hosts 67 districts for a total of 4,200 public schools.

Now, State Representative Chris Sprowls wants parents to have their pick of them.

"We have a lot of schools in our community that are 'A' schools. They're great schools that are not filled and have seats available for kids to have a world-class education and a path to prosperity," Sprowls said Wednesday.

The Palm Harbor-based lawmaker is backing a bill that would allow parents to send their child to any public school in the state, as long as it's not at capacity.

"It's just one more tool in the toolbox for parents," Sprowls said. 

The practice is already in place in Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Pasco counties.

"We do have a lot of partnerships across county lines. We see ourselves as a Tampa Bay region. We do know that a lot of families travel from county-to-county for work. In order to meet the needs of families, we've always had these articulation agreements in place," Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins said Wednesday.

Critics argue it puts a financial burden on successful districts and could leave underperforming schools empty. Some also question whether open enrollment would skew high school athletics to create "super teams".

Eakins says procedures are already in place to prevent that. 

"We have a policy in place that we follow. We certainly want to look at the enrollment process. We go through and there are documents that parents fill out regarding the transfer to make sure it's a allowable transfer," he said.

The bill breezed through the House Education Committee on Tuesday. Sprowls says he's hopeful it will go all the way.

"We have the opportunity to provide the right education for a student. We are all in to do that," he said.

If the bill passes a floor vote and also passes in the Senate, it would go into effect on July 1. 

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