The leadership of the Florida House and Senate officially changes hands this week when Rep. Will Weatherford and Sen. Don Gaetz are sworn in as leaders of their respective chambers.
Both Republican legislators have already been coordinating their committees and working on rules for the next legislative session.
Rep. Weatherford falls in line with Gov. Rick Scott’s agenda of promoting alternatives to traditional classrooms, like virtual and charter schools.
But he has a different view of university tuition increases. Unlike Scott, Weatherford agrees with university presidents who say they need some flexibility in raising tuition to keep up with costs.
Weatherford also plans to merge two House education appropriations subcommittees.
The Higher Education and Pre-K-12 will become one if the chamber approves the plan this week. The lone subcommittee will be charged with writing the House education budgets.
Sen. Gaetz, a former superintendent of Okaloosa County schools, says he plans to steer his chamber toward a few key topics, including education reform.
That includes focusing on better measurements of student achievement and creating a friendlier job market for new college graduates.
“If we want more of something, we should use our funding system to encourage it,” he told News Service of Florida. “If we need less of something, we should subsidize it less.”
The Florida Legislature will continue to consider ways to bolster degrees and jobs in STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and math.
Gov. Scott has said he wants to avoid cuts to education next year and even hopes to increase funding.