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Key senator pitches school spending requirement

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Following the lead of Gov. Ron DeSantis, a key lawmaker Wednesday filed a proposal that would place a new requirement on school districts to steer money to classrooms.

Senate Education Chairman Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, filed the proposal (SB 1434) for consideration during the legislative session that starts Tuesday.

The proposal would focus on money that districts receive through the main state funding formula, known as the Florida Education Finance Program, or FEFP. Diaz wants districts to be required to spend 80 percent of that money on what the bill describes as classroom purposes, such as teacher salaries, classroom supplies and technology used by students.

DeSantis also has backed the idea, including during his election campaign last year.

It drew criticism from Democrats and the Florida Education Association teachers union, which described the proposal as a “gimmick.”