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Florida School Recognition Program FAQ

The Florida School Recognition Program provides public recognition and financial awards to schools that have sustained high student performance or schools that demonstrate substantial improvement in student performance. The program was created by the Florida Legislature in 1997 and funds were first appropriated for awards in 1998. The A+ Plan for Education standardized program criteria and awards in 1999.

The legislation does not specify a decision making process. Therefore, guidelines for determining how the decision is made by the school's staff and SAC and for resolving any conflicts in reaching the decision may be developed at the local level. Determining a step-by-step process ahead of time may help expedite making this decision.

Yes. Section 1008.36(4)(b), F.S., states that if the school’s staff and the school advisory council cannot reach agreement by February 1, the awards must be equally distributed to all classroom teachers currently teaching in the school.

Funds are to be used for nonrecurring bonuses to the faculty and staff, nonrecurring expenditures for educational equipment or materials, or for temporary personnel to assist the school in maintaining or improving student performance (Section 1008.36(5), F.S.). The school's staff and SAC must decide to spend these funds on one or any combination of these three purposes. If the school's staff and SAC decide to give bonuses, they determine who is to receive them and how much each person will receive. The decision on the use of funds must not conflict with any district or state policies on expenditure of funds.

Yes. The school’s staff and SAC may decide to give them bonuses.

Yes. They were employed at the school when the school earned this award. Therefore, the school’s staff and SAC may give them bonuses if the decision is made before February 1.

According to Section 1008.36(5), F.S., "Notwithstanding statutory provision to the contrary, incentive awards are not subject to collective bargaining."

The Department of Education will ask award schools to provide information on successful programs and practices to share with other schools. In addition, school districts will report on how financial awards were used by each recognized school.

For the 2022-23 year, awards were distributed in October 2022.

The 2022-23 Florida School Recognition Program recognized and provided financial awards to a total of 1,463 schools.

Section 1008.36, F.S., authorizes the Florida School Recognition program.

For 2022-23, the total amount awarded to all schools for the School Recognition Program was $200,000,000.

  • Schools that sustain high performance by receiving a school grade of "A;” or
  • Schools that demonstrate exemplary improvement due to innovation and effort by improving at least one letter grade or by improving more than one letter grade and sustaining the improvement the following school year; or
  • Schools designated as alternative or ESE center schools that receive a school improvement rating of “Commendable” or improve at least one level.

Section 1008.36(2)(b), F.S., allows a school to qualify for School Recognition if the school improves by more than one letter grade and sustains the improvement in the following school year. For the 2023-24 award, this would require a school to improve their school grade by more than one letter grade between the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, and then to sustain that improvement in the 2022-23 school year. Only schools that opted in to receive a school grade in the 2020-21 school year may qualify under these criteria. Schools that did not opt in to receive a school grade in 2020-21 must qualify under one of the other criteria to receive an award in 2023-24.

Yes, for schools providing regular instruction. Section 1008.36(3), F.S., specifies that the School Recognition Program use school performance grade categories. By provision of s. 1008.341(2)(c), F.S., alternative schools (as well as ESE centers) that receive a school improvement rating of “ commendable” or improve at least one level are also eligible for school recognition.

No. Eligibility for an award is based solely on meeting the program criteria.

School districts will place these funds in a school account at the district level and the funds will be immediately available when the school's staff and school advisory council decide how to use the award money. These funds are not to be placed in a school's internal accounts.

The Department of Education includes a list of recognized schools with award amounts by district on the Florida School Recognition Program website. Additionally, a memorandum including these amounts is sent to school district finance officers prior to distribution of the funds.

The legislation gives the award school's staff and school advisory council (SAC) the authority to make this decision. If a charter school does not have a SAC, the governing body of the school should participate in the council's stead, along with the staff of the school, in determining the use of funds.