(1) The Department of Education, in cooperation with teacher organizations, district personnel offices, and schools, colleges, and departments of all public and nonpublic postsecondary educational institutions, shall concentrate on the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers.
(2) The Department of Education shall:
(a) Develop and implement a system for posting teaching vacancies and establish a database of teacher applicants that is accessible within and outside the state.
(b) Advertise in major newspapers, national professional publications, and other professional publications and in public and nonpublic postsecondary educational institutions.
(c) Utilize state and nationwide toll-free numbers.
(d) Conduct periodic communications with district personnel directors regarding applicants.
(e) Provide district access to the applicant database by computer or telephone.
(f) Develop and distribute promotional materials related to teaching as a career.
(g) Publish and distribute information pertaining to employment opportunities, application procedures, and all routes toward teacher certification in Florida, and teacher salaries.
(h) Provide information related to certification procedures.
(i) Develop and sponsor the Florida Future Educator of America Program throughout the state.
(j) Develop, in consultation with school district staff including, but not limited to, district school superintendents, district school board members, and district human resources personnel, a long-range plan for educator recruitment and retention.
(k) Identify best practices for retaining high-quality teachers.
(l) Create guidelines and identify best practices for the mentors of first-time teachers and for new teacher-support programs that focus on the professional assistance needed by first-time teachers throughout the first year of teaching. The department shall consult with the Florida Center for Reading Research and the Just Read, Florida! Office in developing the guidelines.
(m) Develop and implement a First Response Center to provide educator candidates one-stop shopping for information on teaching careers in Florida and establish the Teacher Lifeline Network to provide online support to beginning teachers and those needing assistance.
(n) Develop and implement an online Teacher Toolkit that contains a menu of resources, based on the Sunshine State Standards, that all teachers can use to enhance classroom instruction and increase teacher effectiveness, thus resulting in improved student achievement.
(o) Establish a week designated as Educator Appreciation Week to recognize the significant contributions made by educators to their students and school communities.
(p) The Department of Education shall notify each teacher, via e-mail, of each item in the General Appropriations Act and legislation that affects teachers, including, but not limited to, the Excellent Teaching Program, the Teachers Lead Program, liability insurance protection for teachers, death benefits for teachers, substantive legislation, rules of the State Board of Education, and issues concerning student achievement.
(3)(a) Each school board shall adopt policies relating to mentors and support for first-time teachers based upon guidelines issued by the Department of Education.
(b) By September 15 and February 15 each school year, each school district shall electronically submit accurate public school e-mail addresses for all instructional and administrative personnel, as identified in s. 1012.01(2) and (3), to the Department of Education.
(4) The Department of Education, in cooperation with district personnel offices, shall sponsor a job fair in a central part of the state to match in-state educators and potential educators and out-of-state educators and potential educators with teaching opportunities in this state. The Department of Education is authorized to collect a job fair registration fee not to exceed $20 per person and a booth fee not to exceed $250 per school district or other interested participating organization. The revenue from the fees shall be used to promote and operate the job fair. Funds may be used to purchase promotional items such as mementos, awards, and plaques.
(5) Subject to proviso in the General Appropriations Act, the Commissioner of Education may use funds appropriated by the Legislature and funds from federal grants and other sources to provide incentives for teacher recruitment and preparation programs. The purpose of the use of such funds is to recruit and prepare individuals who do not graduate from state-approved teacher preparation programs to teach in a Florida public school. The commissioner may contract with entities other than, and including, approved teacher preparation programs to provide intensive teacher training leading to passage of the required certification exams for the desired subject area or coverage. The commissioner shall survey school districts to evaluate the effectiveness of such programs.
(6) The Commissioner of Education shall take steps that provide flexibility and consistency in meeting the highly qualified teacher criteria as defined in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 through a High, Objective, Uniform State Standard of Evaluation (HOUSSE).