It seems the key players agree this should be the year Florida finds a way to fund charter schools facilities fairly.
But there are big questions about how, exactly, state lawmakers will make that happen.
A key state senator unveiled a proposal that would allow school districts to boost property taxes, and steer a portion of that money to charter schools.
The catch: That approach was contained in two bills. Only one, which would steer money to charters, made it out of its first committee hearing this past week. The other, which would increase districts’ taxing authority, was held back amid concerns it would be tantamount to a tax increase, anathema to many conservatives in the Republican-dominated Legislature.
In the House, Speaker Richard Corcoran said any tax increase would be a non-starter. That could doom the Senate’s approach. School districts say they can’t afford to share property tax revenue with charter schools unless they get the extra taxing authority.
But Corcoran also said he supports the goal of improving charter school facilities funding. He told reporters it’s high time to “bring finality to that debate” and “recognize they’re all public schools.” He declared his intent to do so more than a year ago.
How the House plans to do that is not yet clear.
One possible solution emerged in an unlikely place: Gambling legislation. The House’s gaming bill would extract a guaranteed $3 billion in revenue over seven years from the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s casinos. It would earmark a third of that money, or an average of roughly $142 million a year, for “schools that serve students from persistently failing schools.”
What does that mean? Continue Reading →