An end-of-session charter school issue to watch in Florida

How much control should Florida’s charter schools have over federal funding intended for their students?

That’s one of the key issues the Senate Appropriations Committee could debate this morning.

Its agenda includes a number of school choice-related issues that have already passed the House, from private school choice legislation to a proposal that would deregulate Florida’s top-performing public schools.

The House has already passed a wide-ranging charter school bill that largely avoided the headlines and controversy that swirled around proposals like Schools of Hope.

Some school districts and charter school critics have opposed provisions in HB 7101 that would allow charter school networks to form their own “local education agencies” to receive federal funding directly, and require school districts to give individual schools — charter or otherwise — more direct control over how their federal Title I funding gets used. Supporters say the changes would help ensure federal funding for low-income students actually gets to the students it’s supposed to help.

The plan had no counterpart in the Senate for most of the legislative session. That could change this morning under a proposed amendment that would bring SB 1362 closely in line with the House legislation.

State Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, has filed a series of amendments that, among other things, would strip out the Title I and local education agency provisions.

This debate about how much control charter schools should have over their funding will be a key issue to watch this morning and during the rest of the final week of the legislative session.

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