After years of trying, Fla. charter schools might get access to district property tax revenue

Since 2012, some Florida lawmakers have pushed to require school districts to share their local property tax revenue with charter schools. Proposals to that effect have surfaced multiple times. But they’ve never passed, until now.

Under a wide-ranging bill, approved by the state House and Senate on the final day of an extended lawmaking session, a portion of local property tax revenue would follow students to whatever public school they attend — district or charter.

The proposal is based largely on legislation advanced by the House. An analysis by legislative staff estimated the plan would send about $146.4 million to charter schools, or almost twice the $75 million they received through the current state budget.

The money eligible for sharing with charter schools is based on the amount of construction funding districts have available after subtracting the money they need to pay construction debts they accrued before March of this year. The amount districts would have to share would also be reduced based on the amount of charter school facilities funding in the state budget, which this year would be $50 million.

That means charter schools would receive $96.4 million from district property taxes.

Without HB 7069, charter schools would just get the $50 million in the budget. That would match the low point statewide charter school facilities funding hit two years ago, creating what some advocates called a “desperate” situation. With more charter schools opening, there’s a chance the shrunken pot of money would be spread among more students than ever before.

There’s also a chance some charter schools that currently receive state facilities funding might lose access it. New state rules may deny capital outlay funding to charter schools that earn consecutive state letter grades below a C.

Some proposals floating around during the legislative session would have eliminated the statutory requirement for the state to give state funding only to charter schools with “satisfactory” student achievement, but ultimately, those proposals did not survive.

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