Florida’s school districts raise more than $2 billion a year in property tax revenue for capital projects. For years, state lawmakers have tried to require them to share some of that money with charter schools. But they keep running into the same problem.
School districts say they can’t afford to share local property tax revenue with charters. They say much of the local money they raise for school facilities is tied up paying off bonds they used to finance past construction. Credit rating agencies have backed up this argument. They say splitting money equitably among districts and charters could destabilize districts’ finances.
The Florida House has hatched a new proposal intended to navigate these obstacles.
A bill released late Friday, and set to be discussed tomorrow by the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee, would require school districts to split their local property tax revenue with charter schools. But first, the state would deduct the amount of money each district has set aside to pay its construction debts. The remaining money would be shared among district and charter schools, based on the number of students enrolled. If lawmakers set aside charter school capital outlay funding in the state budget, that would offset the amount districts would be required to share with charters.