Funding

school safety

Parkland Commission recommends sheriffs train school staff by law

The Marjory Stoneman High School Public Safety Commission wants lawmakers to require Florida’s sheriffs to train public school staffers to carry a gun on campus. The commission voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend the change to a guardian program that was named after the Stoneman Douglas coach, Aaron Feis, who died protecting students. The program provides law enforcement training to public school staffers, excluding teachers, who want to carry a gun on campus, but current law does not require sheriff’s offices to participate. So far, only 25 of 67 school districts are participating in the program, according to the Florida Department...

Florida’s gains give hope for the future – but hope is not a plan

  This is the state of things. Now, make your plans.                                                             -Sophocles Antigone Florida is getting it from both barrels of the age demographic gun – a rise in the elderly, super-elderly and youth all at the same time. On average, 10,000 Baby Boomers per day will reach the age of 65 until 2030, whereupon all surviving Boomers have reached retirement age. For the Florida economy, retirees are a way of life and benefit the state’s economy as they come in and buy condos. But the pain to the state budget hits later, when they near the end and draw...
charter schools

Gap persists on charter funding

Charter schools have become a popular choice for families seeking alternative ways to educate their children. In 2017-18, more than 7,000 charter schools in the United States enrolled nearly 3.2 million students, an increase of 5 percent over the previous year. Even though charters are public schools, they have been consistently underfunded compared to their traditional public school counterparts. A new study released this week offers a fresh look at this ongoing – and in some cases, increasing – inequity. Researchers at the University of Arkansas, led by Corey A. DeAngelis of the Cato Institute and Patrick J. Wolf of the...
school security

Charter officials hope lawmakers expand access to Guardian program

Florida charter school officials struggling to comply with the state’s new campus safety mandates are hoping lawmakers can help: Expand access to the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program by requiring all county sheriffs to participate in training armed school personnel. After the Parkland shooting in February, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law legislation increasing security measures at schools. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act requires all public schools to hire a school resource officer (SRO), a sheriff’s deputy or trained employee to carry a gun on campus. However, many charter schools (which receive less in revenue than traditional...

Will school districts share tax increase revenues with charter schools?

As voters in eight Florida counties Tuesday approved extra taxes for public schools, charter school officials aren’t sure whether any of that money will be shared with charters. Four of the counties – Alachua, Lee, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach – made formal decisions prior to the election not to share the revenue from tax increases with charter schools. Three others – Charlotte, Hillsborough and Polk – say they intend to share some portions. The eighth county, Martin, could not be reached for comment. Charter officials say they are troubled by the decisions because they believe charters, as public schools, should also...

Key lawmakers look to increase security at all Florida schools

  In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead, key Florida lawmakers are looking to increase security at both public and private schools in this state. Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, says he wants to introduce legislation allowing private schools to participate in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program. That program currently provides law enforcement training to public school staffers who want to carry a gun on campus. “We created a program for public schools that said if they could choose to send their staff members to get special training, the state would pay for it and...

Florida B.O.E. requests additional $10 million for charter school construction

The Florida Board of Education last week asked lawmakers to give charter schools an extra $10.2 million for classroom construction next year, increasing the charter allocation from the Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) fund to $155 million. That recommendation was made easier by the projected growth in the gross receipts tax that feeds the PECO fund, but it also calls attention to a new trigger built into law that is designed to protect charter schools from dips in state support. Under a new law intended to provide a safety net for charter capital funding, school districts are required to share...

Charter schools struggle with teacher shortages

Clint Duvo had difficulty finding a qualified candidate to teach his career planning class last year. So the principal of Somerset Academy Lakes Elementary and Sports Leadership and Management Middle School in Palm Beach, with more than 90 percent of their students on free or reduced-price lunch, decided to teach the class himself. “It is a challenge to find people who … meet criteria in more than one subject matter,” he said. Duvo is not alone. Like many traditional public schools, charter school principals are struggling to find teachers and retain them. Charter officials say the problem has become worse in the...