Funding

Auditor General releases third annual review of Florida scholarship program

Step Up For Students, the state’s largest nonprofit scholarship organization, miscalculated the household income for 0.1 percent of students who applied for state-supported scholarships over a two-year period ending in 2017, according to a new Florida Auditor General report. The report, released today, is the third operational audit under a law passed in 2014. The Auditor General questioned the computation method Step Up used during those two years to establish monthly income under the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, which is limited to students of lesser financial means. Step Up used four weekly or two bi-weekly paychecks to compute a month’s income,...

Florida Board of Education approves rules governing two educational choice programs

Florida is set to become the first state in the nation to implement two unique scholarship programs – one for victims of bullying and the other for public school students struggling with reading. Rules governing these two educational choice programs, the Hope Scholarship and the Reading Scholarship Accounts, were adopted by the Florida Board of Education today. Step Up For Students, a nonprofit that publishes this blog, will be the only scholarship organization in Florida administering the two new programs. It will receive an administrative allowance equal to 3 percent of the scholarships. AAA Scholarship Foundation, the other state-approved scholarship...

Millions in Fla. charter school funding may hinge on the meaning of this phrase

Are charter schools entitled to an equal per-student share of the funding their districts raise from voter-approved property taxes? Or can districts keep all the revenue for the schools they operate themselves? The answer appears to hinge on the definition of this phrase in Florida statutes: “Current operating discretionary millage levy.” The law requires school districts to share all the revenue described by that phrase with charter schools. Last year, an Indian River County circuit judge ruled voter-approved property taxes fit that definition, and charter schools were entitled to their fair share. The Palm Beach County School Board, informed by a similar legal...

Florida approves first two Schools of Hope operators

Florida is rolling out the welcome mat for two charter school organizations ready to launch "Schools of Hope." The state Board of Education approved the applications from IDEA Public Schools and Somerset Academy with unanimous votes. They will gain access to low-cost loans for facilities, state grants and a streamlined application process if they apply to open schools in the vicinities of persistently struggling public schools. The first organization, IDEA Public Schools, hails from South Texas. It's eyeing expansion to other states. Dan Fishman, IDEA's vice president of growth and national advancement, said the organization wants to take its time opening new schools....

Fla. charter schools grapple with security funding

Even before a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School, Cynthia Aversa had been looking for ways to hire a school resource officer at the charter school she runs on Florida's Treasure Coast. After the shooting in Parkland, Fla., Aversa promptly decided to contract with the local Sheriff's office to place a full-time deputy at Indian River Charter High School, where she is principal. But she is still not sure how she is going to pay for it. “The actual nuts and bolts of the finances of the program have not come to the forefront,” she said. “The most...

Parents, charter schools hope to intervene in Florida HB 7069 lawsuit

Four charter schools and three charter parents from Southwest and Central Florida want to help defend last year's wide-ranging education law. Fourteen school districts have sued to strike six key parts of HB 7069 from the books. The parents and schools want to support five of them in Leon County court. The potential intervenors want to help the state defend provisions that would: Require local school districts to share property tax revenue with charter schools. This part of the law will be revised thanks to a new law signed by Gov. Rick Scott. Shift control over most federal Title I funding...
Florida Capitol

Florida’s new funding plan could help relieve some charter school tensions

The budget deal reached between Florida's House and Senate could ease some tensions between charter schools and districts fighting over last year's education law. It would also boost overall charter school capital funding. HB 7069 required school districts to provide charter schools an equal per-pupil share of property tax revenue for capital funding. That funding, about $91.2 million, went out to charter schools last month — but not without drama in a few districts. And it's at the center of two lawsuits challenging the law. Things would change under legislative proposals already passed by both chambers, combined with next year's state budget. Late Wednesday night,...

More context for PolitiFact on school choice funding, accountability

PolitiFact concludes a teachers union attack on school choice funding and accountability is Half True. But the evidence shows it's not remotely true.