Funding

Fla. school board says it won’t ‘claw back’ charter school capital funds if districts win suit

Two Florida school boards have turned over funding they withheld from charter schools while they challenged the constitutionality of a contentious new education law. WLRN reports that, after receiving a rebuke from the Florida Department of Education, the Broward and Orange County School Boards have provided charter schools with their share of local capital outlay funding. And controversy continues to swirl around the districts' move and the state's intervention. Both districts provided evidence to the state on Friday that they had distributed the money to charter schools — including, in Broward’s case, about $204,000 to five schools that have indicated they plan...

State wants explanation from districts withholding charter school funds

The Florida Department of Education has rebuked a pair of school districts that did not release millions of dollars in funding to charter schools by Feb. 1, as a new state law requires. Two Leon County judges ruled in separate cases in January that school districts needed to provide charter schools with their share of local capital outlay funding while they challenged the law in court. However, two school districts involved in the cases — Orange and Broward Counties — declined to provide the funding. Instead, they informed charter schools in their jurisdictions that they would keep the money in escrow accounts while...

School choice proposal for bullying, violence victims stirs passions

Jacob Lebron is growing up with Aspergers Syndrome. In elementary school, his mother told a panel of state lawmakers, "he was different, so other kids called him weird." Then, in middle school, it got worse. At another parent's suggestion, his mother, Evelyn Rivera, applied for a Gardiner Scholarship*. She used the education savings account to pay his tuition at Temple Christian School in Titusville, Fla. There were no more bullies. New opportunities, like a chance to try out for the basketball team, opened up. "It was such a turnaround," Rivera said. "He's made friends who accept him. He's been involved in all...

Fla. charter schools warned not to spend local capital funding (updated)

Some Florida charter schools in line for an infusion of local funding for capital projects are getting warnings from school districts not to spend the money. And some still haven't gotten the money at all. Two Leon County judges ruled last month in two separate cases that charter schools could receive their share of district property tax revenue for capital projects by Feb. 1, as a new state law requires. The judges ruled the fourteen districts would not suffer "irreparable harm" if they sent the money to charters while courts weigh three separate legal actions against the new law, known as HB...

Could casinos help fund ‘Schools of Hope?’

Few issues attract more special-interest attention during Florida's annual legislative sessions than gambling legislation and the state budget. The long-term prospects of House Speaker Richard Corcoran's signature initiative to attract proven charter school operators to the state could hinge on both. His chamber is advancing a budget bill that would keep funding for Schools of Hope available for up to five years after the Legislature appropriates it. That would help ensure money for the program, which received $140 million in its first year, can fulfill its intended purpose. Right now, the state has committed tens of millions of those dollars to 25...

Fla. House, Senate take different approaches to charter school capital funding

The two chambers of the Florida Legislature proposed different approaches to funding charter school facilities in their competing spending plans released late last week. The ensuing negotiations could affect not only charter schools' bottom lines but those of nearly two-thirds of Florida's school districts. A major education law passed last year, coupled with a trio of lawsuits aiming to block it, add extra layers of potential intrigue to the annual budget talks. The current state budget provides $50 million in state funding for Charter School Capital Outlay and another $50 million for school districts. The state Senate's plan for next year would largely...

Stop paying teachers like they’re ‘making widgets,’ lawmakers say

FORT LAUDERDALE - Too many schools pay all their teachers the same way. And that might be keeping talented people out of the profession, Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, told a charter school gathering Friday. Florida schools need to find a better way to reward top teachers, he said. Most districts rely on "step-and-lane" salary schedules that pay teachers based on their level of graduate degree, and increase pay with each year of experience. Florida's foray into merit pay added teacher evaluations to the mix. That had limited effects. Diaz, who chairs the House's education budget committee, said the system doesn't offer enough...

Hurricanes leave uncertainty in Florida school enrollment

By Lloyd Dunkelberger News Service of Florida The impact of hurricanes may be a complicating factor as lawmakers try to figure out how many students are in Florida's public schools this year and how many might show up next year. An enrollment estimate will be critical as the Legislature creates a roughly $24 billion public-school budget for the 2018-2019 academic year. If more students show up than estimated next year, it will result in a reduction in per-student funding, as money will have to be pro-rated among the 67 school districts to account for the population increase. “If you have more students (than...