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Funding

school choice

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...

More money for Florida education? What it needs is more customization

Florida’s constitution requires the state to make adequate provision for a uniform system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high-quality education. Back in 2009, a group called Citizens for Strong Schools filed a lawsuit asserting the state is not fulfilling this mandate, and asking the judiciary to order the state to make the necessary improvements. Both the circuit court and the appeals court ruled against the plaintiffs, but the case is still alive, with oral arguments in front of the Florida Supreme Court scheduled for Nov. 8. Some argue that if we spend enough money our...

Florida lawmakers weigh in on funding for enhanced charter school security

The Ranking House Education Democrat and PreK-12 Appropriations Chairman both said this week the state should re-examine the formula for how security funds are distributed to schools. Their comments come on the heels of reported concerns from administrators at smaller charter schools who are struggling to pay for security officers to protect their schools. Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, the Ranking Democrat, said the state needs to respond to the shortfall at some schools by taking a new look at the distribution formula. “It would be my hope that the leadership in Tallahassee recognizes that this is an issue that we can’t...

The biggest school choice myth that just won’t die

Myths about school choice are like zombies. You can land a blow here and there, and sometimes knock one down for a spell. But they always come back, ugly as ever. The most persistent and pernicious myth about school choice is that it drains/diverts/siphons funding from traditional public schools. In Florida, where education spending is indeed low relative to other states, this myth is particularly easy to prop up – and most likely to frighten. Critics repeat it. Politicians amplify it. Watchdogs, with rare exception, shrug at it. Not surprisingly, the rhetoric is especially lively as the midterm election approaches (see...

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,...