Want to see that charter school’s budget or who sits on its governing board? How about its financial audits? Or whether it is owned by a management company?
Under a bill passed by lawmakers last week, every Florida charter school must maintain a website where it posts that information and then some, beginning in the 2013-14 school year.
“That’s so parents, the media and the community can see how much money the charter is spending on administration, facilities, fees … and compare that with other schools,’’ said Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz. “If there’s something wrong, people can see that online.’’
The provision is one of the less publicized pieces of House Bill 7009, which is now awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature.
Most of the attention on the bill has been focused on its calls for better financial oversight of charter schools. Among other changes, the legislation requires charter operators to file uniform monthly financial reports to school districts that will include balance sheets, revenue statements, expenditures and, new this session, changes in the fund balance.
“This is incredibly important,’’ said Legg, who filed an amendment detailing the procedure during the final week of session. The reports “are critical to bringing transparency to the process.’’
The bill also requires charter schools to get prior written approval from their district sponsors before spending more than $10,000, unless the expenditure was included in the school’s annual budget.
The tougher controls follow last year’s headlines surrounding a struggling Orlando charter school that paid its principal more than $800,000 before shutting down. The payment totaled twice as much as the school spent on its educational program that year, according to the Orlando Sentinel.