The two-day Florida Charter School Conference officially opens Thursday with keynote speaker Deborah Kenny, founder and chief executive officer of the successful New York charter schools, Harlem Village Academies.
But a pre-conference schedule the day before offers sessions on starting a charter school and networking for principals, along with a three-hour town hall meeting featuring school leaders and legislators scheduled to talk about the future of charters in Florida.
No confirmations, yet, on the roster for that meeting. But look for discussions about charter school funding, especially calls for more oversight in light of the recent discovery of an Orlando charter school that paid its principal $800,000 last school year before the school shut down.
There might also be discussions on PECO funds – Public Education Capital Outlay dollars dedicated to school construction costs. Last year, lawmakers designated $55 million for charter schools and none for traditional public schools.
The rationale? Traditional schools can levy property taxes to build and maintain schools; charters don’t have that luxury. With 574 charter schools in 44 districts and more anticipated, expect debate about the public dollars in 2013.
Although the conference features a separate breakout session Friday on the Charter School Growth Fund, lawmakers might offer some details during the town hall meeting on how that money is used. The fund is made up of $20 million in Race To The Top dollars and $10 million in private donations.