This Video Update features FSBA Interim Executive Director Bill Graham discussing concerns about a provision in the House charter schools bill — HB 7037 – relating to the use of district 1.5 mill capital outlay revenue to fund charter school construction projects. The video also provides an overview of the changes to the state assessment and accountability system that are contained in HB 7069 which passed the Legislature last week and an update on the House public school choice bill, HB 1145. (Please scroll down below the video to access information and advocacy tools to assist you in discussing these issues with your legislators.)
District Capital Outlay Millage Revenue
The House Charter School bill — HB 7037 — contains a provision that is likely to require the use of district 1.5 mill capital outlay revenue to fund charter school construction projects. Specifically, the bill reduces the goal for funding charter school capital outlay from 1/15to 1/40 of the cost per student station. If state funds for charter school capital outlay do not fully fund 1/40 of the cost per student station or the amount of per student funding generated by the district school board’s 1.5 mill capital outlay levy, whichever is less, then the school district must share its 1.5 mill revenue to make up the difference. It is important to note that neither the current state funding nor the proposed budget for 2015-2016 is sufficient to provide for these charter school capital outlay costs and districts would be called upon to provide a state-wide total of at least $30-$40 million out of local millage revenue. Among many concerns about this provision, this drain on local funding threatens district credit and bond ratings and could force defaults. Equally troubling is the recognition that, while school districts fund capital outlay projects based on identified and prioritized need, these funds would be distributed to charter schools regardless of any identified or prioritized need. Further, in many cases, these public funds would be provided for privately owned properties.
Action Requested: Please contact your legislators to discuss the potential impacts of this provision in your district. Be aware that, even if there are currently no charter schools in your district, this provision is an intrusion into local district planning, budgeting, and policy processes.
- Florida School District Credit Commentary by Public Financial Management, Inc.
- Background and Talking Points
- Senate Email Addresses
- House Email Addresses
Public School Choice
Current law authorizes school districts to adopt policies to offer public school choice options that would allow students to attend a school other than their assigned school. 52 school districts offer some form of public school choice option — such as charter schools, magnet schools, alternative schools, and controlled open enrollment. HB 1145 (the Senate companion bill, SB 1552, addresses several topics, including this one) would amend current law require, rather than authorize, each district school board to establish a public school choice process that must allow a parent to choose to enroll his or her child in, and transport his or her child to, any public school – including charter schools – in the district, or in the state, that has not reached capacity. HB 1145 was amended and significantly improved last week, but still contains some troubling provisions.
Action Requested: Please contact your legislators to explain that, while you support public school choice options in concept, these bills would be disruptive to existing public school choice options. Emphasize that public school choice options must be designed and controlled at the local level, rather than through a “one size fits all” state policy.