This Video Update features FSBA Executive Director Andrea Messina reporting on legislation — HJR 759 / SJR 976 — proposing an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would establish a separate entity to authorize and operate charter schools as well as recently released House and Senate proposals relating to charter school capital outlay funding. Ms. Messina also provides an update on the status of the House and Senate budget proposals. (Please scroll down below the video to access additional information about these issues.)
HJR 759 — Charter Schools by Diaz (Similar to SJR 976 by Stargel)
The bill proposes amendments to Article IX, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution to require the State Board of Education to establish a statewide charter school authorizer to authorize, operate, control, and supervise charter schools. The bill also provides that the school board shall operate, control, and supervise all free public schools within the school district, except charter schools under the control and supervision of the statewide charter school authorizer.
In effect, this legislation would create two parallel systems of public schools – one operated by the elected school board and one operated by an entity established by the State Board of Education. This gives rise to concern because it appears to violate other sections of the state constitution, particularly with regard to the requirement for a “uniform . . . system of free public schools.” This also raises questions about, among other things, how the charter schools authorized and operated by this new entity would be held publicly accountable and how they would be funded.
Charter School Capital Outlay Funding
There were already some significant differences between the House and Senate budget proposals regarding charter school capital outlay — the House has proposed allocating $90 million for charter school capital outlay while the Senate had proposed no funding for charter school capital outlay. The chambers’ differeing allocation amounts became more emphatic last week when the House and Senate released differing proposals relating to capital outlay funding policies for both traditional public schoools and charter schools. The House Proposal — contained in an amendment to HB 873 would require, among other things, school districts to share local capital outlay millage revenue with charter schools. In contrast, the Senate has proposed legislation that would revise how state funding is allocated for chater school capital outlay, but would not make any changes to current law with regard to local capital outlay millage revenue. Please see our summaries of the House language and Senate language for more information.
State Budget Process
The House and Senate each have passed their own versions of the state budget and legislative leaders soon will name members of the Conference Committee(s) that will begin the negotiation process to work out the differences between the House and Senate budgets. The Conference Committee will present a Conference Report to legislators that contains a single version of the budget.
As our budget comparison shows, there are relatively few differences between the House and Senate versions of the Education Budget, but many of the differecnes are linked to each other and/or to basic policy issues. For example, the Senate budget focuses more on increasing funding for specific categorical programs while the House budget focuses more on increasing funding for the Base Student Allocation. Also, as highlighted above, several differences exist between the House and Senate on capital outlay funding and policy.