- The Florida Department of Education has proposed a rule change related to charter schools’ eligibility for public “capital outlay” funding.
- The change would lower the accountability standards for charter schools, allowing those with lower grades continued access to funding.
- The proposal aligns with a law approved earlier that requires school districts to share local property-tax revenues with charter schools.
The Florida Department of Education has proposed a rule change that would effectively lower accountability standards for charter schools in the state, sparking both criticism and support in various education sectors. The rule change pertains to the eligibility of charter schools for receiving public “capital outlay” funding, which is used for property acquisitions and facilities construction and improvement.
The proposed change, announced last Friday, originates from a law (HB 1537) approved this year by the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis. At present, the Department of Education restricts charter schools that receive an “F” grade, or two consecutive grades lower than “C” under the state’s accountability system, from accessing capital outlay money.
Under the proposed change, this bar would be lowered, meaning charter schools under the previous standard of a single “F” grade or two consecutive “C” grades would remain eligible, but schools that receive two consecutive “F” grades or three consecutive grades below “C” would be ineligible for the funding. The rule change comes on the heels of a separate measure (HB 1259), which requires school districts to share local property-tax revenues with charter schools.
A message sent to the Florida Department of Education seeking an explanation for the proposed rule change was not immediately returned.
Charter schools are public institutions that operate under a performance contract, or a “charter,” which provides them with a degree of flexibility from many traditional public school regulations. The charter details the school’s mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success. Most charters are granted for a period of five years.
The guiding principles for Florida’s charter schools, as established by the Florida Legislature, focus on high standards of student achievement and increasing parental choice, and are especially popular in school districts with lower overall performance because they give parents a competitive option.