- The House Education & Employment Committee has approved HB 1259, a piece of legislation aimed at revamping the funding process for charter schools’ capital outlay in Florida.
- The proposed legislation seeks to remove the state funding threshold and revise the calculation methodology used by the Department of Education (DOE) for allocating state funds to eligible charter schools.
- Charter schools statewide laud the bill, asserting that a refined funding model would yield a more comprehensive financial outlook.
The House Education and Employment Committee on Tuesday voted favorably for a piece of legislation seeking to alter the manner in which state funds are allocated and shared between school districts and charter schools.
The proposed legislation, HB 1259, would revamp the funding process for charter schools’ capital outlay by removing the state funding threshold and revising the calculation methodology used by the Department of Education (DOE) to allocate state funds to eligible charter schools.
Charter schools currently receive funding for capital outlay from state funds as appropriated in the General Appropriations Act. However, if the state appropriation falls short of a funding threshold, school districts are required to share local capital outlay revenue from the discretionary 1.5 millage levy with charter schools.
“We have always said that charter schools are public schools, but we have not always treated them equally — especially when it comes to facilities funding,” said Canady. “This PCS and the amendment have all the capital outlay funding they need to do great things.”
Canady also introduced an amendment to the bill, which was adopted without objection, that would implement a five-year “glide path” to provide a more gradual transition to the recalculated sharing rates.
“In the 2023-24 school year, districts would share only twenty percent,” said Canady. “This lessens the fiscal impact from $279 million to $56 million. And the state has budgeted $213.45 million to help continue to fund the public education capital outlay.”
Charter schools statewide laud the bill, asserting that a refined funding model would yield a more comprehensive financial outlook, facilitating the construction of new facilities to accommodate the growing number of charter students.
“As parents continue to move to Florida, many of those families are choosing to go to a school other than a government-run public school,” said Barney Bishop, representative of Public Charter School. “We get the dollars that come along with those students, but we don’t get the dollars for capital outlay, and that’s very important because our schools are growing. There are over 361,000 students in the state of Florida that go to charter schools, and that number is increasing every day.”
Some lawmakers, however, including Rep. Patricia Williams, took stances against the bill, citing taxpayer costs and the devaluation of public school funding.
“This will actually cost taxpayers approximately $490 million from the public school system going to corporate charter schools,” said Williams. “These are corporate schools we’re putting together using taxpayer dollars.”
There are good charter schools and there are charter schools that are a waste of money and take children out of public schools that would be much better for them to chase headcounts. When charter schools are good, they have a niche, they do something that a public school is not doing. But there is no such thing as separate funding. At the end of the day, it is all tax dollars. We only have so many tax dollars to spend. But often a non-performing charter school can limp around for a decade and drain resources away from the public school system. Almost every school will sound good on paper. What we really need is a way to weed out failing schools public or private.