As a follow up to my communication related to HB7069 – the Education Funding Conforming bill, I want to provide you a summary of the critical elements that represent a significant challenge to public schools across the state, including Clay County. This bill was approved by the Senate and House Monday evening and now sits on the desk of Governor Rick Scott awaiting his signature. While this bill contains a number of positive refinements for education and implementing quality services, it equally compromises our capacity to provide a first-class experience for our children and youth of Clay County.
My greatest concerns of HB7069 are as follows:
- Charter Schools will be allowed to bypass land use and zoning requirements of local jurisdictions, while the school district and taxpayers are not given the same flexibility.
- Reduces categorical funding for the Lowest 300 schools.
- Permits Charter Schools to “rate” school districts on their performance and services, but does not allow the same opportunity for districts to “grade” the quality of services and communication of charter schools.
- Shares Capital Outlay dollars with Charter Schools, even if Charter Schools have not proven a need for such funding. Additionally, Capital Outlay money can be used to fund sick or annual leave payouts to employees leaving the district and going to work at a Charter School. This type of fund should be used for facilities, maintenance, and infrastructure.
- School of Hope language permits Charter School governing boards to be designated as a local educational agency that allows them to remain largely unaccountable to the public despite receiving a significant amount of tax payer funding.
- Schools of Hope will be awarded $200 million, allowing a charter company to take over the most vulnerable students in Florida without a proven record of success or requiring certified teachers or administrators. This is funding that should be placed back into school districts’ operating funds for innovative and creative programming options that will better serve students in our communities.
- Removes flexibility for the district to support Title I programs across multiple schools, directing funds only to the school and not at district supports.
- Charter Schools now have the ability to offer PreK, which directly competes with traditional public schools.
As I shared with you on Monday, Florida public school districts not only have to face a decrease in basic student funding, but now have new restrictions on how the decreased funds are utilized. I urge you to reach out to the Governor Scott and ask him to veto this devastating bill that will negatively impact public education. His office number is (850) 488-7146 or email him from the Governor’s Office link at www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/. Thank you for your support in this fight for our children and youth. I will update you as information comes available.