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Education

Amendment Would Give Charter Schools A Share Of School Construction Money

Sen. Don Gaetz has filed an amendment which would force school districts to share local construction money with charter schools.
Sen. Don Gaetz has filed an amendment which would force school districts to share local construction money with charter schools.
Sen. Don Gaetz has filed an amendment which would force school districts to share local construction money with charter schools.
Credit JD Hancock / Flickr
Sen. Don Gaetz has filed an amendment which would force school districts to share local construction money with charter schools.

School districts would have to share local school construction and maintenance money with charter schools, according to an amendment filed by an influential state senator.

Sen. Don Gaetz, former Senate president, filed the amendment Tuesday. The amendment would require half of the money raised by an optional local property tax to be split between charter and traditional schools on a per-student basis.

Studies have found publicly funded but privately run charter schools typically receive less money per student than traditional public schools. A good piece of the difference in Florida is the local construction money — which few school districts share with charter schools.

Earmarking a source of construction funding has been a top priority of charter schools for years. Charter schools argue their parents are taxpayers too, so public money should pay for charter school construction and maintenance.

Every year school districts and charter schools fight over a dwindling pool of construction and maintenance money funded by utility taxes in the state budget.Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to cut those taxes could mean even less money to fight over.

But there are good arguments for charter schools receiving less money than traditional charter schools.

In Florida, school districts provide transportation, personnel — such as special education staff — and may provide other services. In addition, charter schools aren’t required to meet the same construction standards as district public schools.

Orlando-based Fund Education Now calls the amendment a money-grab and says they’ll oppose it. Real estate is often a profitable venture for charter school management companies or financiers.

The bill — and amendment — were up for debate at a meeting last week.

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