Scott Joins Rally Backing Charter School Construction

By: Jim Turner | Posted: February 22, 2012 4:30 PM
Amid a sea of students in yellow shirts, Gov. Rick Scott pushed legislators to advance bills on Wednesday that would require county school districts to loosen their tight grasp on construction money needed to build charter schools.

“You know that the future of our state is 100 percent tied to your education. If you don’t get a great education there are not going to be any jobs,” Scott said during the 2012 School Choice Rally in the Capitol Courtyard.

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“Why would companies want to build their businesses here in Florida if we don’t have a great education system?”

Scott's goal -- and that of legislators and charter-school backers speaking at the rally -- is to advance SB 1852 and HB 903, which are follow-ups to the 2011 virtual charter school and high-performing charter school bills.

Both bills have stalled before legislators as districts fight for approximately $140 million of the $1.9 billion in taxpayer money that the districts are required to share.

School districts have lobbied against the bills, arguing they would divert up to $65 million a year from public schools to charter schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties alone.

Read more here.

SB 1852 retains the call for charter schools to be able to access construction money. 

However, the House Pre-K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee last week rejected, in a 7-7 vote, language to allow charter schools to tap local education construction money on a per-student basis. Instead, the committee voted 11-3 to impose additional accountability requirements on charter schools while allowing state colleges to create charter campuses.

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Charter-school backers are undeterred.

“We need districts to follow the law,” said Cheri Shannon, president of the Florida Charter School Alliance. 

Shannon said the districts have set up roadblocks to allowing charter schools to offer parents a choice from the public education path.

She said of 53 charter-school applications that were submitted in the past year, school districts across Florida have approved three.

Scott encouraged the students, from charter schools in the Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee areas, to visit their local legislator’s office while in the Capitol “and tell them how much you care about school choice and care about putting $1 billion more into education.”

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

Comments (2)

Tired of the politics with educational funding
6:13PM MAR 2ND 2012
The school districts around the state who approve one charter school out 52 applications must recieve a message from the governor that their funding will be cut even more, when the districts decide the fate of the applicant. No approved charters, No additional funding for the administrators to pad their pockets, while laying off teachers.
Marla A. Rios
8:51PM FEB 25TH 2012
For those of us who have children attending Charter Schools it is essential to have SB 1852 and HB 903 bills passed. Charter Schools have the same rights and needs as public schools.

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