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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Charter school funding provision in jeopardy, House leader says



UPDATE: The House passed this bill without adding language about fund sharing.


A hotly debated proposal to force Florida school districts to contribute a share of their funding with charter schools for capital projects is on its last legs, House speaker pro tem John Legg tells the Gradebook.

Although the concept has flown through the Senate, Legg said, its has run into resistance that is unlikely to ease in the House. The critical hurdle is class size compliance.

Because charter schools did not receive funding for construction during the state's Classrooms for Kids program, which specifically targeted class size reduction, lawmakers did not require charters to meet the final class-by-class phase of the 2002 amendment. If charters were now to get a dedicated source of construction funding, Legg said, many key House leaders including Reps. Bill Proctor, Marti Coley and Kelli Stargel want to see the charters also comply with the class size rules.

Many charter operators are balking at the thought of it. "They're still working the halls," Legg said, adding that the House leaders are fairly immovable on the point.

If there's not a break in the standoff Friday, he suggested, it's probably not coming.

How dead is the idea? The Florida Times-Union reports that Coley, the House education budget chairwoman, has already floated the idea of creating a task force to look for future ways to possibly have charters share in the money.

Meanwhile, the bill, which heads to the House floor on Friday, faces a new and unrelated criticism. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Democrats have complained the measure would exempt charter schools from giving merit pay to teachers, as required by the controversial 2011 legislation that overhauled teacher evaluations, pay and contracts. 

Dems didn't back that bill, but they argue that if it's law, it should apply to all. Sponsor Rep. Janet Adkins told the Sentinel she will file an amendment to fix the situation. Stay tuned. 

[Last modified: Friday, March 2, 2012 11:14am]


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