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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Hot button charter, voucher issues back on tap in Florida House today



Funding for charter schools and vouchers come up for another round of consideration at 2 p.m. when the Florida House Education Committee convenes for what is supposed to be its last meeting of the 2012 session.

Watch Rep. Janet Adkins push yet again to force school districts to contribute a portion of their revenue for capital projects to charter schools -- an item that was removed from her bill in its first committee stop and rejected as an amendment in the next one. Her amendment this time would have districts provide a "stipend" from "any available revenue source at the district's discretion."

It's not quite what the Senate has supported -- a share of each district's capital projects property tax revenue -- but it at least would keep the door open for continued negotiations.

Before that item comes up on the agenda, though, is an equally contentious measure that would boost the funding for Florida's corporate tax credit scholarship program for low-income children, commonly referred to as the state's voucher program. Sponsor Rep. Richard Corcoran has opened the door to using the FCAT to measure the academic performance of students receiving these scholarships -- something almost unheard of in past sessions despite calls for such testing by voucher critics.

That proposal somewhat surprisingly drew criticism from Democrats who don't support the tax credit program as is, but also have no stomach for expanding FCAT testing.

Democrat Rep. Dwight Bullard has put forth an amendment to the bill, in which donors could receive tax credits for contributing to the public school system as well as to the scholarship funding organization. Is there a possible tradeoff in the works?

The Senate's version of this bill differs from the House, as well. It has not passed out of its final committee stop, Budget, and is not on Tuesday's agenda.

Stay tuned, or tune in on the House broadcast website. The session begins at 2 p.m.

[Last modified: Monday, February 27, 2012 11:42am]


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