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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Op-ed: Vouchers not hurting Florida public schools financially



Yes, we know, we've reported on that argument before. But former St. Petersburg Times editorial writer Jon East, now communications director for Step Up For Students, lays it out better than anyone in this recent essay for Florida TaxWatch. Considering that voucher supporters will push for another expansion during this year's legislative session, we thought you'd like to hear it.

East notes that the cost of a tax-credit voucher ($3,950) is roughly a third of total per-pupil cost. Then he takes on the argument that vouchers will still hurt schools financially because schools are still stuck with fixed costs:

The expressed concern is one of fixed costs - that as one students leaves one public school classroom to attend a scholarship school, the public school still has to pay the teacher and keep the lights turned on. But that hypothetical lost student is just as likely, given the constitutional requirement limiting each class size, to help the school budget as to hurt it. More to the point, it is nearly impossible to parse such a claim. Individual classroom enrollments change for a myriad of reasons - families who move, students who drop out, school zones that change, students who leave for magnet or fundamental or career schools, or online courses, or special academic programs offered elsewhere.

A 2009 Palm Beach district analysis of declining enrollment at Royal Palm Beach High School, for example, revealed 1,051 zoned students were attending other district schools through choice options. Charter schools, as one example, currently redirect more than four times as many students as Tax Credit Scholarships.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:49am]


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