Proposal to penalize noncompliant districts stalled
A proposal to penalize noncompliant school districts by forcing them to increase local taxes to make up for reduced state funding was stalled today in the Senate preK-12 appropriations committee after several committee members and public speakers raised concerns.
The proposal is meant to address districts that don’t comply with the class size amendment, follow rules for differentiated teacher pay, properly classify students for funding purposes or appropriately use capital funding.
Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Sarasota, wanted to know if there was a provision for an “honest mistake” by a school district. Others wondered about a constitutional issue in ordering districts to raise taxes. Others were simply concerned about penalizing taxpayers for something they didn’t do.
Wayne Blanton, executive director of the School Boards Association, objected to turning the commissioner of education into a “tax czar” and said: “I think this is a solution looking for a problem. And I don’t think we need this. Period.” He asked the panel to explore other ways to work with the districts on compliance, be it fines or something else.
Sen. Rudy Garcia, R-Hialeah, told chairman Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, that the “idea probably needs a little more time in the kitchen” and asked if it could be set aside for further consideration.
Wise said the idea was to get school districts to “follow just a minor thing called a law,” but then temporarily postponed the bill and said, “I’ve got the message.”