Worried about ruling
News that the way school districts borrow money for construction could change from a simple board vote to a general referendum is causing great angst among education leaders across Florida.
The top brass of the Florida School Boards Association and the Florida Association of School Administrators hunkered down with lawyers to assess their options yesterday, as the national ratings agencies issued warnings that Florida's school districts' ability to repay more than $12-billion in board-approved certificates of participation might be compromised. (To see the Standard and Poor's alert, click here.)
"Next week when we meet with our superintendents, that's going to be one of the hot topics," John Wiegman (left), deputy director of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, tells the Gradebook.
Pasco County School Board members and administrators fretted over the situation at their Tuesday meeting, too. Vice chairwoman Kathryn Starkey urged her colleagues to join in any effort to ensure that districts like Pasco, which has built 20 schools with COPs, can continue to borrow against future tax revenue rather than have to rely on voters for approval to borrow and build.
"It slows the process down and adds more cost to it," Starkey tells the Gradebook. "When you elect your officials, you elect them to represent you. That's our job to make these decisions."
The issue arises from a Florida Supreme Court ruling out of Escambia County. And it doesn't speak specifically of schools, but rather of borrowing by the Southwest Escambia Improvement District. Still, school leaders expect the ruling could affect the way they do business, so they're digging into it. To see the Orlando Sentinel's most recent story on the subject, click here.