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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

House bill would ease path for out-of-state charter schools to open in Florida



Model contracts and shared facilities dominated discussion of a proposed new charter school bill (go to p. 57 of the packet) in the House Choice and Innovation subcommitee Thursday.

Tucked into the end of the 29-page draft is a single paragraph that could open Florida's doors to more out-of-state charter operators seeking a foothold here. It would offer those charter groups the opportunity to apply for "high performing" status in the state, and then give them the perks that go along with the designation.

Those include having contracts of up to 15 years, increasing enrollment by 15 percent above capacity annually, and opening "replicated" new schools in the state with minimal restrictions.

The bill states: "An entity that successfully operates a system of charter schools outside the state may apply to the State Board of Education for status as a high-performing charter school system solely for the purpose of establishing a charter school that primarily serves students in the attendance zone of a school identified in need of intervention and support." The SBOE would set the rules and requirements.

Bill sponsor Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, said it seemed only fair to recognize the strong performance of charter schools in other places.

"We're opening it up for those companies," he said. "Those schools that may be performing in other states can bring their resume to Florida and apply to get credit for that."

School district officials around the state have raised concerns about several issues addressed in the bill, including their ability to govern "high performing" charters. Debate over the provisions is likely to be heated during the coming session.

[Last modified: Friday, January 10, 2014 9:08am]


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