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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Rep. Fresen unconvinced by Florida superintendents on school construction costs



Florida House Education Appropriations chairman Rep. Erik Fresen on Friday responded with disdain to superintendents' recent criticism of his views on school construction spending.

Fresen had accused districts of grossly overspending state mandated costs per student station, an allegation that superintendents strongly denied. They argued the chairman blatantly misrepresented their activities, and suggested he was making districts look bad to justify a shift in capital improvement tax revenue.

On Friday, Fresen called the superintendents' assertions "inaccurate," and criticized them for spreading "incorrect information" rather than speaking to him directly with their concerns.

He defended his presentation and wrote that the superintendents did nothing to change his view that overspending was rampant.

"In the 10 years of data that I looked through," Fresen wrote, "some of the most egregious overages in construction costs were during the greatest recession, when construction costs and wages were at their lowest."

In fact, he stated, the school leaders' reaction convinced him to press forward with his plans. 

"Ultimately, laws are in place for a reason and those laws are expected to be adhered to by all Florida citizens," Fresen wrote. "Based on the finding in the data submitted by the school districts, I plan to file an amendment to address the overspending of school districts on school facilities. My amendment will address the inflated statutory costs per student station and will also ensure that facility costs and caps are not merely a suggestion but are enforceable and adhered to."

Read his full letter to the Florida Association of District School Superintendents for more details.

[Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2016 1:30pm]


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