Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Charter schools should get tax money for maintenance costs, Senate panel says

TALLAHASSEE — The charter school movement flexed its legislative muscle Monday, taking a big step toward winning more funding from the state.

After an hour of intense debate, the Senate Education Committee approved a controversial bill requiring local school districts to share their construction and maintenance money with charter schools.

Under current law, only traditional public schools can levy property taxes for building and maintenance. Charter schools — which receive tax dollars, but are run by independent governing boards — cannot.

Florida school districts fought hard to defeat the bill, saying it would all but kill their ability to pay down debt on existing construction projects. Parent groups chimed in, too, saying public dollars should not go to charter school facilities, which are often owned by private companies and are not part of the public domain.

Broward County schools lobbyist Georgia Slack called the bill "a disaster to our capital outlay program."

"This will cost us $20 million" a year, Slack said. "We don't have it."

Sen. Bill Montford, the lone Democrat on the committee with fellow Democratic Sen. Larcenia Bullard excused, filed 13 amendments to the bill. But only one was heard because committee members limited debate to one hour.

That amendment, which would have allowed traditional public schools to keep the construction and maintenance dollars, failed.

The overall bill passed 5-1.

"If this bill is passed (without amendments), this will result in an increase of financial stress on our school districts' debt burden," said Montford, who is also the chief executive officer of the Florida Associations of District School Superintendents.

Montford noted that charter schools received $55 million from the state's Public Education Capital Outlay fund last year, while traditional public schools received nothing.

Last week, the House removed the provision about sharing construction and maintenance money from its bill.

Charter schools should get tax money for maintenance costs, Senate panel says 02/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 7:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pasco deputies: Wife set estranged husband's bed on fire with him in it


    NEW PORT RICHEY — James Brennan Jr. woke early in the morning Thursday to find the foot of his bed in flames.

    Eva Brennan [Photo Courtesy of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  2. 20 great images from around the globe for July 21 to July 28


    Photos of the week for July 21 - July 28: A child bidding farewell to a beloved manatee, racers competing at the Brickyard 400 and the Tour de France, migrants desperately fighting for their lives in the Mediterranean and migrants tragically losing their lives in San Antonio, an athlete and an adorable little kid, a …

    Incoming White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, right, blowing a kiss after answering questions during the press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
  3. Rubio, Nelson look on as McCain delivers blow on health care


    Watch the dramatic moment when Sen. John McCain strides into the chamber and delivers the blow.

  4. Video: Officer told Venus Williams she caused fatal crash (w/video)


    FORT LAUDERDALE — Video shows a police officer told tennis start Venus Williams she likely caused a crash that fatally injured an elderly man but didn't cite her, saying it appeared the actions of a third driver left her in a bad spot.

    In this Jan. 28 file photo, Venus Williams answers questions at a press conference at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. [AP photo]
  5. Florida 'Dreamers' worry Obama-era protection will disappear


    Andrea Seabra imagined the worst if Donald Trump won: "I thought on the first day he would say, 'DACA is done' and send immigration officers to every house."

    Mariana Sanchez Ramirez, 23, poses on the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida.