The Broward County School Board has voted to sue the state of Florida over a new law that requires public school districts to share property tax revenue with charter schools and relinquishes their authority to approve charter applications.
The school board was the first to take action, but other districts are holding similar meetings within the next two weeks, said District legal counsel Barbara Myrick. Miami-Dade, Orange, and Pinellas counties are among the others that may collaborate in the case.
The school board agreed to spend $25,000 towards a lawsuit that will argue several components of the law are unconstitutional. The law, signed by Governor Rick Scott on June 15, enacts measures ranging from recess requirements to additional funding for scholarships for children with disabilities. It also steers millions of dollars to charter school operators, by making districts share property tax revenue and setting up a fund for a program called “Schools of Hope.”
Under the law, charter operators will be able to access $140 million to open schools in areas where elementary and middle schools have been rated D or F for at least three years in a row.
The charters wouldn’t have to adhere to the same rules that district schools do, including class size and teacher certification rules.
Board member Donna Korn said the law should allow district schools the same flexibility as charters, and another member, Rosalind Osgood referred to the law as “strong-arm robbery.”
The district would lose at least $100 million in capital funds over the next five years and possibly owe tens of millions more in debt service because bond ratings are likely to get downgraded, district staff said.
Broward District Superintendent Robert Runcie has long pointed out that funding per student in Florida lags thousands of dollars behind the national average.
Proponents have hailed the law’s focus on school choice as a gift for parents to make the best decisions for their children.
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran said the program would help students who have been left to “languish in chronically under-performing schools.”
He and other Republican legislators said those campaigning against the bill are interested in preserving the status quo, not providing reforms to help students, parents’ concerns and offer good teachers higher salaries.
Copyright 2017 – Caribbean National Weekly News