Why is the clenched tooth coming from Lee County School District parents, educators, and administrators? It’s due to the signing of Florida House Bill 7069, which became law Saturday.
For the first time in the latest records, our district fought for a veto of this bill, which dismally fails public education in the state of Florida. Our outcry had not anything to do with being an anti-constitution school. The fact is, we want our charter schools. Many of them do splendid matters, and we, as a Board, work thoroughly with them.
Our problem with this new law is the fast time period impact it has on making plans and budgeting for the 2017-18 faculty year and the lengthy-time period hazard it poses to public schooling funding and nearby management.
A requirement to share production cash with constitutional colleges.
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Just one month before our district needed to finalize the overall budget and months when we completed our 5 12 months capital plan, HB 7069 reduces our capital finances by about $forty-five million over the next five years.
State regulation allowed us to levy up to $2 for every $1,000 in taxable belongings to elevate finances for production and maintenance. In Lee County, that tax raises about $116 million greenbacks a year. That turned into reducing to $1.50 at some stage in the recession with promises to repair – a promise by no means fulfilled.
We are actually required to offer a proportion of those taxpayer bucks to for-profit constitution management corporations. The cause is for them to apply the one’s bucks for capital projects. However, there’s no language inside the bill that guarantees that. And even supposing they do, the cash is being positioned into homes the general public will not personal, nor can they be used to house traditional faculties, must the charter close. In addition, these capital price ranges may be allotted on an in keeping with pupil basis, without the attention of wants, which means corporations that might not need the cash for these types of initiatives would get it besides.
As a district, we can not have the funds to lose capital funding, mainly when, according to scholar populace boom projections, our district will need to construct 9 extra schools in 5 years to house the scholars we have now, and then about 1, six hundred additional students moving here every 12 months.
Schools of Hope
By developing “Schools of Hope” and funding them with $a hundred and forty million, the kingdom diverts education greenbacks to out-of-country constitution operators to benefit unique scholar populations. These bucks cross unequaled for public faculties with those identical populations. This creates unfair opposition, no longer to mention comparative measures of student fulfillment will now not accurately mirror nearby taxpayers’ return on funding in public schooling.
Loss of local manage over Federal Title 1 funds
Title 1 is a federal training supply supposed to be used as supplemental funding for colleges with high possibilities of youngsters from low-income families. Those greenbacks assist make certain that each one youngster meets tough kingdom instructional requirements.
HB 7069 eliminates neighborhood manipulation over the use of the budget with the aid of requiring they be dispensed immediately to colleges on an inline with scholar basis. While that might sound like a terrific concept in concept, this can negatively affect our students because the District will no longer have the capability to make decisions based totally on a evaluation of information and wishes evaluation. More schools might be served with an equal amount of price range on the way to dilute offerings to the best poverty and neediest of schools. Districts might be unable to target budget for services that meet the specific wishes of students and could not be capable of allocating that cash for packages that demonstrably improve student outcomes. One of those applications is our fifth Quarter which prevents summertime from getting to know loss and allows college students to retain their schooling thru the summer season months, so they’re equipped for the next grade. Another is our Teacher Leader program. These instructors are excellent the pleasant. They work collaboratively with principals and fellow teachers to construct a potential to increase student achievement. Losing the dollars that fund those programs at a district degree may be unfavorable to all students.
Teacher bonuses vs. Teacher pay
HB 7069 provides extra cash for teacher bonuses. Again, whilst this seems like a good idea on the floor, these bonuses are based on information dating to successful coaching and gaining knowledge.
For instance, a trainer can get a bonus if his or her ACT or SAT rankings are excessive. For many, those ratings are a long time old. In addition, those bonuses could be given handiest if the bucks are to be had. This is poor exercise and an unacceptable precedent. We might be higher off if the country honestly gave that money immediately to our district for repayment functions, making sure that we meet the desires of our neighborhood instructors.
Lack of legislative transparency
For the second yr in a row, the Florida Legislature clumped a couple of schooling proposals in an unmarried invoice.
This yr, HB 7069 blended payments, several which had been no longer heard in committee, some of which failed in committee, and some of which had no input in any way from educators or residents into large rules. The overwhelming wide variety of non-price range related directives in this piece of legislation, compiled without input from school forums and different groups invested in public education, is unacceptable. Sadly it’s miles turning into House exercise and violates the middle price of transparency as set up inside the “Florida’s Government in the Sunshine.”
The playing discipline is now choppy by creating one-of-a-kind running and capital parameters for charter and conventional public schools. Charters can now function underneath one-of-a-kind pointers for college construction, lecture room capacity, use of school time, even selecting whether or no longer to permit recess. Accountability for effective use of taxpayer bucks is compromised, while systems that are accepted to function differently are measured in the same way.
The backside line, HB 7069, threatens local operational, administrative, and organizational controls over the green and effective use of taxpayer greenbacks. Ultimately, it’s going to harm our college students, our personnel, and our network. None of those companies can thrive without a sturdy public, academic machine.
Over the following couple of months, we will paintings on a legislative platform to defend our college students, ensure our college district’s priorities are heard, and fight in opposition to this attack on public training.