Education

If property tax increase passes, will charter schools get more money? Carvalho answers.

Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman, to the left in a blue jacket, stands in support as Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, center, speaks at an October 2018 press conference at Madie Ives K-8 in North Miami Beach for a property tax referendum benefitting teachers and schools police. Weisman and Carvalho are longtime friends and colleagues. Weisman previously worked as the school district’s human resources chief under Carvalho.
Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman, to the left in a blue jacket, stands in support as Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, center, speaks at an October 2018 press conference at Madie Ives K-8 in North Miami Beach for a property tax referendum benefitting teachers and schools police. Weisman and Carvalho are longtime friends and colleagues. Weisman previously worked as the school district’s human resources chief under Carvalho. cawright@miamiherald.com

After Miami-Dade charter schools posted a critical flier about the school district’s property tax referendum, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced that he will propose sharing funding with charter schools — if the measure passes Nov. 6.

At a press conference Tuesday arranged by Secure Our Future, the political committee promoting the referendum, Carvalho said he would recommend “increased consideration” for sharing already earmarked safety and security funding with charter schools on the basis of passing the referendum. The item would be subject to school board approval.

The money to be shared with charter schools wouldn’t come from the property tax referendum, which is expected to raise $232 million in its first year. The district previously announced that 88 percent of that money, around $200 million, would go to teacher pay and the remaining 12 percent, or around $30 million, would go to staffing and retaining officers for the district’s police force.

Carvalho said the school district does not have the “means or authority” to delegate extra pay for charter school teachers, whose contracts are with each charter school’s governing board, but said that providing safety and security at charter schools is “a moral imperative that transcends governance.”

Teachers, students, and school resource officers react to the new safety measures enforced by the state.

Using the $30 million from the referendum on schools police would free up funding from the state’s safe schools allocation. Miami-Dade received $10 million from that funding source this year, of which $2 million was allocated to charters.

Carvalho would not say how much the district is prepared to share with charter schools, but said it would be a “significantly augmented contribution.”

To ensure the funds would be spent correctly among charter schools, Carvalho said one option would be to make direct payments to each school’s provider of safety and security, whether that’s a security guard company or a municipal police department. A second option would be to create some other accountability measure to check each charter school’s books.

School Board chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman, who was not at the press conference, said she would personally support the measure.

“Anything that is to protect kids, children, no matter where they are, that is something I can always support,” she said. “I just wish we were a little more organized and prepared.”

Florida Charter School Alliance executive director Lynn Norman-Teck welcomed the superintendent’s proposal and said she would share the news with the alliance’s member schools.

“The superintendent has always been supportive of school choice and has even opened up his own charters,” she said. “We look forward to working with him and his team.”

Christopher Norwood, the founder of the nonprofit Florida Association of Independent Public Schools, said he was relieved to hear that smaller schools that don’t get resources from large for-profit management companies could get some help.

“The issue with school security for small independent charter schools has been devastating in the aftermath of the safety act that was passed,” Norwood said, explaining that schools with small enrollments, and therefore less funding, pay as much as $1,500 a week for security to comply with new state law. “These smaller schools are suffering around the state.”

Contact Colleen Wright at 305-376-3003 and @Colleen_Wright.
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