The Florida Legislature has made a dynamic shift and passed committee proposals supporting charter schools that serve the poor and disabled.
Educating students of special populations is a challenge for both public and charter schools. The allocation of operational funds to assist in accelerating the learning of these students is critical, as is offsetting capital expenses for the survival of charter schools as their educational performance is graded and failure can close their doors.
We applaud Chairman Don Gaetz and Sen. Bill Montford in the Senate as well as Chairman Richard Corcoran and Rep. Manny Diaz in the House.
The Senate proposal is the most desirable because it provides 25 percent more funding for schools that have 75 percent free and reduced lunch students, and 25 percent more funding for schools that serve large numbers of special needs children.
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It also prohibits capital dollars to lease from any “affiliated” entity.
This prevents what Gaetz calls “a real estate scheme,” in which developers tied to charter school companies build facilities and the school then leases the building from that group.
This policy shift is welcomed. We serve poor communities despite the threat of closure and the increased cost to educate.
As penned in our Sept. 23, 2015 OpEd, Support independent charter schools, don't strangle them, the first Florida Charter School began in Liberty City for a reason. But 20 years later there’s still only one charter school in Liberty City. This isn’t progress. We’ve lost our focus.
Providing the less fortunate with educational options was paramount and above politics 20 years ago when Gov. Lawton Chiles signed into law the first charter school bill.
Christopher Norwood, president and founder, Florida Association of Independent Public Schools,