On April 8, 2021, Marie-Claire Leman, public school advocate and associate of Fund Education Now testified in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education against the unconstitutional intent of SB 1028. For the fourth time in as many years, Florida politicians seek to strip School Boards of their Constitutional Authority to approve and supervise district Charter Schools. SB 1028, by Sen. Travis Hutson, R, allows any Florida university or college to become an Alternate Charter School Authorizer, empowered to approve and open charters, including corporate chains, anywhere the institution has educational reach. Meaning large universities can open charters all over the state without demonstrating need, further cutting deeply into the K-12 education budget pie, defunding district schools.
Read Marie-Claire Leman’s testimony here:
“This bill is an attempt to do what has been tried many times before: circumventing the constitutional authority of duly elected local school boards.
By placing the charter schools under the authority of political appointees, like the Board of governors, parents will have no recourse to an elected body, neither at the local nor state level, and now, with the funding coming entirely out of the GAA, the taxpayer also has no local oversight over funding of these so-called “public schools”.
Moreover, this bill represents an expansion of entities that are not restricted in the number of schools or classrooms they build; there is no requirement to demonstrate the need for the seats they add to the school system. And this should interest you as an appropriations committee, because in a year where we are having to cut funding across the board, this will cause a net duplication of seats that the State will pay for entirely and cause further instability to the student population and funding in our existing schools.
The fiscal is indeterminate because you don’t know how many charter schools will ultimately be authorized by the Universities, and where they will locate. But the impact to the GAA could be significant. Currently 43% of FEFP funding is from Required Local Effort, some districts generating 90% of the per pupil funding. In those districts, if a student were to transfer to a university authorized charter school the state responsibility would increase from 10% to 100% of the cost of that student. The RLE is in the FEFP to provide equitable funding across districts with dramatically different tax bases. This Bill would break that formula requiring the State to pay 100% for students from the wealthiest districts.”