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Fla. Charter Schools Could Get Tax Money To Build Under Senate Plan

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(Source: AP/Brian Bohannon)

(Source: AP/Brian Bohannon)

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Legislative Session Coverage

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – A bill that would require school districts to give tax money raised by property assessments to charter schools to pay for construction costs, and allow high-performing schools to create up to 3 schools a year moved up in the Senate Monday.

The measure (SB 1852) passed 5-1 along party lines, following an identical vote to shoot down an amendment aimed at stripping the construction provision from the bill.

Supporters said it would create more parity between charter schools and other public schools. Opponents slammed the measure for providing tax dollars to the private operators of charter schools, despite the fact that supporters of charter legislation said years ago that they would not ask for money to build schools.

“This legislation is a plan to give public tax dollars away to for-profit corporations to buy assets that the public will never own,” said Kathleen Oropeza of the advocacy group Fund Education Now.

In all, the millage used to support capital costs in 40 school districts raises about $1.9 billion a year. School districts argued that much of the money had already been dedicated to fund borrowing for existing projects and some of the funds paid for maintenance.

“We are not anti-charter school,” said Georgia Slack, a lobbyist for Broward County schools. “We are pro-trying to keep our buildings and our facilities from becoming disreputable parts of neighborhoods.”

“There will be another stop,” said Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, the lone Democrat to attend Monday’s meeting.. “We’ll have plenty of time to continue the discussion.”

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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