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Charter School Bill Passes House Without Construction Funds

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Legislative Session Coverage

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The Florida House has approved a controversial Charter School bill after stripping a provision that would have raided the building funds of school districts to help par for charter school expansion, a move superintendents called a potential disaster.

The bill passed 86-30.

The bill would loosen how closely charter schools have to follow the teacher pay-for-performance law approved last year and would make other changes to funding and accountability for the charters.

It would also lay out a process for re-evaluating “high performance” charter schools to make sure they’re still entitled to the designation.

Even without the construction provision, which has repeatedly run into resistance in the House, the bill came under fire for creating what critics said was an uneven playing field for the charters.

“What is it that we’re running from?” asked Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami. “If we agree that they are, in fact, public schools, why not hold them to the same standards?”

There is also a version of the bill in the Senate, and while it still contains the provision to fund construction, it is stalled.

Sen. Steve Wise, the Jacksonville Republican who sponsored the bill, said he has asked Senate leaders to withdraw the bill from its last stop in the Senate Budget Committee so that the bill could be taken up on the floor.

Wise said he was still confident the bill could pass the Senate and set up discussions with the House.

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