Rick Scott created the slippery slope education funding when he cut education funding during his first term. Now he’s having to navigate it during a year he has to face voters. Let’s consider his tricky wording which justifies giving more than half of PECO funds to charter schools. Writes James Call in the Florida Current:
A long simmering dispute buried within Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed education budget that involves Public Education Capital Outlay dollars and charter schools boiled over a bit on Wednesday.
The spending plan would direct 53 percent of state PECO money to the 350 charter schools in Florida, leaving the rest to be spread among Florida’s 67 school districts with about 3,500 schools…..
(Scott’s policy coordinator Kim) McDougal said a charter must meet four requirements to get state construction money.
“Number one, a charter school must be graded. Number two, they must have a surety bond. Number three, they have to be accredited, and number four they have to be open in a place where it is needed,” McDougal said. “He (Scott) recommended it last year and he’s recommending it this year.”
Who determines whether charter schools “be open in a place where it is needed?” Local elected school boards no longer have the say as it’s been passed on to political appointees on the state board of education. They’ve consistently demonstrated that they will rule on behalf of charter schools when they appeal a local board’s decision.
McDougal is advancing a false regulation that really doesn’t exist. Rep. Karen Castor Dentel (D-Maitland) obviously isn’t buying:
Afterward, Castor Dentel said she didn’t get the answer she wanted.
“There are qualifications for receiving the PECO funds but not the qualification that I think is important – which is, those school buildings should remain open to the public,” Castor Dentel said. “Public money goes to these school buildings to be community assets. We should not have something so lopsided, $80 million for 3,500 schools and $90 million for 300.”
PECO’s cash bonanza for state charter schools is nothing new. Call writes that, “last year, charters received $91 million while school districts split $6 million with another $14 million going toward special facility construction projects in rural counties unable to raise additional money. In 2011 and 2012, charters received $55 million each year while school districts received no state PECO dollars.”
McDougal characterization of Scott’s education budget proposal as “historic” is election year sloganeering and can be easily dispatched. But Scott’s goal is to get through the legislative session without a lot of drama. Good for Castor Dentel for calling him on it.