Letter to the editor – Miami Herald 12/14/15
On behalf of the quarter million students currently attending charter schools in Florida, I am responding to Florida gave about $70 million to charter schools that later closed in an effort to have their story told accurately.
The article incorrectly states “public school districts got no capital money in the previous three years.” District public schools get state capital outlay, local millage dollars, and can use Certificates of Participation or added millage allocation approved by voters to raise revenue for capital costs, major construction, maintenance or operational projects. According to the Department of Education, in 2014-15, districts received $2,405,019,300 for capital projects; charter schools received $75,000,000.
Charter schools provide students with a safe learning environment. Without capital funding, charter schools would be forced to tap into operation dollars — that pay for teacher salaries and classroom needs — to pay for facilities. Public charter schools have been providing a quality education option to students in Florida for close to 20 years – making positive academic gains, helping close the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students, and growing due to parents support. Any notion that funds were lost is a misunderstanding of the intended use of the Charter School Capital Outlay (CSCO) funds. Every year, CSCO funds are allocated to eligible charter schools, and those schools educate its students for that school year. While CSCO declines, parental demand for charter schools continues to increase. Charter schools now serve over 250,000 students (with an estimated 100,000 wait lists) and will receive just $200 per student. That’s $50 million in CSCO distributed among all the eligible schools that have been in operation for three years and are accredited. This is the only facility funding charter schools get.
The article is an attempt to support a further increase of the inequity in public education funding, and hurt parents who support choice, and the students who choose to attend a charter school.