Despite getting calls and emails from parents and school leaders, and hearing heartfelt messages at the July 18 board meeting, Palm Beach County School Board members voted 7-0 to exclude public charter school students and teachers from a proposed tax referendum.
On August 14, the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners will decide whether or not to put the referendum on the November ballot.
Palm Beach County, FL – Thursday, July 19, 2018 – For the past few weeks, the Florida Charter School Alliance (FCSA) has been fighting for students and teachers, and our member schools, in Palm Beach County.
FCSA’s Director of Governmental Affairs, Ralph Arza, has been meeting with Palm Beach board members and Superintendent Dr. Fennoy to discuss a proposed tax referendum to fund teacher raises and security initiatives at “non-charter district schools.” At meetings and in a FCSA Letter to PBC Board, Arza urged the board members and Superintendent to remove the language that excludes 20,000 students and their teachers from the proposed referendum, and include all public school students and teachers in the funding formula. He also shared results from a survey we conducted that shows that 58% voters want all teachers and students included in the distribution of funds.
Hundreds of FCSA member school principals, parents, and governing board members contacted Palm Beach School Board members about this issue. However, based on pre-meeting conversations Arza had with board members, the FCSA team knew going into the July 18th meeting that the board would move forward with a plan to exclude charter school students and teachers from the funding formula. Still, the FCSA team and member schools felt it necessary to put our voice on the record and oppose the district’s plan.
“We want to thank the hundreds of FCSA members that called the Palm Beach School Board and those who made it to the meeting on July 18,” said Lynn Norman-Teck, FCSA Executive Director and charter school parent. “We also want to thanks those who signed up to speak up for their community, their students and teachers and for the incredible support we received from our community partners, including the Florida Parent Network. Unfortunately, messages of inclusion delivered by constituents, and Palm Beach tax payers, fell on deaf ears.”
At the board meeting on July 18, Superintendent Fennoy, at the recommendation of the board, presented a recommendation that students and teachers at charter schools not receive a penny from the special tax. The board unanimously approved the proposal 7-0 even after listening to heartfelt testimony from parents, teachers, principals and governing board members representing public charter schools throughout the county.
On August 14, the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners will discuss the tax referendum and vote on whether or not to put the referendum on the November 2018 ballot. If approved by voters, the tax increase would raise the amount collected countywide from roughly $50 million this year to the estimated $200 million next year. However, revenue from the tax paid by residents, including public charter school parents and teachers, would not reach the 20,000 public charter school students and their teachers.
To watch video clips of the pro-school choice speakers at the July 18 school board meeting, listed below, please click here.
Malron Font, charter school parent, BridgePrep
Linda Terranova, founding principal of Western Academy
Tom Sutterfield, charter school governing board member, Glades Academy and Imagine Boynton
Andy Binns, charter school governing board member – Palm Beach Maritime
Ms. Hughes, charter school parent and teacher, BridgePrep
LanaAnn March, charter school parent, Renaissance (read her piece in the Palm Beach Post here).
The FCSA team will continue to fight for our member schools and the families they serve. “We will be meeting with our members and legal counsel in the coming days to determine our next steps,” said Ralph Arza. “One ideas we’ve put forth to the Palm Beach School Board is to find a way to fund security, mental health, and police presence through other sources. Member schools who want to be part of the discussions with the Palm Beach School Board should contact me.” Ralph Arza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 561-899-2035.
Click here to watch the July 18th Palm Beach County School Board Meeting.
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