A letter from FCSA Executive Director, Lynn Norman-Teck – February 22, 2016
It was refreshing to see the recent PolitiFact Florida story related to capital funding for district-run public schools and public charter schools.
In case you missed the analysis, PolitiFact found, after reviewing actual data, that district-run public schools get much more capital funding per student than do public charter schools. In fact, their analysis of data from the Florida Department of Education and Florida Department of Revenue found that district-run public schools receive, on average, six times more capital funding per student than do public charter schools.
Some might be surprised to learn this fact. After all, almost every press story or quote by a district school board member, Superintendent or union representative claims that charter schools receive all the capital funding and districts are left with, as John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times said, “a pat on the head.” In reality, that “pat on the head” was worth about $3.2 billion last year.
Of course, as was reported by PolitiFact, not every district receives six times more capital funding than public charter schools. As is the case with statewide averages, there is variation across the districts.
Orange County is a great example. The Orange County School District does not receive six times more capital funding than its public charter schools- it’s more like 12 times. Between the local ad valorem tax, a local sales tax, impact fees and Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO), Orange County School District will receive approximately $435 million in capital funding this year. That equates to about $2,400 per student.
District-managed schools in Pinellas and Pasco receive about five times more capital funding than public charter schools, while it’s about four times more in Hillsborough and Polk, and nine times more in Manatee. These are tax dollars that all residents contribute, including the families of the almost 60,000 students who choose to attend public charter schools in those districts.
District-run public schools will receive more than $3 billion dollars in capital funding this year, averaging about $1,300 per student. At the same time, public charter schools will receive about $200 per student. It is long past time to fix this gross inequity and provide our public charter schools with predictable and equitable capital funding.
HB 873, recently passed by the Florida House, would enforce more equitable sharing of capital funding between district-run public schools and public charter schools. The Florida Charter School Alliance, a non-profit group of educators, community leaders, and philanthropists, applauds the Florida House for recognizing the wisdom of this bill, and encourages passage by the Florida Senate.