(Updated March 10, 2018) – Tallahassee, FL – For the past few weeks, legislators have been busy discussing school safety proposals and negotiating the state budget in an effort to wrap everything up before the end of the 2018 Legislative session.
Below highlights from HB 7055, a student-centered legislation that passed both the Senate and House and was signed by Governor Scott on March 11.
- Increases the number of times a high-performing charter school can replicate each year from one to two.
- Requires school boards to go before the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings before voting to close a charter school they authorize.
- Increases the amount of time a new charter school may defer its initial opening from two to three years — allowing time to find the right location or finalize construction.
- Requires school districts to make surplus tangible property available to charter schools on the same basis as other public schools in the district.
- Applications for a new charter school received in February can still open the coming fall.
- High performing status language has been updated: “Received at least two school grades of “A” and no school grade below “B,” pursuant to s. 1008.34, during each of the previous 3 school years or received at least two consecutive school grades of “A” in the most recent 2 school years.”
- Updated language for increased student enrollment at a high-performing charter school:
“A high-performing charter school is authorized to: Increase its student enrollment once per school year to more than the capacity identified in the charter, but student enrollment may not exceed the current facility capacity of the facility at the time the enrollment increase will take effect.”
- Non-renewal or termination by a district must be based on clear and convincing evidence – including material violation of law.
- Language regarding the consolidation of multiple charters into a single charter has been added to charter school statute: “A charter school that is not subject to a school improvement plan and that closes as part of a consolidation shall be reported by the school district as a consolidation.”
- The initial term of a charter shall be for 5 years, excluding 2 planning years.
- Changes regarding Capital Outlay:
Beginning in 2018-19, districts will not have to share local millage funds – charter school capital outlay will come from a state allocation (The House is seeking a $120 million capital outlay allocation for charter schools).
If the $120 million capital outlay budget allocation is approved by the Senate and House, the first $500 per FTE of charter school facilities funding will come from the state (in the 2018-19 school year). This would eliminate the need for districts to share local mileage with the charter schools they authorize.
This allocation would equate to about $456 per student ($456 is about what a charter school in Miami-Dade County received this year as a combination of state and local mileage funds.
This $456 per student capital outlay allocation becomes the base capital outlay funding moving forward so charters must receive this amount per student plus CPI.
In 2019-20 and beyond, if the state does not fund charter school capital outlay at $456 + CPI per student, then the districts must provide the difference using local mileage.
“We want to thank the courageous leadership of both the Senate and House for putting students first, and protecting school choice in the state of Florida,” says Ralph Arza, FCSA’s Director of Governmental Affairs. “While maintaining transparency and accountability measures for charter schools, lawmakers were able to address inequities in per student funding and update rules to help charter schools better serve the families and more than 280,000 students that depend on them.”
Click here to read the full text of HB7055.