SAFE SCHOOLS RESOURCES, INCREASED STUDENT FUNDING AMONG TOP PRIORITIES FOR FLORIDA’S CHARTER SCHOOL MOVEMENT
Tallahassee, FL – In preparation for the 2019 Florida legislative session, the Florida Charter School Alliance (FCSA) surveyed 400 member charter schools across the state. Member schools range from independent programs to network schools. Their responses were used to develop the FCSA legislative platform that will guide the organization’s advocacy efforts this legislative session, and throughout the year at the school district level.
“Our member schools are most concerned with securing equitable per-student funding, increasing capital outlay, and the expansion of the guardian program to meet safe schools mandates,” explained Lynn Norman-Teck, FCSA Executive Director. “Funding for student mental health services and training programs for educators were also among the top concerns.”
The FCSA legislative priorities are:
- Per Student Funding – Support for fair and equitable funding for all public school students in Florida
- Continued Support for Charter School Capital Outlay
- Expand the availability of the Guardian Program
- Continued funding for student mental health services and training programs for educators
- Expanding opportunities for teacher certification
On a local level, school leaders and governing board members expressed concern with an increase in district reporting directives that often exceed requirements as outlined in state statute, and voter approved tax referendums aimed at giving teacher raises and providing dollars for safety initiatives but that exclude public charter school students and teachers. “We will not only meet with Education committee members but plan to reach out to all the legislators, especially freshman lawmakers, to share data about the positive impact charter schools have made in Florida, especially among minority students,” said Norman-Teck. According to a 2015-2016 Florida Department of Education report, in 65 of the 77 comparisons of charter and district-run schools – students enrolled in charter schools demonstrated higher rates of grade level performance (scoring a level three or above on the statewide assessment); and the percentage of students making learning gains was higher in charter schools in 82 of the 96 comparisons. In 22 separate comparisons, the achievement gap was lower for charter school students in 20 of the comparisons.
Public charter schools have been an integral part of Florida’s K-12 system of public education since 1996. Charter Schools offer an array of educational programs – ranging from urban to rural campuses, from programs specializing in exceptional students or drop-off prevention, to unique classical curriculum, and college-prep programs in high need areas yet all our member schools have a common thread – a steadfast commitment to raising the bar on public education and providing a quality education option to the children and communities they serve. There are more than 297,000 students currently enrolled in a public charter schools in Florida. Charter schools serve a greater percentage of minority students than their district-run counterparts, and have made great academic strides – especially among minority students.
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