Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a charter-friendly education bill that redirects hundreds of millions of government funded dollars from traditional public schools into the charter school system on June 15th, 2017. The 274-page house bill poses many changes to Florida’s education landscape, spurring enraged school district leaders into protest and receiving applaud from school-choice advocates.

For almost two decades, public charter schools have provided Florida with a high quality academic service for our children between Kindergarten and 12th grade. Charter schools offer Florida’s parents a choice beyond traditional public-school venues without the costly tuition requirements. Recent studies by the Florida Department of Education show that charter school students are outperforming district-run school students by wide margins; Students enrolled in the charter schools show higher grade level performance and increased learning gains. It is empirical evidence that charter schools are raising student achievement and improving success rates throughout Florida.

Lynn Norman-Teck, executive director of The Florida Charter School Alliance (FCSA) says that HB 7069 “recognizes that for far too long there’s been a funding disparity between students who attend a district-run school and those who choose to attend a charter school, and tries to correct that.” The increased portion of funding for charter schools is providing additional construction money, allowing them to open and compete with low-performing public schools. In fact, a controversial provision of the bill encourages charter schools to locate in areas where public school ratings have been persistently low.

Other good provisions are also included in the bill, to name but a few:

  • A mandatory state exam has been eliminated completely. – Algebra II End of Course (EOC) assessment is no longer required for high school graduation. Algebra I however, is still required to receive your diploma.
  • Recess is now guaranteed in all public elementary schools. – A provision hailed by self-dubbed “recess moms” whom say that elementary students with unstructured play have an increased ability to focus.
  • Revised eligibility for Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program. – The bill provides millions of dollars in bonuses for teachers and principals who are rated highly effective during yearly evaluations.
  • The Gardiner Scholarship program. – Students with disabilities now have a voucher program that will provide additional funding for private tuition and other special services they may require.
  • Pushes back testing dates. – The testing schedule has been pushed back to the last four weeks of school giving students and teachers more time to prepare.

The overhaul of the education platform will affect many; there are more than 270,000 students currently enrolled in charter schools in Florida. According to a 2012 Tax Watch Report, “The absence of equitable local funding for both operational and capital purposes creates a significant financial disadvantage for Florida charter schools. Charter schools may receive just 68 to 71 percent of what districts receive per student.” Charter school parents pay into the mileage that districts are trying to keep for themselves and they are ultimately being robbed because the current funding formula less values the charter school children. However, the newly signed bill with renovate this funding formula as it recognizes and addresses the imbalance of the state’s capital funding. On the day that the bill was signed, Lynn Norman-Teck, Executive Director of FCSA concludes that “for two decades, public charter schools have been a vital part of the K-12 public education system in Florida. Yet those schools and the students they served were receiving less than equitable funding. Today’s decision by Governor Scott to sign HB7069 corrects that injustice.”

McCrady Hess, a member of the Grennan Fender CPA Group, has been a leading Orlando CPA and business financial solutions firm for more than 40 years. The firm provides a wide array of innovative services for clients, including tax, audit, consulting, outsourced accounting, cloud accounting and tax planning to meet the needs of Charter Schools throughout Florida and beyond. Contact us online or call us today for a Free Consultation at 407-478-4020 to discuss how we can help you. And know, it’s all about choice, Your Choice. Choose McCrady Hess!