The Duval County school district will be giving $3.8 million to the county’s charter schools by the end of this month, district staff told board members Tuesday.
The revenue-sharing is a new state requirement, coming out of an education law known as House Bill 7069.
Florida school districts pay for most building and maintenance projects with local taxes, called capital outlay dollars.
Although Duval is taxing the maximum allowed under a state cap, getting around $92 million this year, its schools have a maintenance backlog totaling $128 million, and more than $30 million goes to debt payments. The district has said about 60 percent of Duval’s schools are 50 years or older.
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Under a new state education law, the district now has to share some tax dollars with charters. Some board members, like Becki Couch, say that’s not fair to traditional schools, which face more spending restrictions and must have 10-year and five-year spending plans approved by the state.
“[Charters] don’t have to submit plans to the state that show that there’s actually a need to use those dollars,” Couch said. “We have to still do that.”
Although district staff confirmed charters do have to tell the state how they spent the money, Board Chair Paula Wright said “it’s discouraging there’s no upfront accountability.”
Duval and more than a dozen other Florida districts are suing over having to share capital funding with privately run charters. Superintendent Patricia Willis said the district is closely watching how those challenges could impact Duval.
“There’s just not enough clarity around it or if there may be some changes due to what happens with House Bill 7069,” she said.
And another wrinkle: the district never collects 100 percent of taxes owed. District staff and its lawyer said they’re looking into how to get money back to reflect the difference.
Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at email@example.com, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride.