Sunday, July 05, 2015

Charter School Funding Led to Demand for Sales Tax Increase in St. Johns County: School Board Vice Chair Patrick Canan Blows the Whistle

St. Johns County School Board Vice Chair Patrick Canan​ writes in today's St. Augustine Record that mandatory state funding for charter schools is one of the stressors leading to the demand for a sales tax increase. Supported by right-wingers and developers (and right-wing developers), out-of-control charter schools require stricter scrutiny -- corporations should not be able to give them money and avoid taxes, and they should not be permitted to use public funds for propagandistic indoctrination. See 2011 Miami Herald article, here. Sandra Parks estimates hundreds of millions are taken from public schools each year by private charter school funding using tax credits.

Excerpt from Mr. Canan's column today:
We anticipate a 47 percent increase of students in the next 10 years, requiring up to 20 new schools, but the funding to build a bigger ship has dried up. School board capital outlay millage levying authority was reduced by the Legislature in 2008 from 2.0 to 1.5. The reduction in millage, combined with the dramatic decline in property values due to the recession, caused our school district to suffer a cumulative capital revenue loss of $180 million. The school board cannot increase the millage without legislative authorization from Tallahassee. As the fastest-growing school district in the state, we have advocated in the Legislature to make an exception for high growth school districts to no avail. The millage cap remains the same. In addition, available Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds that once provided significant capital outlay dollars for schools have been dramatically reduced and are now being heavily allocated to charter schools. The message from Tallahassee is simple — this is a local issue and steps need to be taken locally to address the funding shortfall. Click here for full column by Mr. Canan.

NPR investigation of charter schools is here

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