Charter school bills are moving again, at least in the Florida House. The bills are all beginning to look more alike. The charter school amendment to HB 1145, filed this week, dropped the requirement for districts to share public school capital outlay millage with charters. This is good news for financially strapped public schools.
It added a provision stating that charters have a financial audit that does not reveal any of the financial emergency conditions in 218.503(1) for the most recent year. On the surface, this does not sound like a transparency move.
There are some differences in provisions between the House and Senate relating to charter advisory board conflict of interest rules. The Senate bill 1552 looks stronger than the other bills. They just require board members to be identified and two meetings be held in the district. Advisory boards controlled by their management companies cannot be very independent. Details follow.
Charter school legislation in the House and Senate is moving again. Yesterday, a major amendment to HB 1145 was filed by Representative Manny Diaz. This bill incorporates some features in HB 7069 which already passed the House. HB 1145 now includes:
- Personal Learning Accounts for educational s. 1002. 385
- District and school financial reports for parents
- Open enrollment in any school not at capacity
- Educational support for students in hospitals
- FSU Center to assist charter development
- Adjunct staff authorization extended to charter boards
- Financial audit that does not reveal any of the financial emergency conditions 218.503(1) for the most recent year
- School uniform support
- Principal autonomy program and William C Golden Professional Development program
The Senate charter bills are SB 1552 and SB 1448
SB 1552 Student Choice Benacquisto includes many of the same provisions of HB 1145, but it adds conflict of interest language and restricts management company employees from charter advisory boards. The bill has passed the Finance Committee. An analysis of the bill is located here. Senator Legg’s bill, SB 1448 is still active. This bill allows district to approve a charter for 15 years if it is operated by a private, not-for profit management entity. automatic renewal for 15 years if high performing. It has weaker charter board accountability rules than in SB 1552.
Quick summaries of Senate charter bills include:
SB 1448 Legg. Compare to HB 7037, HB 1145, SB 1552.
- Requires district to enroll children to any under enrolled school including charters.
- It adds disclosure requirements for charter operators, board members, management companies and financial history;
- Revises regulations for governing boards;
- Florida Institute for Charter; School Innovation at FSU would be created to: advance accountability and quality and innovation; provide technical assistance for charter applicants; connect teacher programs to charters; conduct research. This provision appears to be an alternate mechanism for authorizing charters. The Florida Schools Excellence Commission was ruled unconstitutional in 2008. Only districts can authorize charters, but this new approach stops just short of authorizing charters. Basically, new charter proposals would be screened by FSU before being presented to districts for approval. The evaluation of charters would be conducted by FSU which also is charged with evaluating the Florida tax credit scholarship program.