Florida’s charter industry has received over $700 million in state tax dollars for facilities and capital expenses since 2000. The Associated Press analysis reveals that closed charters received over $70 million since 2000 just for their buildings. The money spent on closed charter facilities is lost. The facilities are owned privately.
Many small private operators rely on state capital outlay dollars that they receive in addition to the per student funding that both public and charter schools receive for operating schools. These funds, often called PECO (Public Education Capital Outlay) used to go to traditional public schools for renovation and maintenance. For the last several years, the legislature designated most of the PECO funds to charter schools. Districts feel the impact of the loss of funding as they try to upgrade aging traditional public school buildings.
Just to make the problem real, read a 2014 Ledger article from Polk County. Alachua County has had similar concerns. In today’s Gainesville Sun, Erin Jester reports that Alachua County received no PECO funds from 2011-2014, but its charter schools received over $163,000. The article lists losses of over $1.2 million due to the closure of seven of the county’s 21 charter schools.