Volusia citizens approved a 5 cent sales tax hike for school construction. The legislature wants to take it away. Why? Cutting taxes, even those citizens want is the theme of this year’s legislature. To justify the cuts, some legislatures claim that too many school facility projects exceeded state caps on spending. They failed to mention that the cost basis for facilities is very out of date. Moreover, some communities want an auditorium or similar feature that is not covered in the facility cost cap. If they exceed the cap, the district is penalized financially.
To add to the problem, the current bill would require districts to share facility funding with charter schools. In Volusia, there are only two charters, but the loss to the district is $300,000. It is no surprise charters want the money. They were supposed to be less expensive than traditional schools, but the lure of more money is always there.
At some point, the legislature will have to face the reality that competition is not saving money. It is just going in different directions. Public schools have many older buildings that need renovation. Shifting money to charters makes a bad problem worse. Think about it, if you have 600 students who could all fit in one school, and you take 300 of them and enroll them in another, you have two buildings to pay for instead of one. Why are we doing this and calling it a good choice?