E. Eugene Webb PhD
The Hillsborough County School Board this past week focused on protecting their own turf, the overgrown, over bloated, poorly managed, school district that they are responsible for, when they denied charter applications from six new charter schools.
A charter school in Florida, operates by a funding source supplied from state and local public education taxes and funds. When a student decides to enroll in a charter school, all the funding from local and state education resources follows the student to the new charter school. Those funds previously went to the Hillsborough County School Board to pay for the cost of operating the Hillsborough County school system.
Here is a breakdown of Florida's public education funding:
Florida receives the third-largest amount of federal education funding. The state government funds education at a lower per-capita rate. Florida ranks 46th in spending and 44th in funding.
• Florida schools spend $9,346 per
pupil for a total of $26.3 billion annually.
• That’s the equivalent of 2.6% of taxpayer income.
• Florida schools receive $3.3 billion or $1,191 per pupil, from the federal government.
• The state of Florida divides $11.8 billion, or $4,200 per pupil, among its public schools.
• Local funding totals $15 billion, or $5,324 per pupil.
• State and local funding is 2.7% of Florida’s taxpayer income.
• Florida’s federal education funding is the equivalent of 0.33% of the state’s taxpayer income.
• Funding for education in Florida totals $30.1 billion, or $10,715 per pupil.
• The difference between spending and funding is $3.9 billion, or $1,369 per pupil.
Source: Education.org: U.S. Public Education Spending Statistics Last Updated: April 22, 2021 by Melanie Hanson
For some additional information on the Hillsborough school board decisions' check out this article from the: Tampa Bay Times by Marlene Sokol and Jeffrey S. Solochek: Hillsborough School Board surprises, saying no to six charters.
“It is so disheartening to see a school board so blatantly put dollars in front of students,” Valora Cole, chairwoman of the board that oversee SouthShore and Woodmont, said in a written statement. “It appears that they are trying to balance their budgets by denying parents the right to make a choice for their child’s education.”
Miss Cole, has it exactly right. This school board is so desperate to get enough money to keep it operating in its incredibly inefficient manner that they are willing to sacrifice anything and everything to retain those dollars that would go to support charter schools.
Hillsborough County was long known for their openness and acceptance of charter school programs, and it has been only recently as money has tightened up that their view of the charter school system has changed.
Over the last few years, the Hillsborough County School Board has time and time again been encouraged to and, in some cases, actually tried to rein in the budget which is over bloated with administration, and special programs, old schools, maintenance problems, and the list goes on.
They have been unable to achieve any significant restructuring of how educational services are delivered in Hillsborough County. This year they just barely avoided a receivership type take over from the state of Florida.
Putting charter schools on the chopping block is not a solution for the Hillsborough County school system. It's just simply throwing good money after poor education, poor management and poor judgment.
Up next, you are going to see a major push for a property tax increase to fund this outdated an unproductive educational system.
You can expect numerous legal challenges to the board's decision to reject these charter school petitions, significantly so, since many of these organizations have already committed hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more in preparing their application and facilities to meet the Hillsborough County School Board requirements for charter schools.
One can only hope, that the courts will recognize the inadequacy of the Hillsborough school district attempt to sustain itself by denying these charter school applications strictly for money and not for education.
It may be time for the Florida Department of education to take a look at one of Florida's largest school districts, in fact, a state takeover is not a bad idea.
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