A battle about whether charter schools are entitled to a cut of tax dollars that Palm Beach County voters approved in 2018 for more-traditional public schools has gone to the Florida Supreme Court.
The Palm Beach County School Board on Thursday filed a notice of taking the issue to the Supreme Court after a divided 4th District Court of Appeals sided with charter schools in February. As is common, the notice does not detail the school board’s arguments.
In a 7-4 ruling, the appeals court said wording in a 2018 referendum that excluded charter schools from receiving a share of increased property-tax revenues violated state law. The referendum asked voters to approve a tax increase for issues such as school safety and teacher pay, saying the money would be “dedicated for operational needs of non-charter district schools.”
Charter schools are public schools that are typically operated by private entities. After voters approved the ballot measure, two charter schools, Academy for Positive Learning and Palm Beach Maritime Academy, and two parents filed the lawsuit arguing that charter schools were entitled to part of the money.
The majority of the appeals court said charter schools could not be shut out of the voter-approved funding because of part of state law that said charter-school students “shall be funded as if they are in a basic program or a special program, the same as students enrolled in other public schools in the school district.”
The opinion also said that the wording in the ballot measure that prevented charter schools from receiving money was “severable” — essentially meaning that it can be disregarded — and that the rest of the referendum could remain in “full force and effect.”