Bill requiring tax money to pay for charter schools’ capital outlay readied for passage

Empty school classroom in cartoon style. Education concept witho
Lawmakers seek to bolster the amount of public funding for charter school students' education.

A bill that would mean charter schools get a share of school districts’ tax money to for capital outlay is headed for its final legislative vote.

Sen. Travis Hutson swapped out his bill (SB 1328) for the House-approved version (HB 1259) Wednesday and the Senate rolled it over for third reading. It could win final passage as soon as Thursday.

This year, school districts will collect some $4.2 billion for funding capital costs. Under the bill, some of that pot of money would flow to charter schools, which are considered public schools that are owned and operated by nonprofits and businesses.

Charter schools would get $55.9 million next year at current enrollment numbers. If all things remain the same — the tax money collected and the number of students enrolled — charter schools’ level of funding from local districts taxes would grow to $490.2 million in the fifth year as the glide path ends, according to an analysis of the House bill.

Hutson rebuffed the notion that tax money would be going to improve private property. The bill calls for the improvements to revert to public ownership if a charter school loses its standing as such, but the House debate pointed out that it might be difficult to recover a roof that taxpayers funded.

“I believe we’re taking taxpayer dollars to invest in student education,” Hutson said.

Democrats had some questions about the formula for distributing this capital outlay, however. The bill calls for charter schools to receive funding based on number of students. But Democrats said that public schools receive the money based on the needs of the publicly owned buildings.

And so Democratic Sen. Tracie Davis proposed amending the bill so that charter school buildings would have to undergo a needs assessment every five years.

Hutson said he was not entirely against the idea, but not now.

“I appreciate the thought and spirit,” Hutson said. “I’m committed with our colleagues in the Florida House next year to work on a lot of this stuff.”

Sen. Rosalind Osgood, who represents central Broward County, peppered Hutson with questions.

“Have you considered the negative impact this bill will have on districts’ long-term facility plans?” she asked.

Hutson replied, “No, I have not.”

Then she asked, “Have you considered the impact that this bill will have on district debt service obligations?”

“I have considered it, but it’s not contemplated in the bill right now,” Hutson said.

The bill calls for districts to pay the debt service and subtract it from the pot of money it will share with charter schools.

Sen. Jason Pizzo said it was unfair to divide the money as the bill dictates. The debt service should be included in calculating the pot of money to be divided between public schools and charter ones. The bill proposes subtracting the debt service and then calculating charter schools’ share from that amount.

“You are screwing Broward County out of $47 million,” Pizzo said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].

One comment

  • JD

    May 3, 2023 at 11:10 pm

    This is bullshit. It’s another attempt to decimate public schooling to line the coffers of the businesses that run the schools. Follow the money.

    There is NO PLACE for private business in running schools. Schooling is public RIGHT not a privilege. Stop letting the FLGOP treat it as such.

    Show me the metrics that warrants this type of treatment – they are not any better (and in my locality worse) than the public schools.

    F@cking vote the shameful FLGOP out.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704