Financial Dispute Regarding Florida Charter Schools Heads to Mediation
Saturday, November, 21, 2015
Charter schools in Indian River claim they are entitled to at least $1.5 million from the school district. Three years ago, voters approved a tax increase to generate more money for schools, but they have yet to see a dime. The dispute has begun mediation as of November 9th.
The payment was approved by voters in the 2012 election. The voters approved a five-year property tax hike, which included 60 cents for every $1000 of assessed property value to be put toward critical operating costs of all schools – both charter and others in the district. This included computers required for students at the charter schools to take state exams. The tax generated $8 million a year, but the charter schools have yet to see what they are owed.
Charter schools are a privately operated alternative to district schools, but are still public schooling. Officials claim they deserve the same share per student from the voter-approved tax as the district schools, but so far are receiving only half as much. The charters are requesting $1.5 to $1.75 million, which is what they would have received under equal funding per student based on the tax.
Whether or not the charters deserve the same amount of money has the Indian River County School Board at odds. Some believe the charter schools should be treated the same, as the students have the same requirements, but others do not want to give the charter schools the money and do not believe they are legally obligated to do so, as Florida law allows sharing of tax dollars with charters “at the discretion of the school board.”