Charter Schools Rally for Construction Funds

Charter school administrators are asking lawmakers from more money. Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools don’t receive taxpayer funds to build new buildings and repair old ones. 500 charter school students, parents and teachers were in Tallahassee Wednesday trying to find the cash to keep the movement growing.

Armed with signs and yellow shirts, hundreds of charter school students, parents, and teachers swarmed the state capital Wednesday.

The first charter schools in Florida opened in 1996. Today there are more than 500 hundred, educating 180-thousand students. School administrators say a lack of funding is threatening their ability to growth. Cheri Shannon represents Fl Charter School Alliance. “Children who are in charter schools receive on average 30 to 40 percent less funding than children in traditional schools.”

That’s about 2-thousand fewer dollars per student. Charter schools are supporting legislation to eliminate the funding gap. The plan would take billions of dollars from traditional public schools that use the money to build new facilities and fix old ones.

We asked Governor Rick Scott if the schools deserve to be funded at the same level. “They are government funded schools. They are no different that traditional public schools in that matter. We’ve got to make sure they are properly funded.”

House Democrat Evan Jenne supports charter schools, but says they need their own funding source because traditional public schools can’t afford to lose any more money. “We need to find a way to fund charter schools on their own so we don’t have this constant fight over funding.

Legislation to allow equal funding may not pass this session, because of its overall impact of the state’s education budget.

Increases to the school voucher program and legislation to allow more charter schools to open over the past few years has allowed the school option movement to take off. Florida has added 140 new charter schools since 2009.

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