Public Education Capital Outlay

Meredith Geddings / Florida House of Representatives

Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, and the Florida Association of District School Superintendents are at odds over whether districts are overspending on school construction.

Griffin Middle School is just one of ten schools honored t.
via Leon County Schools

Florida schools districts may be spending too much on building schools. That’s according to a report compiled by Representative Erik Fresen.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU News

The Florida House and Senate are $400 million apart in their state spending plan proposals for the upcoming fiscal year. The House is pushing a $75.3 billion proposal while the Senate's comes in at $74.9 billion. That’s a lot closer than the chambers have been in recent years, thanks to an influx of cash from a recovering economy. But the proposals take different routes to funding two key areas: water projects and school construction.

Water, Water Everywhere

LHatter / WFSU News

For the first time in years, Florida’s public, K-12 schools are slated to get state money for construction and maintenance. But school officials say while they’re grateful for what’s been proposed, they’re not ready to start counting those dollars just yet.

Governor Rick Scott’s proposed budget allocates  $80 million for new roofs, air conditioners and other overdue maintenance projects at the state’s more than 3,500 public schools. It may sound like a lot of money, but Halandale Beach Democratic Representative Joe Gibbons says it won’t go very far.

Charter schools are state-funded, but free from some of the rules and regulations that govern traditional public schools. Many of them are privately owned and operated. Charters  get less funding than regular schools do. The biggest funding inequity comes in construction and building money, but a bill in the Florida House could soon change that.  

Florida Board of Governors

The Board overseeing Florida’s public universities says the state has lots to be proud of when it comes to higher education. Over the past year the board has worked to increase its authority over local university boards. During Thursday's "State of the System" address, the board’s chairman said that role isn’t going to diminish anytime soon.

A state task force is trying to find ways to boost facility funding for charter schools, but it could come at the expense of traditional public schools and property owners. The move come after a proposal requiring local school districts to share their money with charters failed in the Florida legislature earlier in the year, but the issue itself is far from dead.

The state’s education budget is slated to be increased this year after years of funding cuts, and public schools say any increase is better than nothing. But within the traditional school structure, an internal battle is brewing. And Lynn Hatter reports it revolves around funding for one specific type of public school- charters.

Charters are public schools with more flexibility in who they hire and how they operate.  But there’s a trade-off to that flexibility, as a report out of a state tax watchdog points out: