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Senate Education Committee Looks To Merge Competing Charter School Bills

Florida Senator David Simmons (R-Maitland) wants to strengthen state laws governing financial transparency and accountability for charter schools. He says high-profile closures of charter schools due to failing grades and financial instability have hurt the charter school movement, "and if it keeps going on, I think the charter school movement will be significantly injured.” 

Some proposals require local school districts share a portion of their building fund with charters or turn over unused facilities.  Others place caps on payouts after a school closes. Both provisions are in a similar House charter school overhaul bill.

But the Senate proposals also work the other way around.  For example, under a bill by Senator Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee), some school districts may soon be able to gain many of the exemptions that exist for charters under state law.

The Senate education committee is trying to narrow the varying proposals into two main bills: one dealing with finances and accountability, and the other to deal with school districts becoming charter-like "innovation centers."

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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