TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — “I believe the money should follow the student,” Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Elkton) said as Florida’s Legislature approved a plan (HB 1259) to give charter schools their fair share of funding collected in local school districts through property taxes.
Democrats unanimously opposed distributing the funding on a per-student basis, arguing that public schools have more capital needs and buildings to maintain. In addition, the universal school choice path forged by conservatives has Democrats worried that more money will be diverted to private schools and away from the bloated public school system.
The charter student population is 71 percent minority and over 50 percent poor children by the federal standard. Republicans have clarified that school districts can still spend money how they want – on buildings, technology, buses – but money would be divided by the number of students, giving charter schools a funding share based on enrollment.
In the past six years, school district revenue from property taxes has risen 56 percent to $4.4 billion statewide. But in the same period, the public school population has decreased by almost ten percent in some counties, like Broward County.
Governor DeSantis is expected to sign the legislation in the next few weeks.