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Intersection: The Controversy Over Florida’s Education Bill

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Photo: Christopher Sessums on Flickr.

Florida’s education bill, HB 7069, which steers more money towards charter schools is controversial with public school advocates, teachers and superintendents. Now school districts are talking about legal action to try and get the law turned around.

Kristen Clark, education reporter with the Miami Herald, and Trimmel Gomes, host of the Rotunda podcast, joined Intersection to talk more about the lawsuit and what it means for school districts, teachers and students.

The bill shares money for construction and maintenance between charter schools and public schools.

Clark said this becomes a big deal for public schools because charter schools are typically newer and in rented facilities so they don’t have the same maintenance needs that public schools have.

“You have a backlog of school construction projects and maintenance that needs to be done,” she said.

“Schools that have leaky roofs or need new paint in their classrooms, or, you know, air conditioners breaking down, things like that. The very expensive projects on very old buildings, those costs in every dollar adds up.”

Gomes said there was a lack of transparency when the bill was being proposed.

“They [the school districts] wanted to have a seat at the table, they wanted the process to be open,” Gomes said.

“They saw this bill at the last hour they didn’t get a chance to see it go through the process, and they didn’t get a chance to the dais and say ‘nay’ to what they were seeing proposed.”

Clark said she doesn’t think the lawsuit is going to happen in the near future.

“You do have some districts that say they might consider suing but they really want to wait maybe a few months and see what lawmakers do, because they come back in September for committee weeks and advance of the 2018 session,” Clark said.

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