A New Day for One Local School Board

Alain Brian
Juillet 20, 2017

Critics of the new law say it strips constitutional authority away from school districts and from local governments to provide even limited oversight of charter schools and where they locate.

However, Duval School Board member Scott Shine isn't convinced legal action is smart.

"What do we say to our children who think their schools are going to close", Wright asked.

Under the bill, two Jacksonville-area middle schools - Northwest and Matthew Gilbert - are at high risk of closing and being replaced by charter schools.

However, Board Vice Chair Ashley Smith Juarez said she'd prefer to pump the brakes. She said she met with legislators all year and tried to educate them, but the bill still passed.

Duval County's board is seeking advice from general counsel to see what the next steps might be. Details are coming soon.

House Bill 7069 has received heavy criticism for making public school districts share taxpayer funds with charter schools for construction and maintenance. They warned that public school facilities would suffer if the new law is allowed to be implemented. Under that program, the state would put $140 million dollars into a fund that charter operators could access. The bill significantly shortens how much time F-rated and D-rated public schools have to turn themselves around before they can be forced to close or be taken over by charter school companies.

Duval County School Board members debated Wednesday about the possibility of taking legal action against the Florida Legislature over a new state law that many districts say unfairly favors charter schools, but no decision was made.

So far two districts, Broward and St. Lucie counties, have voted to sue the state, and several more have held School Board discussions about it. Even that requirement pertains to regular public schools, not charter schools.

In the eyes of fellow kindergarten teacher and Manteca Educators Association President Ericka Meadows - who said she stood in solidarity with the members of the California School Employees Association - the aides assisted in developing the "most pivotal building block in a child's education" and said that keeping the positions would be "one of the best investments that a board can make". Sarasota County, Manatee and Palm Beach counties also reportedly are considering it.

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