Email to Senate Appropriations Committee on Education

Here’s the latest Accountabaloney blog post about HB 1:


THIS BLOG, however, is about how the voucher expansion bills appear to allow double dipping by ESA recipients when they enroll part-time in Florida’s traditional public, magnet or charter schools. This is a problem that needs to be fixed.  Currently part-time students (mostly homeschoolers) are funded through the state’s funding formula, the FEFP.  … Line 212 says the ESA can be used to purchase contracted services provided by a public school or school district, including classes, and makes it clear that part-time enrollment is not considered public school enrollment. No mention is made regarding the determination of costs for these contracted services.
Beginning on line 1324 of SB 202:

1002.44 Part-time public school enrollment.—
(1) Any public school in this state, including a charter school, may enroll a student on a part-time basis who meets the regular school attendance criteria in s. 1003.01(13)(b)-(e), subject to space and availability according to the school’s capacity determined pursuant to s. 1002.31(2)(b).
(2) A student attending a public school on a part-time basis pursuant to this section shall generate full-time equivalent student membership as described in s. 1011.61(1)(b).
(3) A student attending a public school on a part-time basis pursuant to this section is not considered to be in regular attendance at a public school as defined in s. 1003.01(13)(a).

Translating that legalese:
The bill says that ESAs [line 212] can be spent for contracted services, including taking classes on a part-time basis at a public school or school district. Later the bill says [line 1325] that part-time attendance at a public school is reimbursed via the FEFP, the state funding formula. Which is it? Do school districts negotiate contracts for services with ESA recipients or do they continue to get funded for part-time attendance via the FEFP? When my question was asked to House Appropriations staff, I was told the intention was to pay public schools via the FEFP, which would mean taxpayers would be paying double for ESA recipients to attend public schools part-time – once via the ESA and again via the district’s FEFP.

This is what I sent to the committee that will hear SB 202 on March 8, 2023:

———- Forwarded message ———
Subject: SB 202

SB202 will be heard in your committee on March 8 at 11am.

If students receiving the voucher money use public school services, then payment for those services should come out of their voucher money not via the FEFP. Please fix that. Otherwise taxpayers would be paying double for ESA recipients to attend public schools part-time – once via the ESA and again via the district’s FEFP. Please allow the school district to negotiate a fair price to be paid out of the voucher including the amount to cover the capital outlay funds that the school didn’t receive because the voucher student isn’t included in the per student count when the capital outlay funds are distributed.

If the students want to make use of the public school services or facilities, they need to reimburse the school district, i.e. the taxpayers. Parents can opt out of the public schools, but taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund that decision. If you continue to force taxpayers to fund that decision, you need to make sure that taxpayers are funding quality education in these alternative choices PLUS make sure it isn’t hurting the quality of our public schools.

Please don’t ignore the experience of Arizona and New Hampshire by underestimating the cost of the Universal Voucher expansion.  There needs to be a cap! How much can Florida’s budget handle before it starts to hurt the funding of our public schools?

Also, do millionaires really need this subsidy for the elite private school tuition of their children? The current income limit is 375% of poverty level. Raise it if you want, but don’t raise it to a family income of a million dollars. It’s outrageous that you want middle class families to subsidize the elite private school tuition of millionaires.

Just last week, the Idaho legislature rejected a similar Universal ESA bill with GOP lawmakers concerned they had “absolutely no clue what the dollar amount on this is” and saying “It’s actually against my conservative Republican perspective to hand this money out with no accountability that these precious tax dollars are being used wisely.”

Vote no on SB 202 or at least fix the problems.


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