SB 48 (2021)

Please take a look starting at line 3953 of SB 48. When people go to buy a car, they will be asked if they want to divert their sales tax dollars to “K-12 Education Funding.”
What will they think their money is going to? Will they realize they are diverting their sales tax dollars to fund unaccountable private school vouchers and to fund the unregulated efforts of home school parents?

Link to SB 48: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2021/48

That’s not the only problem with SB 48 but it makes it obvious that the bill sponsor is trying to deceive the public.

This is our tax money! We want our tax money to go to HIGH QUALITY schools. Certainly a parent can choose to send their child to a subpar school but the taxpayer shouldn’t be forced to pay for it.

I am worried that this bill will take even more money from the already diminishing budget of the district run schools.

Our district-run schools need funds for wrap around services, libraries, art classes, music classes, team sports, civic classes, and high quality science classes. Of course until the pandemic is over, the district run schools are being forced to do virtual and brick and mortar.

Quote from a blog hosted by Step Up for Students:
Step Up for Students, which hosts this blog, uses 11 lobbyists, according to state records. “Everybody is trying to get a piece of the pie” …The new school voucher plan could be a test case for the new-look Florida Supreme Court. The plan draws from general revenue funds instead of tax credits. When a similar idea was enacted in 2006, the state Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional [because it gave money to religious organizations in violation of the state constitution that says adherents and philanthropists should fund religious institutions of their choice not taxpayers being forced to fund other people’s religious institutions]. But three of the justices who supported that decision are no longer on the court, having been replaced by justices who have previously supported voucher programs. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the tax credit and other state scholarship programs. Link to the blog: https://www.redefinedonline.org/2019/03/florida-schools-roundup-education-lobby-vouchers-and-the-top-court-and-more

Another article about SB 48: https://lwveducation.com/category/florida/

Florida voters said NO to Amendment 8 in 2012 but then they keep electing representatives who pass bills in violation of our Florida Constitution. Hopefully SB 48 won’t pass. Info about the 2012 amendment 8 in case you don’t remember:
https://www.au.org/content/florida-amendment-8-0

Questions for the Sales tax Citizen Oversight Committee

Does the school board get the surtax money every month from the state?
How often are they required to give the charter schools their portion?
Can they withhold the charter school portion if the charter school hasn’t submitted the requested information to the Citizen Oversight Committee?

Can the Citizen Oversight Committee require:
1. All financial documents, bond requests, loan requests that were made in anticipation of the sales tax revenue
2. The detail of the owners of the charter school drilled down to the names of the people
3. The detail of the owners of the building (drilled down to the names of the people) that the charter school is leasing with our sales tax money
4. The competitive bids and if the project was awarded to a related party
5. Will this information be on a website for the public to see?

Link to Florida statute 212.055 :
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/STATUTES/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0200-0299/0212/Sections/0212.055.html

Excerpts from 212.055 (6):
(6) SCHOOL CAPITAL OUTLAY SURTAX.—
[this statement was required by HB 7097 passed in early 2020]: The resolution must include a statement that the revenues collected must be shared with eligible charter schools based on their proportionate share of the total school district enrollment. …  Surtax revenues shared with charter schools shall be expended by the charter school in a manner consistent with the allowable uses set forth in s. 1013.62(4). All revenues and expenditures shall be accounted for in a charter school’s monthly or quarterly financial statement pursuant to s. 1002.33(9). The eligibility of a charter school to receive funds under this subsection shall be determined in accordance with s. 1013.62(1). If a school’s charter is not renewed or is terminated and the school is dissolved under the provisions of law under which the school was organized, any unencumbered funds received under this subsection shall revert to the sponsor.(d) Surtax revenues collected by the Department of Revenue pursuant to this subsection shall be distributed to the school board imposing the surtax in accordance with law. [But how often? Every month?]

What is this saying? Here’s my guess:

Charter schools will get at least the amount of capital outlay funds per student that was distributed in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
No such guarantee is given to the district owned school buildings.

Excerpt from 1013.62

Beginning in fiscal year 2021-2022, charter school capital outlay funding shall consist of state funds when such funds are appropriated in the General Appropriations Act and revenue resulting from the discretionary millage authorized in s. 1011.71(2) if the amount of state funds appropriated for charter school capital outlay in any fiscal year is less than the average charter school capital outlay funds per unweighted full-time equivalent student for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, multiplied by the estimated number of charter school students for the applicable fiscal year, and adjusted by changes in the Consumer Price Index issued by the United States Department of Labor from the previous fiscal year. Nothing in this subsection prohibits a school district from distributing to charter schools funds resulting from the discretionary millage authorized in s. 1011.71(2).

New charter school being built across the street from an A rated neighborhood elementary school

1. Will River City Education Services, Inc be using our sales tax dollars to repay the loans that are funding the two new charter schools? They have two new charter schools approved by the school board:

***CHARTER SCHOOL CONTRACT FOR RIVER CITY EDUCATION SERVICES, INC., TO OPEN RIVER CITY SCIENCE ACADEMY INTRACOASTAL

*** CHARTER SCHOOL CONTRACT FOR RIVER CITY EDUCATION SERVICES, INC., TO OPEN RIVER CITY SCIENCE ACADEMY SOUTHEAST

2. Is it true that according to Florida statute 1002.33, the school board could not have denied these charter school applications? If the school board had wanted to deny the application but failed to win on appeal, then the school board would have been subject to this part of the statute:

The administrative law judge shall award the prevailing party reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred during the mediation process, administrative proceeding, and any appeals, to be paid by the party whom the administrative law judge rules against.

School board member answered: Yes, this is accurate

3. Are you worried that real estate investors are getting rich off the taxpayers? 

School board member answered: Yes 

4. Will these charter schools still be here after the half cent sales tax ends? 

School board member answered: We would not be able to predict this 

5. Or will they close and we’ll essentially lose our tax dollars? HB 7069 forced local school boards to share our property taxes with charter schools. Then in 2020, HB 7097 is forcing us to share our sales tax dollars with charter schools. Quote from this article:

The report also notes that nearly 400 charters in Florida have closed over the last couple of decades. What research went into this report, and why, in Integrity Florida’s view, have charters not succeeded in their mission?  

6. What can you do to mitigate the damage caused by charter schools closing? 

School board member answers: This will fall to the families that make choices about which schools to attend. 

7. Now that our sales tax money is going to the charter school industry, I fear charter schools are going to start popping up all over town.  What will that do to our excellent neighborhood schools that are loved by the parents. I guess if the parents don’t like their neighborhood school, then perhaps they’ll be happy for another option. But it’s going to be a sad day if millions of our sales tax dollars go to build new charter schools that subsequently close and there are no clawback provisions in place to recoup our sales tax dollars even if the charter school building is sold for millions to a private school or other private investor. 

School board member answered: This would be very sad and frustrating indeed. 

I sent the below email to my city council member but I have not received a response:
 

Honorable City Council Member Boylan,
I was told that even though the charter school didn’t have to apply for a zoning change, they did have to apply for a building permit. Approval should have been denied due to traffic congestion.  How do I find out who approved the building permit? 
Link to article about it: https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2020/11/10/a-charter-school-is-being-built-across-the-street-from-a-public-school-some-arent-happy-about-it/
It doesn’t seem we can blame the school board for this. They have the least control over the funding and placement of charter schools. The majority on the city council by delaying the vote on the referendum and the majority state legislators for explicitly taking away the school board’s power to deny the application are to blame if you see a problem with a charter school building right across the street from an A rated neighborhood school. 
But if traffic is also an issue, then we can blame the person that approved the building permit?
Can we stop this charter school from building right across the street from an A rated public school on a two lane road where traffic is already an issue? If yes, how? And if it’s too late to stop this, how can we stop it from happening all over town now that the state legislators have forced us to give our sales tax dollars to charter schools?
Thanks,



References:

  1. Response from Dr. Greene forwarded to me from a friend:

The Oversight Committee is an independent body from the school district, and they have the autonomy to establish reporting requirements for public and charter schools. As a meeting of a governmental advisory body, there will be an opportunity for public comment, and I hope you will share your concerns there as well.

2. The latest RIVER CITY EDUCATION SERVICES, INC.  form 990 can be found at this link:

https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/205773949/201733319349300218/full

Excerpt from the Form 990:

Form 990, Part IX, Line 24e   INSTRUCTIONAL STAFF TRAINING  92,127

Form 990, Part IX, Line 24e   BOARD OF EDUCATION                     303,064

Form 990, Part IX, Line 24e   SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION           1,554,429

Form 990, Part IX, Line 24e   FACILITIES ACQ & RENT                1,158,065

Form 990, Part IX, Line 24e   FISCAL SERVICES                               339,272

Form 990, Part IX, Line 24e   OPERATION OF PLANT                      832,877

Form 990, Part IX, Line 24e   MAINTENANCE OF PLANT               154,098

Form 990, Part IX, Line 24e   COMMUNITY SERVICE                     327,143

Etc to a total of  $6,232,860 on line 24 e

3. Excerpts from an opinion piece from a couple of years ago:

Thanks to HB 7069 and other laws, the most profitable enterprise in the charter school industry is real estate. To see how this works, consider the case of River City Science Academy in Jacksonville. 

Link to article: https://www.news-press.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/10/13/pushing-charter-schools-accountability/754658001/
A
nother article mentions it on page 184-185:  https://empireofdeceit.com/resources/pdf/Empire_of_Deceit_final.pdf

Amy Coney Barrett and the consequences

Why didn’t Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute invite someone that would be willing to challenge Barrett’s extremist views? I was disappointed in Rick Mullaney’s interview of Amy Coney Barrett. Originalism is an intellectual cloak drummed up to dignify a view of the Constitution as a straitjacket on the ability of the local, state, and federal government to act on behalf of the public. 

Originalists want to do this despite the Constitution’s preamble, which states that one of its basic purposes is to “promote the general welfare.”

 
Mullaney asks if Congress had a right to pass the Affordable Care Act. He uses the phrase “fundamental right to health care.” She doesn’t answer the question about a fundatmental right to health care, but instead starts rambling about the death penalty and abortion. Later in the interview, Barrett says the Supreme Court wrongly decided that the state exchanges could mean the exchanges offered at the federal level. In other words, she would have ruled to deprive citizens of the subsidy the ACA provides. Luckily the Supreme Court (without her) ruled to allow citizens in states that don’t have exchanges to still qualify for the ACA subsidies.


Also in the interview, she claims that trans people aren’t the gender they identify as. She uses the term “physiologically a boy.” Barrett’s unscientific view of gender will hurt real people. Scientific research (specifically through genetics, neurobiology and endocrinology) helps us understand the transgender experience. I wish the Republicans in the Senate had not confirmed her nomination. I fear that she has no empathy for real people.

There are two oaths: constitutional oath and judicial oath. (Reference 11) Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas swore in Amy Coney Barrett under a constitutional oath at a White House event Monday evening. (Ref 10) Why did Thomas do it? Why didn’t Chief Justice Roberts do both?

Justice Thomas thinks states should be allowed to establish their own religion. (Ref 7) I fear the White House ceremony that took place Monday evening is signaling how the court will rule concerning government collaboration with religious institutions. What will happen to the wall separating church and state? Will the new Supreme Court give states the power to pass laws preferring one religion over another, or to take taxpayer money and give it to the church preferred by the Governor? 

I also fear that Barrett and the other extremist justices do not recognize reproductive rights.  (Ref 8) Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly on the number and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of reproductive health. (Ref 9)


There was a time when the Supreme Court ruled that legislators couldn’t pass laws to protect workers. (Ref 5) Will this new Court take us back to the Lochner era? Will the American people hold the senators responsible who confirmed Barrett if Barrett and Thomas and Alito prove to be extremists out of step with most Americans?  (Ref 6)


Judge Barrett has explicitly stated that “adherence to originalism arguably requires … the reversal of Brown v. Board of Education,” the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund wrote, quoting a phrase from another article co-written by Barrett. The LDF report says the discussion of Brown “raises serious questions about her commitment to enforcing core civil rights protections. … Treating Brown as potentially mistaken, even if untouchable, is far different from recognizing that it was correctly decided.” (ref 4)  


Why didn’t Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute invite someone that would be willing to challenge Barrett’s extremist views?  Regarding this article:https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/local/2020/10/27/amy-coney-barretts-2016-lecture-jacksonville-logs-740-000-hits/6035510002/

Barrett is full of malarkey. Around minute 36 (ref 2) in the video, Mullaney asks if Congress had a right to pass the Affordable Care Act. He uses the phrase “fundamental right to health care.” She doesn’t answer the question about a fundatmental right to health care, but instead starts rambling about the death penalty and abortion. Later in the video, she says the Supreme Court wrongly decided that the state exchanges could mean the exchanges offered at the federal level. In other words, she would have ruled to deprive citizens of the subsidy the ACA provides. Luckily the Supreme Court (without her) ruled to allow citizens in states that don’t have exchanges to still qualify for the ACA subsidies.

Around minute 40, she claims that trans people aren’t the gender they identify as. She uses the term “physiologically a boy.” Barrett’s unscientific view of gender will hurt real people. Scientific research (specifically through genetics, neurobiology and endocrinology) helps us understand the transgender experience. (ref 3)

 references
1. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/originalism-barrett/616844/
2.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yjTEdZ81lI
3.  https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/voices/stop-using-phony-science-to-justify-transphobia/https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/10/erase-transgender-definition

4. https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/2020/10/barrett_says_brown_v_board_of_.html
5.  The Supreme Court ruled 5–4 that the law limiting bakers’ working hours did not constitute a legitimate exercise of state powers and so it was unconstitutional. The Court argued for freedom of contract and that unequal bargaining power was irrelevant. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lochner_v._New_York#Judgment
6. …judges like Barrett generally have been willing to strike down laws they don’t like. It is an echo of the so-called Lochner era of the early 20th century, when the Supreme Court threw out laws on the minimum wage, child labor or other business regulation. So get ready for a big, long fight over the American economy, with the Supreme Court at the center of it all. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/19/briefing/amy-coney-barrett-voting-world-series-your-monday-briefing.html

7. Justice Thomas wrote: “The text and history of the Establishment Clause strongly suggest that it is a federalism provision intended to prevent Congress from interfering with state establishments.”https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/02-1624.ZC2.html
8. Connecticut law even criminalized the use of contraception altogether. https://fortune.com/2015/06/07/50-years-legal-birth-control-workplace/
9. Link about reproductive rights:  https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/en/
10. The 48-year-old, sworn in by Justice Clarence Thomas at the White House in the 9 p.m.hour, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/10/27/daily-202-voting-wars-flare-up-justice-barrett-joins-supreme-court/
11. https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/oath/oaths_of_the_current_court_10-1-2010.pdf

Letter to city council regarding 2020-627

To the City Council,

The state legislature has taken away the school board’s authority to safeguard our sales tax dollars going to the charter school industry. (ref 3) It is up to the city council to be diligent when voting on ordinances that are giving our sales tax dollars to the charter school industry. I urge the city council to vote no on 2020-627 as the money appears to be aimed at enriching real estate investors.

If the city council had not prevented us from voting on the sales tax referendum in 2019, our referendum would not have fallen under HB 7097 passed in 2020 which took away the school board’s ability to protect our sales tax dollars going to the charter school industry in addition to forcing us to give our sales tax dollars to charter schools on a per student formula instead of a needs basis.

Superintendent Greene (in an email I received in response to my inquiry) confirmed that in the event a charter school closes, our sales tax money (except for the money sitting in the bank) will be forfeited to the real estate investor. It is up to the city council to protect our sales tax dollars going to the charter school industry because the state legislature has taken away the school board’s authority.  

The City of Jacksonville’s Office of Economic Development and the Office of General Counsel negotiated the bond application (2020-627) with the Jacksonville Alliance for KIPP Schools. Based on the bill summary, they indicate that they will provide oversight and administration. 

The bond is outside the purview of the Duval County School Board. The city council needs to ascertain the legitimacy of the claim that KIPP’s “affiliates” and “any successor” and “McDuff QALICB2, Inc”  qualify as an educational institution for purposes of the bond. McDuff QALICB2, Inc and JAKS appear to me to be real estate investors.

A recent audit revealed that Kipp paid $850,000 in rent to JAKS in that audit year. (ref 6) This bond is being done partly to give money to Chartrand and Baker. (ref 1) Jason Gabriel’s office in 2019 interpreted “shall” to mean “doesn’t have to” in order to help the charter school industry including Chartrand and Baker or so it appeared to me. The city council and the school board need to be skeptical of the Office of General Counsel opinions when it comes to the profit motivated charter school industry.

I assume the bond will be repaid with lease payments funded by our sales tax dollars.. I continue to wonder if the voters understood that Jason Fischer co-sponsored HB 7097 which took away the school board’s ability to protect our sales tax dollars going to charter schools when they voted for him in the last election.

Please see references below which back up my fact claims. 

Begin forwarded message from school board member in response to my inquiry about the authority of the citizen oversight committee:

Hi Susan,

For you reference, the SB policy outlining the role and responsibilities of the Oversight Committee can be found here: https://dcps.duvalschools.org/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=12486&dataid=70317&FileName=Chapter%209%20-%20School%20Community%20Relations%20and%20Interlocal%20Agreements.pdf

 Policy 9.66

Please note that the Oversight Committee does not have the authority to approve or deny plans. They provide monitoring and oversight and then report findings back to the SB.

Charter schools may use their funds for any/all allowable uses defined in FL Statute. This is the same statute that Charters have already been using to guide Capital funds; this should be a familiar process for Charter schools.

As is current practice, the state essentially circumvents the local school board to provide direct oversight of the Charter school system and this process will not be an exception. If there is misuse this would be reported like any other discrepancy in spending of capital funds through the District to the State DOE.

I hope this is helpful.

———- Forwarded message ———

From: Susan
Date: Tue, Nov 24, 2020 at 1:39 PM
Subject: Has the state legislature left the local elected school board with any options to protect our sales tax money going to charter schools?
To: Senator Gibson <gibson.audrey.web@flsenate.gov>, <BEAN.AARON.WEB@flsenate.gov>, <clay.yarborough@myfloridahouse.gov>, <cord.byrd@myfloridahouse.gov>, <jason.fischer@myfloridahouse.gov>, <tracie.davis@myfloridahouse.gov>, <wyman.duggan@myfloridahouse.gov>, <angie.nixon@yahoo.com>

To the Duval Legislative Delegation,

I urge you to please pass a bill to provide protections for our sales tax dollars in the event the charter school receiving our sales tax dollars should close.

Are there any options for the local school board to put restrictions on the money going to charter schools? A charter school and its affiliates are seeking a bond which I assume they plan to repay with our sales tax money so this is an urgent question. Link to the ordinance that the city council will soon be voting on:  https://jaxcityc.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4663688&GUID=5172AF95-34C2-4EA5-B3CD-67405B8D9A31

1. Under state law, would the school board be allowed to require clawback provisions to recoup our sales tax dollars if the charter school closes or the building is sold?
2. The Oversight Committee must monitor the expenditures but do they have any authority to withhold funding? The Oversight Committee was an extra layer of protection that was included on our ballot. Our Duval ballot included the words:

“with expenditures based upon the Surtax Capital Outlay Plan, and monitored by an independent citizens committee”

References

1. Excerpt from an email I received from a city official regarding 2020-627:
Yes, the loans in (ii) and (iii) repay loans from Chartrand and Baker. 

2. Florida Statute 1013.62(4) A charter school’s governing body may use charter school capital outlay funds for the following purposes:
(a) Purchase of real property.
(b) Construction of school facilities.
(c) Purchase, lease-purchase, or lease of permanent or relocatable school facilities.
(d) Purchase of vehicles to transport students to and from the charter school.
(e) Renovation, repair, and maintenance of school facilities that the charter school owns or is purchasing through a lease-purchase or long-term lease of 5 years or longer.
(f) Payment of the cost of premiums for property and casualty insurance necessary to insure the school facilities.
(g) Purchase, lease-purchase, or lease of driver’s education vehicles; motor vehicles used for the maintenance or operation of plants and equipment; security vehicles; or vehicles used in storing or distributing materials and equipment.
(h) Purchase, lease-purchase, or lease of computer and device hardware and operating system software necessary for gaining access to or enhancing the use of electronic and digital instructional content and resources; and enterprise resource software applications that are classified as capital assets in accordance with definitions of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, have a useful life of at least 5 years, and are used to support schoolwide administration or state-mandated reporting requirements. Enterprise resource software may be acquired by annual license fees, maintenance fees, or lease agreement.
(i) …

3. The legislature forced us to give our sales tax dollars to charter schools on a per student basis with HB 7097.  It begins on line 1291:
https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/7097/BillText/er/PDF
Quote from the bill HB 7097 beginning at line 1332:

Surtax revenues shared with charter schools shall be expended by the charter school in a manner consistent with the allowable uses set forth in s. 1013.62(4). All revenues and expenditures shall be accounted for in a charter school’s monthly or quarterly financial statement pursuant to s. 1002.33(9). The eligibility of a charter school to receive funds under this subsection shall be determined in accordance with s. 1013.62(1). If a school’s charter is not renewed or is terminated and the school is dissolved under the provisions of law under which the school was organized, any unencumbered funds received under this subsection shall revert to the sponsor. [inadequate clawback provisions for encumbered funds]

4. Florida statute 1013.62(1) (a) To be eligible to receive capital outlay funds, a charter school must:
1.a. Have been in operation for 2 or more years;
b. Be governed by a governing board established in the state for 2 or more years which operates both charter schools and conversion charter schools within the state;
c. Be an expanded feeder chain of a charter school within the same school district that is currently receiving charter school capital outlay funds;
d. Have been accredited by a regional accrediting association as defined by State Board of Education rule; or
e. Serve students in facilities that are provided by a business partner for a charter school-in-the-workplace pursuant to s. 1002.33(15)(b).
2. Have an annual audit that does not reveal any of the financial emergency conditions provided in s. 218.503(1) for the most recent fiscal year for which such audit results are available.
3. Have satisfactory student achievement based on state accountability standards applicable to the charter school.
4. Have received final approval from its sponsor pursuant to s. 1002.33 for operation during that fiscal year.
5. …

5. The bond is getting money to repay Chartrand and Baker for the money they loaned Kipp AND to build a new charter school on Golfair.  I am indeed making the assumption that this bond is going to be repaid with our sales tax money based on the way the ownership of previous buildings were structured and the wording in 2020-627. I believe the following

  • 1. the bond money will go to repay Chartrand and Baker and to build a new charter school
  • 2. the building will be owned by a real estate investor
  • 3. KIPP will use our sales tax money to rent the space from the real estate investor

Here is the link to the 990 for  MCDUFF QALICB 2 https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/474726810/202040239349301004/full The reason I call them a real estate investor is because they describe themselves on their form 990 as follows: “Briefly describe the organization’s mission or most significant activities: HOLD, DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN, AND RETAIN FINANCING AS NEEDED FOR THE REAL ESTATE…”

Here is the link to KIPP where they say they expect to pay $1,163,370 in rent to JAKS and McDuff QALICB 2 in 2020: https://www.kippjax.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/FY-2020-Budget-KIPP-Jacksonville-Schools.pdf

Here is the link to KIPP 2019 audit: https://www.kippjax.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/KIPP-JACKSONVILLE-K-8-SCHOOL-FINAL-2019_AUDIT.pdf Especially interesting is page 25 and 26.

6. Link to KIPP audit:

Can the school board do these things to protect our sales tax dollars?

1) The School Board needs to make it clear that the Sales Surtax Oversight Committee has the same authority over charter school expenditures as it does over the district’s expenditures as stipulated in the referendum that the voters approved..
2) The School Board needs to require Charter schools to provide detailed documentation for how they plan to spend our sales tax dollars similar to the documentation required of the district run schools.
3) Money should not be distributed to the charter school until the planned expenditure is approved by the Oversight Committee. IF the charter school does qualify for the distributions per Florida Statute 1013.62(1) and HB 7097, then the money must be held in a capital reserve fund until the Oversight Committee is convinced that the proposed expenditure is an allowable use.

Excerpt from the wording on our ballot:

… and share with charter schools, for their allowable uses, shall the Duval County School Board be authorized to levy a 15-year half-cent sales surtax, with expenditures based upon the Surtax Capital Outlay Plan, and monitored by an independent citizens committee

Forward from school board member addressing my above concerns:

For you reference, the SB policy outlining the role and responsibilities of the Oversight Committee can be found here: https://dcps.duvalschools.org/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=12486&dataid=70317&FileName=Chapter%209%20-%20School%20Community%20Relations%20and%20Interlocal%20Agreements.pdf

 Policy 9.66

Please note that the Oversight Committee does not have the authority to approve or deny plans. They provide monitoring and oversight and then report findings back to the SB.

Charter schools may use their funds for any/all allowable uses defined in FL Statute. This is the same statute that Charters have already been using to guide Capital funds; this should be a familiar process for Charter schools.

As is current practice, the state essentially circumvents the local school board to provide direct oversight of the Charter school system and this process will not be an exception. If there is misuse this would be reported like any other discrepancy in spending of capital funds through the District to the State DOE.

I hope this is helpful

Duval Sales Tax Money going to Charter Schools

I spoke to the Duval Legislative Delegation during the public comment period yesterday. I spoke at the 1 hour and 2 minute mark:
https://jaxcityc.granicus.com/player/clip/2647?view_id=5&redirect=true&fbclid=IwAR0uANNZA8Osl-JHRwOlPCGy3-uXf-xBJ_N2JFUvMoFAQblG_d-9CdwYLQk

I asked them to please pass a bill to provide protections for our sales tax dollars in the event the charter school receiving our sales tax dollars should close.

But what options does the local school board have now to put restrictions on the money going to charter schools? ​A charter school and its affiliates are seeking a bond which I assume they plan to repay with our sales tax money so this is an urgent question. Link to the ordinance that the city council will soon be voting on:  https://jaxcityc.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4663688&GUID=5172AF95-34C2-4EA5-B3CD-67405B8D9A31

I sent a follow up email to the Duval Legislative Delegation:

1. Under state law, would the school board be allowed to require clawback provisions to recoup our sales tax dollars if the charter school closes or the building is sold?

2. The Oversight Committee must monitor the expenditures but do they have any authority to withhold funding? The Oversight Committee was an extra layer of protection that was included on our ballot. Our Duval ballot included the words: 

with expenditures based upon the Surtax Capital Outlay Plan, and monitored by an independent citizens committee

References


1013.62(4)​ A charter school’s governing body may use charter school capital outlay funds for the following purposes:
(a) Purchase of real property.
(b) Construction of school facilities.
(c) Purchase, lease-purchase, or lease of permanent or relocatable school facilities.
(d) Purchase of vehicles to transport students to and from the charter school.
(e) Renovation, repair, and maintenance of school facilities that the charter school owns or is purchasing through a lease-purchase or long-term lease of 5 years or longer.
(f) Payment of the cost of premiums for property and casualty insurance necessary to insure the school facilities.
(g) Purchase, lease-purchase, or lease of driver’s education vehicles; motor vehicles used for the maintenance or operation of plants and equipment; security vehicles; or vehicles used in storing or distributing materials and equipment.
(h) Purchase, lease-purchase, or lease of computer and device hardware and operating system software necessary for gaining access to or enhancing the use of electronic and digital instructional content and resources; and enterprise resource software applications that are classified as capital assets in accordance with definitions of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, have a useful life of at least 5 years, and are used to support schoolwide administration or state-mandated reporting requirements. Enterprise resource software may be acquired by annual license fees, maintenance fees, or lease agreement.
(i) Payment of the cost of the opening day collection for the library media center of a new school. Conversion charter schools may use capital outlay funds received through the reduction in the administrative fee provided in s. 1002.33(20) for renovation, repair, and maintenance of school facilities that are owned by the sponsor.

The legislature forced us to give our sales tax dollars to charter schools on a per student basis with HB 7097.  It begins on line 1291:
https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/7097/BillText/er/PDF
Quote from the bill HB 7097 beginning at line 1332:
Surtax revenues shared with charter schools shall be expended by the charter school in a manner consistent with the allowable uses set forth in s. 1013.62(4). All revenues and expenditures shall be accounted for in a charter school’s monthly or quarterly financial statement pursuant to s. 1002.33(9). The eligibility of a charter school to receive funds under this subsection shall be determined in accordance with s. 1013.62(1). If a school’s charter is not renewed or is terminated and the school is dissolved under the provisions of law under which the school was organized, any unencumbered funds received under this subsection shall revert​ to the sponsor. [inadequate clawback provisions for encumbered funds]


1013.62(1) (a) To be eligible to receive capital outlay funds, a charter school must:
1.
a. Have been in operation for 2 or more years;
b. Be governed by a governing board established in the state for 2 or more years which operates both charter schools and conversion charter schools within the state;
c. Be an expanded feeder chain of a charter school within the same school district that is currently receiving charter school capital outlay funds;
d. Have been accredited by a regional accrediting association as defined by State Board of Education rule; or
e. Serve students in facilities that are provided by a business partner for a charter school-in-the-workplace pursuant to s. 1002.33(15)(b).
2. Have an annual audit that does not reveal any of the financial emergency conditions provided in s. 218.503(1) for the most recent fiscal year for which such audit results are available.
3. Have satisfactory student achievement based on state accountability standards applicable to the charter school.
4. Have received final approval from its sponsor pursuant to s. 1002.33 for operation during that fiscal year.

Clawback provisions to protect our sales tax dollars

Since the state legislators who voted yes on HB 7097 were re-elected, I am not hopeful that they will pass legislation that will allow us to recoup our sales tax money from charter schools that close. The only clawback provision is for unencumbered funds.

Our window of opportunity to allow the school board to have adequate clawback provisions was to pass the sales tax referendum in 2019. All of the city council knew that and the majority blocked us from being able to pass the referendum in 2019.

Matt Carlucci fought hard for us but he was unable to sway the majority who appear to be indebted to the people profiting from taxpayer funds flowing to the charter school industry.


The city council members, who barred us from voting on the school board’s referendum in 2019, need to take responsibility for allowing the referendum to fall under HB 7097 passed by the state legislature in early 2020 forcing us to give part of our sales tax money to charter schools without adequate clawback provisions in the event the charter school should close. The 2019 version of the sales tax referendum had adequate clawback provisions.

KIPP charter school has applied for a bond to get funds to repay Chartrand and Baker loans. Chartrand donated to Rory Diamond’s nonprofit. Rory Diamond was one of the ones that fought the hardest to prevent us from voting on the referendum in 2019. Connect the dots? Is it wrong to assume Diamond was rewarded for getting Chartrand millions of our sales tax dollars?

Article about Chartrand and Diamond:
https://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/local/k9s-warriors-dedicates-new-resource-center/P7HTVV63L5BKVKJOYPRKV7VKLM/
Keep in mind that the science doesn’t support the claim that these expensive dogs are the best treatment for PTSD.

Begin forwarded message I sent to everyone on the city council:

Subject: 2020-627

I hope all the city council members will have the answers to these questions before they vote on 2020-627.

  1. Does JAKS and McDuff QALICB have any business other than owning and renting real and tangible property? Do they qualify for getting money via this bond? They are not an educational organization. They are a rental company. If I’m wrong, would you please tell me why they are not merely a rental company if their only revenue is lease payments.
  2. Who are the investors/owners of JAKS and McDuff? Who profits from the rent revenue?
  3. I understand that the loan (created by this bond) will be repaid by the rent received from KIPP. Does KIPP plan to make those lease payments with our sales tax money?
  4. Has the school district said a new charter elementary school is needed near 813 Golfair Boulevard?

I am worried that this isn’t an efficient use of our sales tax money when we want the schools over 50 years old to be renovated or rebuilt. I understand the state legislators have tied the hands of our local school board with HB 7097 and other bills but the city council needs to allow the school district’s attorneys to determine if they have the ability to get our sales tax money back if the building proposed by this ordinance is sold or no longer used as a charter school.

According to the audit (see link below), the current KIPP charter school pays rent. They don’t own the buildings. The rental company is the organization that rents the building to KIPP charter school. The audit states that the rent is $850,000 per year paid to JAKS.

Link to audit:
https://www.kippjax.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/KIPP-JACKSONVILLE-K-8-SCHOOL-FINAL-2019_AUDIT.pdf

The city council members, who prevented the voters from voting on the school board’s referendum in 2019, need to take responsibility for allowing the referendum to fall under HB 7097 passed by the state legislature in early 2020 forcing us to give part of our sales tax money to charter schools without adequate clawback provisions in the event the charter school should close.

Is race a social construct?

During a recent 1A episode, they were talking about Kamala’s experience at the majority black Howard University. What are your thoughts on schools that are predominantly black or predominately white?

Certainly de jure segregation (segregation that is enforced by law) is wrong. However, de facto segregation (segregation that occurs without laws but because of other factors) is only wrong in some circumstances?

In my view, even if all schools are equally and adequately funded, there are still reasons that our public school policies should encourage diversity. And by public school policies, I mean the public funding of education.

One value of diversity is that stereotypes are broken down when we interact with people that are different from us. Or at least that’s the hypothesis. Another value in diversity is that more perspectives are brought to light.

If neighborhoods aren’t integrated then it’s difficult for the neighborhood schools to be integrated. Magnet schools were created (at least in Jacksonville, Florida) to stop the court ordered forced busing. The idea was that people would voluntarily bus themselves to attend the magnet school in a de facto segregated neighborhood. In my view, magnet, charter, and voucher funded private schools should all be required to be at least 20% black and at least 20% white. I also question the value of schools segregated by gender so I am opposed to publicly funded same-sex schools.

How do we achieve diversity? How do we eliminate laws and customs that use skin color as a reason to deprive people of benefits that others receive? If we make laws based on the color of someone’s skin, are we perpetuating the myth of race? If we aren’t proactive in reducing racism, will it continue?

Pluralism is represented by the ideal of the United States as a “salad bowl”: a great mixture of different cultures where each culture retains its own identity and yet adds to the flavor of the whole. Assimilation describes the process by which a minority individual or group gives up its own identity by taking on the characteristics of the dominant culture. But can’t there be a little of both? 

One non-liberal commentator, Dinesh D’Souza, appeared on Fox News to question whether Kamala Harris could truly claim she was African-American (or perhaps Dinesh said Black).

23 and Me tells me I’m 1% African. What percentage would you need to be in order to label yourself African-American? What does it mean to label yourself African-American or Black if it has nothing to do with your DNA?

I posted this question in a Facebook group: “How dark does your skin need to be to be considered Black?” One person responded: “Please do not introduce ‘colorism’ into the conversation of who is and is not Black.” I was confused by the comment. Obviously there is a deficit in my understanding of the meaning of the word “Black.”

I have read that race is a social construct and that no coherent, fixed definition of race actually exists. But people are different colors.

People should be allowed to label themselves. That’s one of the reasons I was fascinated by Rachel Dolezal. I read her book and watched a movie about her. I still don’t understand why people were critical of her for labeling herself Black (or was it African-American?). If they liked the way she was running the local chapter of the NAACP, why did it matter that both her parents were white?

I just finished reading “How to be an Antiracist.” He talks about the problem with assimilation. However, I’m still thinking that some assimilation is a good thing. If we want to be successful, then don’t we need to speak the language of the dominant culture in the community where we live?

References:
https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/what-we-mean-when-we-say-race-is-a-social-construct/275872/

https://opentextbc.ca/introsociology2eopenstax/chapter/intergroup-relationships/

Is race a social construct?

During a recent 1A episode, they were talking about Kamala’s experience at the majority black Howard University. What are your thoughts on schools that are predominantly black or predominately white?

Certainly de jure segregation (segregation that is enforced by law) is wrong. However, de facto segregation (segregation that occurs without laws but because of other factors) is only wrong in some circumstances.

Even if all schools are equally and adequately funded, there are still reasons that our public school policies should encourage diversity. And by public school policies, I mean the public funding of education.

One value of diversity is that stereotypes are broken down when we interact with people that are different from us. Or at least that’s the hypothesis. Another value in diversity is that more perspectives are brought to light.

If neighborhoods aren’t integrated then it’s difficult for the neighborhood schools to be integrated. Magnet schools were created (at least in Jacksonville, Florida) to stop the court ordered forced busing. The idea was that people would voluntarily bus themselves to attend the magnet school in a de facto segregated neighborhood. In my view, magnet, charter, and voucher funded private schools should all be required to be at least 20% black and at least 20% white.

 

How do we achieve diversity and not use skin color to deprive people of benefits that others receive? Why does something like skin color have any meaning at all? And if we make laws based on the color of someone’s skin, are we perpetuating the myth of race? If we aren’t pro-active in reducing racism, will it continue? Or are we making it worse by continually talking about it?

How do we achieve diversity and not use skin color to deprive people of benefits that others receive? Why does something like skin color have any meaning at all? And if we make laws based on the color of someone’s skin, are we perpetuating the myth of race? If we aren’t pro-active in reducing racism, will it continue? Or are we making it worse by continually talking about it?

I’d like to learn more about the concepts of assimilation vs pluralism. Pluralism is represented by the ideal of the United States as a “salad bowl”: a great mixture of different cultures where each culture retains its own identity and yet adds to the flavor of the whole. Assimilation describes the process by which a minority individual or group gives up its own identity by taking on the characteristics of the dominant culture.  But can’t there be a little of both?
 

References:

  1. https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/what-we-mean-when-we-say-race-is-a-social-construct/275872/
  2. https://opentextbc.ca/introsociology2eopenstax/chapter/intergroup-relationships/