HB 611 and SB 146 in 2021-civics education

Here’s what HB 611 would add to Florida statute 1003.44 if it passes:
(5)(a) The commissioner shall develop minimum criteria for
19 a civic literacy practicum that helps students evaluate the
20 roles, rights, and responsibilities of United States citizens
21 and identify effective methods of active participation in
22 society, government, and the political system. The practicum may
23 be incorporated into a school’s curriculum for the high school
24 United States Government course under s. 1003.4282(3)(d)
25 beginning in the 2022-2023 school year.
(b) The purpose of the practicum is to inspire meaningful
27 civic engagement and help students learn how governmental
28 entities at the local, state, or federal level interact with the
29 public which they represent and serve. The practicum must
30 provide students with an opportunity to be civically engaged
31 through any of the following activities:
32 1. Participation in an unpaid internship at a governmental
33 entity.
34 2. A series of simulations or observations of one or more
35 governmental entities performing their core functions in
36 relation to the public. Such functions may include
37 administrative, legislative, or judicial functions and other
38 official business conducted by a governmental entity.
39 3. Learning about the United States citizenship
40 naturalization process and attending a United States citizenship
41 naturalization oath ceremony.
42 (c) The practicum must require a student to complete a
43 research paper that must include all of the following:
44 1. Reflection on the student’s experience participating in
45 the civic engagement activity.
46 2. Explanation of the significance of the governmental
47 entity’s role in the student’s community, the state, or the
48 nation.
49 3. Explanation of how the governmental entity is
50 responsive to the public.
51 (d) The hours outside of classroom instruction that a
52 student devotes to an unpaid civic engagement activity under
53 paragraph (b) may count toward the community service
54 requirements for participation in the Florida Bright Futures
55 Scholarship Program. School districts are encouraged to include
56 and accept civic literacy practicum activities and hours toward
57 requirements for academic awards, especially those awards that
58 include community service as a criterion or selection factor.

This is what SB 146 will add to 1003.44:
(5)(a) In order to help students evaluate the roles,  rights, and responsibilities of United States citizens and determine methods of active participation in society, government, and the political system, the commissioner shall develop minimum criteria for a nonpartisan civic literacy
practicum that may be incorporated into a school’s curriculum for the high school United States Government course required by s. 1003.4282(3)(d), beginning with the 2022-2023 school year.
[line 33]  The commissioner also shall develop a process by which a district school board can verify that a student successfully completed a practicum meeting those criteria.
   1. The criteria must require a student to do all of the following:
   a. Identify a civic issue that impacts his or her
   community.
   b. Rigorously research the issue from multiple perspectives and develop a plan for his or her personal involvement in addressing the issue.
   c. Create a portfolio to evaluate and reflect upon his or her experience and the outcomes or likely outcomes of his or her involvement. A portfolio must, at minimum, include research,  evidence, and a written plan of involvement.
 2. A civic literacy practicum must be nonpartisan, focus on addressing at least one community issue, and promote a student’s ability to consider differing points of view and engage in civil discourse with individuals who hold an opposing opinion.
(b) The hours outside of classroom instruction which a student devotes to the nonpartisan civic literacy practicum to implement his or her plan of involvement may be counted toward meeting the community service requirements of the Florida Bright
Futures Scholarship Program. School districts must include and accept nonpartisan civic literacy practicum activities and hours in requirements for academic awards, especially those awards that include community service as a criterion or selection factor.
(c) The State Board of Education shall annually designate each public school in this state which provides students with high-quality civic learning, including civic-engagement skills, as a Freedom School. The state board shall establish the criteria for a school’s designation as a Freedom School. The
criteria must include all of the following:
1. The extent to which strategies to develop high-quality civic learning, including civic-engagement skills, are integrated into the classroom using best instructional practices.
2. The scope of integration of high-quality civic learning, including civic-engagement skills, across the school’s curricula.
3. The extent to which the school supports interdisciplinary, teacher-led professional learning communities to support continuous improvement in instruction and student achievement.
4. The minimum percentage of students graduating with a standard high school diploma who must successfully complete a civic literacy practicum and earn community service hours as provided in this subsection.

Note that HB 611 says nothing about nonpartisan whereas its companion bill SB 146 does mention nonpartisan.

2021 new civics education bills

As of February 19, 2021 there are two pairs of bills to change the required civics education course.
One pair which I’m discussing below:
HB 5 https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=72012&SessionId=90
SB 1450 https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2021/1450

This is the other pair:
SB 146 https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2021/146
HB 611 https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=70926&SessionId=90

It was reported in this article that Ivanka Trump called the people who stormed the Capitol by the term “patriot”
https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/30/us/patriot-definition-trnd/index.html

HB 5 and SB 1450 are identical, i.e. they are companion bills for the House and the Senate.

This is what will be added to the Florida Statute 1003.4282 by HB 5:
which must include a comparative discussion of political ideologies, such as communism and totalitarianism, that conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy essential to the founding principles of the United States. 
  This is what will be added to Florida Statute 1003.44--Patriotic programs—by HB 5:
   34         (6) To help families, civic institutions, local
   35  communities, district school boards, and charter schools prepare
   36  students to be civically responsible and knowledgeable adults,
   37  the Department of Education shall:
   38         (a) Develop or approve an integrated civic education
   39  curriculum that school districts and charter schools must
   40  incorporate as part of regular school work in kindergarten
   41  through grade 12. The civic education curriculum must assist
   42  students in developing:
   43         1. An understanding of their shared rights and
   44  responsibilities as residents of the state and of the founding
   45  principles of the United States as described in s.
   46  1003.42(2)(a)-(c).
   47         2. A sense of civic pride and desire to participate
   48  regularly with government at the local, state, and federal
   49  levels.
   50         3. An understanding of the process for effectively
   51  advocating before government bodies and officials.
   52         4. An understanding of the civic-minded expectations,
   53  developed by the State Board of Education, of an upright and
   54  desirable citizenry that recognizes and accepts responsibility
   55  for preserving and defending the blessings of liberty inherited
   56  from prior generations and secured by the United States
   57  Constitution.
   58         (b) Curate oral history resources to be used along with the
   59  civic education curriculum which provide portraits in patriotism
   60  based on the personal stories of diverse individuals who
   61  demonstrate civic-minded qualities, including first-person
   62  accounts of victims of other nations’ governing philosophies who
   63  can compare those philosophies with those of the United States.
   64  This paragraph may be cited as the “Portraits in Patriotism
   65  Act.”
   66         (c) Approve integrated civic education curricula submitted
   67  by school districts and charter schools that meet the
   68  requirements of this subsection.

I sent this to the bill sponsors of HB 5/SB 1450

Please amend your bill so that 1003.44 applies to all publicly funded schools including schools receiving vouchers authorized by SB 48.

Please amend your bill to make it clear that  the courses mentioned in 1003.4282 are required of all students wishing to receive a high school diploma in Florida. There should be no exceptions for any of the certificates that call themselves high school diplomas: http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/18617/urlt/1819-114025.pdf

I applaud you for including charter schools in your requirements that amend 1003.44 but why didn’t you include all publicly funded schools?  Since the majority of the current state legislators seem determined (via SB 48)  to give more and more of our taxpayer dollars to private schools and homeschooling parents, you need to consider why you’re mandating something for some publicly funded schools but not for others. What schools did the people that stormed the Capitol go to? What school did Ivanka Trump go to? It was reported that Ivanka Trump tweeted a message calling the people who stormed the Capitol by the term “patriot” and we heard the domestic terrorists inside the Capitol calling themselves patriots in the videos that have been released to the public. Why did they think storming the Capitol was a patriotic thing to do? Your bill should be required of all publicly funded schools.   The term patriot is discussed in this article:
https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/30/us/patriot-definition-trnd/index.html

Is your bill an attempt to make it clear that the people who stormed the Capitol are not patriots, i.e. they are domestic terrorists?

Are ALL students who want a standard high school diploma required to take the courses listed at  f.s. 1003.4282?  Are students who receive taxpayer funded vouchers required to satisfy the requirements of 1003.4282? Link to Florida statute that includes 1003.4282 : http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=1000-1099/1003/1003.html
Here’s how 1003.4282 begins:
(1) TWENTY-FOUR CREDITS REQUIRED.—(a) Beginning with students entering grade 9 in the 2013-2014 school year, receipt of a standard high school diploma requires successful completion of 24 credits, an International Baccalaureate curriculum, or an Advanced International Certificate of Education curriculum.
[and then later it says}
The Department of Education shall directly and through the school districts notify registered private schools of public high school course credit and assessment requirements. Each private school must make this information available to students and their parents so they are aware of public high school graduation requirements.

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

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

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.

Are magnet, charter, and vouchers accomplishing the goals that they were created to achieve?

Here is a quote from How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi:

When integrationists use segregation and separation interchangeably, they are using the vocabulary of Jim Crow.

In 1896 The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) in Plessy v. Ferguson said separate but equal was OK. ¹ I think Ibram X Kendi would say that they actually meant segregated since the separation was mandated.  However, the Supreme Court and the policy makers did not do anything to make sure racially segregated public schools were equal to one another. That led to the Supreme Court ruling, in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, that said segregated public schools were now illegal.

However, the problem was that the Supreme Court and the policy makers made no effort to make sure all publicly funded schools were equal.  In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, SCOTUS ruled that busing was an appropriate remedy for the problem of racial imbalance in schools, even when the imbalance resulted from the selection of students based on geographic proximity to the school rather than from deliberate assignment based on race.

Another blow to equal schools came in 1973 with the SCOTUS opinion in Antonio Independent School district v. Rodriquez. ² The court had the opportunity to rule that all schools won’t be equal if they aren’t properly funded, but they didn’t rule that way. They allowed schools in poorer neighborhoods to receive less funding than schools in richer neighborhoods. They concluded that busing was the answer not adequately funding each neighborhood school.

No one liked forced busing so the hybrid method of voluntary busing (magnet and charters and vouchers) was created. But we need to require that those publicly funded schools outside one’s neighborhood are racially diverse.

Magnet schools were formed to allow Jacksonville to get out of the Federal rules requiring busing to achieve racial diversity. ³ Quote from this article:

The CSA established “a desegregative goal of at least 20% black students and 45% white students” … The Board was required, with community input, to implement and aggressively promote magnet programs as incentives to attract white students to these schools. … The Board was also required to commit $60,000,000 for the “renovation, substantial rehabilitation, or replacement of core city schools.”

Another excerpt from How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi:

The courts have reinforced the legitimacy of integrated White spaces that hoard public resources … To be an antiracist is to champion resource equity by challenging the racist policies that produce resource inequity. … What really made the schools unequal were the dramatically unequal resources provided to them.

Kendi goes on to say that one of the goals of desegregation should be to help the different races get along, to overcome any innate bias against one another, to try to eradicate the hate embedded in the White Supremacists rhetoric.

This was one of the questions JPEF asked the candidates running for a school board position during the forum/debate (Ref 4) :

Do you think magnet and charter schools should be required to have a certain level of racial diversity? If yes, how can that be accomplished?

This is how I would answer but I’m not running:

Magnet schools were formed to allow Jacksonville to get out of the Federal rules requiring busing to achieve racial diversity.  We need to require all charter schools, magnet schools, and private schools that receive voucher money to reflect the racial diversity of the city. Each of those schools (charter, magnet, and voucher funded private schools) need to aggressively recruit students so they can achieve a certain level of racial diversity. Each school should be at least 20% black and at least 20% white. If the school has a magnet program but is predominately attracting kids from the neighborhood, then it isn’t a magnet school.

The law that once required kids to only go to schools in their neighborhood has been abandoned.  Kids can go to any school in the district if they can provide their own transportation but priority is given to the kids in the neighborhood.

Every neighborhood school should have programs in the arts, music, debate, etc. Every neighborhood school should be great! And every neighborhood school should be adequately funded. And every neighborhood school and magnet school should make it a priority to teach what it means to be “a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society and for nurturing and protecting democratic values” per Florida Statute 1003.42 (2)(g). (Ref 5)

I  hope the Florida legislature will pass something similar to SB 184 (Ref 6) next legislative session so that charter schools and private schools receiving voucher money will also have to teach the course required by 1003.42 (2)(g). (Ref 5)

There should be an exception to the racial diversity requirement for magnet schools for kids with special needs since those schools accept kids based on a disability.

If magnet schools and charter schools and vouchers were created to address the desire to ban segregation, then don’t we need guidelines to make sure those schools are racially diverse? If the goal of those “choices” has changed, what are the new goals? How do we determine if they are meeting those new goals?

Quote from a powerful speech by Martin Luther King, Jr (Ref 7):

All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful.

Neighborhood schools can’t be considered equal if neighborhood schools in poorer neighborhoods aren’t adequately funded. As we are trying to learn how to correct the long term negative ramifications of segregation, I hope we don’t destroy the neighborhood school as the privatization movement seems determined to do. (Ref 9) . We need to be clear about our goals so that our actions work to achieve that goal.

Because most public schools are the hubs of their communities, not only for educational engagement but also for civic activity, they are a sacred public trust where Americans become socialized and develop their sense of belonging, identity and purpose. In essence, public schools hold immense symbolic capital. (Ref 8)

It’s difficult to achieve racial diversity in a neighborhood school unless the boundaries are drawn to create racial diversity. The TU Editorial Board opinion piece about scatter housing offers an idea, but would that truly achieve racial diversity? (Ref 10) Or would that just create another avenue for the rich to use taxpayer money to fund their private investments as the charter school movement has done? (Ref 11) What about having zoning restrictions requiring each school zone to have a combination of expensive, moderate, and low income housing?

Ref 1. Link to article about the case:
https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/plessy-v-ferguson

Ref 2. Link to article about Antonio Independent School district v. Rodriquez:
https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/411/1

Ref 3. Link to lawsuit creating magnet schools in Duval County:
https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-11th-circuit/1136224.html

Reference 14 in that article reads:
“Magnet schools, as generally understood, are public schools designed to promote integration by voluntarily drawing students away from their neighborhoods and private schools …”

Ref 4. Link to Duval County School Board Candidate debates sponsored by JPEF:
https://www.jaxpef.org/advocacy-center/school-board-elections

Ref 5. Link to Florida Statute 1003.42 (2)(g)
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=1000-1099/1003/Sections/1003.42.html

Ref 6. Link to 2020-SB 184
https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/184/BillText/Filed/PDF

Ref 7. Link to Martin Luther King, Jr speech:
https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

Ref 8. Link to the tolerance.org quote:
https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/fall-2019/black-students-and-educators-at-confederatenamed-schools

Ref 9. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/05/30/what-and-who-is-fueling-the-movement-to-privatize-public-education-and-why-you-should-care/

Ref 10.  https://www.jacksonville.com/opinion/20200716/scattered-housing

Ref 11. https://medium.com/in-the-public-interest/charter-schools-are-a-hot-real-estate-market-and-thats-bad-for-students-153fe8554bb4

 

 

November 2020 Referendum

I will vote yes on the referendum in November 2020 because the neighborhood schools need the renovations. 

I am still angry at the city council members who didn’t let us vote on this referendum in 2019. If we had voted on this in 2019, then the renovations could be happening now (2020) while the kids are out of school due to Covid-19 pandemic. (ref 1)

I am voting yes on the sales tax referendum because

  •  Most of the sales tax money generated by the referendum will go towards renovating old neighborhood school buildings and building new facilities up to code to replace temporary structures housing overflow. (ref 3)
  • The state legislature has decreased funding for many years which has prevented the school board from doing these renovations. This dedicated revenue source is needed
  • The increase in the sales tax is small.  If I spend $3,000 on taxable items per year, then I will pay into the fund $15 per year.  $3,000 times .005 equals $15.

I do have questions about the effect of HB 7097 (which was signed into law by the Governor and requires part of the discretionary sales tax to be given to charter schools). I have written (but have not heard back) my state representatives asking these questions:

1. What claw back provisions are part of Florida statutes that will allow the school district to get the money back in the event the charter school should close?
2. Does the sales tax collected have to be given to a charter school every year based on its prior year enrollment? What are the rules on how that charter school can spend the money?
3. If  the state legislature rescinds the bad part of HB 7097 in a future legislative session, will Duval County still be bound by the sharing rule since that’s what we’ll be voting on?

I am angry at the state representatives who voted yes on HB 7097 because that bill included wording which forces us to give part of our sales tax money to private investors who own buildings housing charter schools.

If we had been allowed to vote on the referendum in 2019, we would not have to adhere to the sharing rule forced on us by HB 7097 which only applies to referendums approved in November 2020 and after. Everyone knew that was coming based on the make up of our current state legislature so most of us think that is why the city council wouldn’t let us vote on the referendum in 2019. I am mad about that also.

What exactly will be on our Jacksonville November 2020 ballot? (ref 5)

I hope that something similar to this will be included in the referendum that appears on our ballot:

The school board intends that the public interest be protected by preventing the financial enrichment of owners, operators, managers, and other affiliated parties of charter schools receiving capital outlay funding. Therefore, a charter school additionally is not eligible for a funding allocation unless the chair of the governing board and the chief administrative officer of the charter school annually certify under oath that the funds will be used solely and exclusively for constructing, renovating, or improving charter school facilities that are owned by a school district, a political subdivision of the state, a municipality, a Florida College System institution, or a state university.

I assume the sales tax money can’t be used to build new charter schools since only charter schools with enrollment get a percentage but I haven’t been able to confirm that.

Ref 1 You can find the names of the city council members who stopped us from being able to vote on the referendum at this link:
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190827/city-council-rebuffs-school-boards-request-for-sales-tax-referendum

Ref 2 I read this article but it didn’t answer my questions:
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20200414/schools-tax-referendum-will-be-on-november-ballot

Ref 3  Article about portable class rooms:
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190614/duval-schools-superintendent-wants-to-eliminate-portable-classrooms

Ref 4 Information about HB 7097 including who voted yes
https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/7097

Ref 5 Duval County School District website about the referendum
https://www.ourduvalschools.org/

Ref 6 This is what will be on our  November 3, 2020 ballot:
School Capital Outlay Sales Surtax to Improve Safety and the Learning Environment
​To upgrade aging schools through repairs and modernization, to keep schools safe and to continue to promote a conducive learning environment, to improve technology, and to replace existing or build new schools, 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?
____ For the Half-Cent Tax
____ Against the Half-Cent Tax
Copied from:
https://www.ourduvalschools.org/post/what-would-happen-if-voters-do-not-approve-the-half-penny-sales-tax-for-education