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

Charter Schools

Why is the current state legislature passing unfunded mandates that the district run schools must follow but other publicly funded schools don’t have to follow?

1002.33 Charter schools

(16) EXEMPTION FROM STATUTES
(a) A charter school shall operate in accordance with its charter and shall be exempt from all statutes in chapters 1000-1013. However, a charter school shall be in compliance with the following statutes in chapters 1000-1013:

1003.42 seems to indicate that charter schools don’t have to follow these rules:

(2) Members of the instructional staff of the public schools, subject to the rules of the State Board of Education and the district school board, shall teach efficiently and faithfully, using the books and materials required that meet the highest standards for professionalism and historical accuracy, following the prescribed courses of study, and employing approved methods of instruction, the following:

Talking points to oppose HB 1079

Great summary of last week’s committee meeting;
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20200122/bill-for-elected-duval-schools-superintendent-advances-in-legislature

HB 1079 is being heard: Tuesday, January 28, 2020 3:30 PM  in room 102 House Building


I think we should first say a short description of why we’re here. This is what I’ll say:
My father was in the Navy.  I went to public schools all over the United States of America.  My daughter and I graduated from Jacksonville public high schools. I feel very grateful for my public education and for my daughter’s public education. That is why I am here today.


Option one
I think the best way to have the most qualified superintendent is for the school board to interview, hire, and fire (if needed) the top administrator of the school district.

Just as the JEA board (a Jacksonville board currently appointed by our mayor) hires the top administrator, the school board needs to continue to hire the top administrator. Incompetent or unethical administrators can be removed immediately as the JEA board did with the JEA top administrator Aaron Zahn. Perhaps the board removed Zahn due to local public outcry, but still the point is that it was possible to immediately remove him. It is more difficult to remove elected officials.

The local city council can put things on our ballot. As a matter of fact, they are contemplating putting something on our ballot to change the way the JEA board is appointed.  I hope that will be on our ballot soon, but it might not make it onto our ballot until November 2020.

The point is that we’ll have lots of things on our November 2020 ballot without this horrible attack on home rule being added to my city’s ballot by the state legislature.

HB 1079 is in violation of the local bill manual which says local bills should not be used if the purpose can be accomplished at the local level.  Things can be put on our city’s ballot by the city council, the school board, and by citizen initiatives.

Senator Gibson and Representative Davis of the Duval Delegation voted no on J-1. I thank them for their no vote.  The required economic impact statement completed by Jason Fischer and the OGC should have included the cost of educating the voting public about the issue. Democracy only works when the voters understand the ramifications of their vote. We do not want taxpayer dollars and energy wasted on unnecessary ballot proposals and campaigns.


Option two

Our elected school board members are elected specifically to represent the public interest in our education system. The voters have given them the authority to make decisions specifically about our school district. The school board passed a resolution opposing J-1 (HB 1079).

Under our County Charter we have the authority in our jurisdiction to make the change suggested by HB 1079 if it is ever desired.  However there is not now, nor has there ever been community outcry for this bill or its intent.

Please vote no on HB 1079. This local bill is a horrible attack on home rule.


Option 3

HB 1079 is in violation of the local bill manual which says local bills should not be used if the purpose can be accomplished at the local level.  Things can be put on our city’s ballot by the city council, the school board, and by citizen initiatives.

Our school board plans to put on our Jacksonville ballot in November 2020 an item that will allow us to raise funds to renovate or replace district owned school buildings that have lasted over 50 years.  As you may know, school districts all over Florida have passed these referendums because the state has cut funding for capital outlay funding going to district owned school buildings.

In addition to the school board’s referendum on our November 2020 ballot, state citizen initiatives will be on our ballot.

As an aside: Please don’t vote yes on any of the bills before the current legislature that will make it harder to get citizen initiatives on the ballot. Citizen initiatives with huge support are a great way for the people’s voices to be heard.

Three initiative campaigns have, thus far, qualified to go before voters in November’s general election – Florida For A Fair Wage’s “Fight For $15”; an “open” primary proposal for state Legislature, Governor and Cabinet; and a constitutional amendment stipulating “only,” rather than “any,” U.S. citizen can legally vote. Two other prospective amendments still vying to meet the signature requirements by Feb. 1 – Ban All Assault Weapons’ and Make it Legal Florida—may also be on our ballot.

The point is that we’ll have lots of things on our November 2020 ballot without this horrible attack on home rule being added to my city’s ballot by the state legislature.

Please vote no on HB 1079. This local bill is a horrible attack on home rule.


Option four
I want our elected school board to continue to be able to conduct a nationwide search for a qualified superintendent with the academic credentials, skills and experience necessary to run a large school district. (128,000 PLUS STUDENTS, 14,000 EDUCATORS AND STAFF).

If Representative Fischer brings up the UNF poll in his closing arguments as he did in last week’s committee meeting, I hope you will do your own research on it. As Mike Binder, director of the Public Opinion Research Lab, mentioned in an article, the question was poorly worded and could have misled respondents. Plus the poll only included about 600 people that answered their phones.

Please vote no on HB 1079. This local bill is a horrible attack on home rule.


Option 5

I hope Representative Fischer will let us know in his closing arguments who in the Duval Delegation voted yes on the amendment to HB 1079. Amendments to Duval local bills have to be approved by the majority of the Duval Delegation before the amendment can be presented to the state legislative committee according to the local bills manual.

 Without approval of the amendment, HB 1079 was in violation of Florida’s Constitution Article IX Section 5. The fact that the amendment was needed to bring HB 1079 into compliance with Florida’s Constitution was a clear sign the bill wasn’t properly vetted and I thought it may have caused some on the Duval Delegation who originally voted yes on J-1 (Clay Yarborough, Aaron Bean, Cord Byrd, Wyman Duggan, and Kimberly Daniels) to withdraw their support for HB 1079 and vote no on the amendment.

 Please vote no on HB 1079. This local bill is a horrible attack on home rule.

Please tell the city council to put the school board’s referendum on our ballot

I hope the city council will monitor the lawsuits brought by the school board and the parents of crumbling schools to determine if Jason Gabriel gave them bad advice. If the city council will signal to the school board that they’ll put the school board’s referendum on our ballot, I assume the school board will resubmit it to the city council.  Judge Wilkinson’s comments as quoted in a TU article:

Wilkinson said the school district has its own taxing authority and School Board. “Isn’t that a major division?” he asked. “Even the charter says its a separate body.” … “Which brings us back to the start of this,” Wilkinson said, arguing that just because School Board officers qualify as county officers doesn’t mean they’re subject to city control.

People elected the school board specifically to improve and monitor the public school system. The legislature nor the city council were elected with such a pin-pointed goal. Why do the city council and the legislature keep trying to usurp the authority of the elected school board?

Below are comments about Fischer’s J-1 bills. I would think the city council would be worried about this also. Does the Duval Delegation want to usurp the authority of the elected city council?

As of now, the below email outlines the gist of what I plan to say on November 1st at the Duval Delegation meeting which is:

Article VIII Section 6(e) says that Section 9 is no longer valid since consolidated Jacksonville has a charter. And that means that both versions of Jason Fischer’s J-1 bills have no authority. In order words, the Duval Legislative Delegation doesn’t have the authority to request that the state legislature change our city’s charter or put items on our city’s ballot. I have asked repeatedly what gives Jason Fischer the idea that he can ask the state legislature to put things on our city’s ballot or change our city’s charter. The only thing I have been told is that it is Article VIII Section 9. But Article VIII Section 9 is no longer valid since we have a charter.

I understand most people at the Duval Delegation meeting will be making the point that keeping the Superintendent appointed by the elected school board is best for our city. I agree with that premise,

However, I think the main danger of both versions of Fischer’s J-1 bill is that he thinks he can get the state legislature to change our charter and that Jacksonville is unique in that way.

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Susan
Date: Sun, Oct 27, 2019 at 10:32 AM
Subject: Please answer my simple question: Do you know what parts of Article VIII were changed in 2018?
To: <gibson.audrey@flsenate.gov>, <bean.aaron@flsenate.gov>, <tracie.davis@myfloridahouse.gov>, Daniels, Kimberly <kimberly.daniels@myfloridahouse.gov>, <cord.byrd@myfloridahouse.gov>, <clay.yarborough@myfloridahouse.gov>, <wyman.duggan@myfloridahouse.gov>, Voellmecke, Lenae <lvoellmecke@coj.net>

Do you know what parts of Article VIII were changed in 2018?
I googled and found this:

Senate Joint Resolution 5-2X proposed a new Article VIII, relating to local government … Revision No. 5, 2018, filed with the Secretary of State May 9, 2018; adopted 2018.

This is how Article VIII Section 6 begins

SECTION 6. Schedule to Article VIII.—
(a) This article shall replace all of Article VIII of the Constitution of 1885, as amended, except those sections expressly retained and made a part of this article by reference.

This is how 6(e) reads now:

(e) CONSOLIDATION AND HOME RULE. Article VIII, Sections 19, 210, 311 and 424, of the Constitution of 1885, as amended, shall remain in full force and effect as to each county affected, as if this article had not been adopted, until that county shall expressly adopt a charter or home rule plan pursuant to this article. All provisions of the Metropolitan Dade County Home Rule Charter, heretofore or hereafter adopted by the electors of Dade County pursuant to 3Article VIII, Section 11, of the Constitution of 1885, as amended, shall be valid, and any amendments to such charter shall be valid; provided that the said provisions of such charter and the said amendments thereto are authorized under said 3Article VIII, Section 11, of the Constitution of 1885, as amended.

I continue to posit that Article VIII Section 6(e) says that Section 9 is no longer valid since consolidated Jacksonville has a charter. And that means that both versions of Jason Fischer’s J-1 bills have no authority. In order words, I posit that the Duval Legislative Delegation doesn’t have the authority to request that the state legislature change our city’s charter or put items on our city’s ballot. If I’m wrong, please tell me why. I have asked repeatedly what gives Jason Fischer the idea that he can ask the state legislature to put things on our city’s ballot or change our city’s charter. The only thing I have been told is that it is Article VIII Section 9. But Article VIII Section 9 is no longer valid since we have a charter. If I’m wrong, please tell me why.

Thank you,
Susan Aertker

A Rally in Support of Public Schools

Rally begins 8 am on September 20th. I will have posters to share. Bring your own or borrow one of my posters.

Details at this link:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/protest-rally-fl-board-of-education-meeting-in-duval-stop-harming-public-schools-tickets-7210080444

 I will have 5 choices to share with people who didn’t bring their own poster:

1. If the rules aren’t necessary, why make any school follow them? If they are necessary, why are you exempting charter schools and private schools that receive voucher money?

2. Place a lien on property receiving public funds so the money can be recouped if the charter school closes.

3. Money is what made a difference in Jefferson County. Don’t starve our neighborhood schools

4. Support SB 56: A 2020 non-discrimination bill

5. Florida Statute 1003.42 (g) should apply to all publicly funded schools including private schools receiving voucher money.

Extra information about the posters.

Poster 2:
Florida Statute 1002.33 says “district school board property,” but what if the building and land are owned by private investors even though the public funded the purchase? We need legislation that says that any private investor, receiving funds to build or renovate privately owned buildings, must agree to a lien on the property so the school district can recoup the tax money in the event the charter school closes and/or the property is sold.
Even a supporter of charter schools has called for claw back provisions. A caller asks around minute 28 in the podcast at the below link: “What will happen to the profits if the building and land are sold?” Mr. Chartrand dodges the question, but Ms. Miller says there should be claw back provisions. Also please listen starting at minute 42 when the interviewer questions Chartrand’s dedication to quality education based on his actions when he was chair of Florida’s Board of Education.
https://news.wjct.org/post/81919-democrats-call-investigation-mayors-office-jax-civic-council-cole-pepper

Poster 3:
Quote from this article:
What’s obscured in the misleading narrative, though, is that Somerset’s new charter schools in Jefferson County have had millions of dollars more to work with than what was previously available to the traditional public school district there.
https://chartered.wlrn.org/millions-difference-somerset-charters/

Poster 4:
Florida Senator Darryl Rouson introduced SB 56 for the 2020 legislative session. The bill will add the following language to the Florida statutes (f.s.):
A private school participating in an educational scholarship program … may not deny enrollment to a student based on the student’s race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity;

Poster 5:
Excerpts from Florida Statute 1003.42 Required instruction.—

(1) Each district school board shall provide all courses required …
(2) Members of the instructional staff of the public schools … shall teach efficiently and faithfully, using the books and materials required that meet the highest standards for professionalism and historical accuracy …
(g) The history of the Holocaust (1933-1945), the systematic, planned annihilation of European Jews and other groups by Nazi Germany, a watershed event in the history of humanity,to be taught in a manner that leads to an investigation of human behavior, an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and an examination of 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 and institutions.

public education