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.

How Do We Prevent Hate Crimes?

Did you know that all publicly funded schools are not required to obey the following two Florida statutes dealing with nondiscrimination and tolerance? Currently only the district-run schools are required to follow both.

**Excerpt from f.s.1000.05—
Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, religion, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public K-20 education is prohibited.

**Excerpt from f.s. 1003.42 (g)—
[a required course that will teach] …… 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.

There are two bills before our Florida Senate (with companion bills in the House) that will help correct the problem:

**SB 184 (HB 91) will make clear that f.s. 1003.42(g) must apply to charter schools and private schools receiving voucher money in addition to the district run schools.

**SB 56 (HB 45) will make clear that private schools can’t receive voucher money if they discriminate against the minorities mentioned in f.s. 1000.05.

Our state Constitution requires free public schools for the children of Florida, but our elected officials are not consistent with what they mean by “public schools.” Many of our laws defined the rules for “public schools” at a time when the term meant only the neighborhood schools. If our Florida Legislature is going to continue to give our taxpayer dollars to charter schools and private schools, then those schools need to be required to follow the same nondiscrimination laws that our neighborhood schools must follow.

The organization that administers Florida’s growing array of voucher programs — Step Up For Students — insists it has no legal basis to deny voucher money to private schools that discriminate against minority groups.

SB 56 will give Step-Up-For-Students the legal basis to deny voucher money to private schools that discriminate against the minority groups mentioned in f.s. 1000.05.

A Florida statute— 1002.33 (16)—already demands charter schools follow the nondiscrimination statute. In other words, SB 56 will make it so all publicly funded schools are forbidden from discriminating against the minority groups mentioned in f.s. 1000.05.

Florida Education Commissioner Corcoran in his letter to a superintendent about the teaching of the Holocaust mentioned “public schools” twice. His letter was concerning f.s. 1003.42 (g). The way I read his letter, he thinks it is an important course. However, f.s. 1003.42 (g) only applies to the district-run schools. SB 184 (if it passes) will require any school receiving public funds to follow f.s. 1003.42(g).

If legislators are going to continue to use your tax dollars to fund charter schools and private schools, then those schools need to follow the same nondiscrimination laws that neighborhood schools must follow. The nondiscrimination laws should apply to all publicly funded schools.

References and suggestions for further reading

Ref 1 Article IX in Florida’s Constitution
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3#A9

Excerpt:  The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education

Ref 2 Articles about how private schools receiving taxpayer funded vouchers discriminate.
https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/editorials/os-op-florida-vouchers-disciminate-gay-students-20190706-3qbgvqro6jcd7of6hf4c4b3eim-story.html

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/scott-maxwell-commentary/os-op-florida-voucher-schools-disability-discrimination-scott-maxwell-20190806-rhcz7qtgufamnd7zwrogqloebe-story.html

Ref 3 Corcoran’s letter about the Holocaust course

http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/35/urlt/HolocaustLetter-July2019.pdf

Ref 4 Articles about the necessity for teaching the Holocaust

https://www.adl.org/blog/empowering-educators-to-discuss-hard-topics

https://florida.adl.org/news/adl-trains-south-palm-beach-county-principals-with-multimedia-holocaust-curriculum/

http://www.flHolocausteducationtaskforce.org/classroom-resources/

Ref 6 Quote from article: “The medical community has long concluded that homosexuality is largely genetically-driven, not a matter of choice.”

https://floridapolitics.com/archives/302854-draft-for-monday-push-on-to-ban-conversion-therapy-in-orange-county

Ref 7 HB 741 passed last legislative session unanimously. The discussion of the bill called antisemitism discussed the teaching of the holocaust. It also added religion to the list in f.s. 1000.05.

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00741

Ref 8 Florida’s Tax Credit Scheme allows some businesses to divert dollar for dollar their tax liability money to a private school. Read more:

https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2019/02/15/gov-ron-desantis-reveals-plan-to-eliminate-scholarship-wait-list/

Ref 9 More about HB 91 and SB 184:

https://www.gainesville.com/opinion/20190917/editorial-expand-study-of-holocaust-to-all-schools

Ref 10 Quote from MOSH curator Paul Bourcie:
“…We’re seeing domestic terrorism happening to all kinds of people branded as the Other. We see systems in place that put certain communities at a disadvantage. Can it be that we’re looking at something systemic that hearkens back to the racial violence of the past?”
http://folioweekly.com/stories/warts-all,21834