Budget bill awaiting governor's signiture could close low-performing public schools

Bill has yet to reach governor's desk

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A bill passed by the Florida Legislature and awaiting Gov. Scott's signature could close low-performing public schools in Duval County and across the state.

In a recent public statement, Scott said he was reviewing the bill.

On Friday, Scott vetoed the $11.4 billion share of the Legislature's budget that funded public education. The veto came after education advocates said the Legislature had not provided enough money for public schools in the new budget.

That veto means lawmakers will have to pass a new Florida education finance program bill during next week's special session. Scott and legislative leaders have agreed to add $215 million to the program, increasing per-student spending by some $100 in the coming academic year.

“That should offset, completely, the financial impact that this bill is going to have on the district,” Duval County Public School Board member Scott Shine told News4Jax Saturday. “We still have the other things in the bill to deal with, but the crisis, in my opinion, was the financial shortfall. It could've been anywhere from $8 million to $30 million, and that would have really put the district and a critical situation.”

Many parents in the area expressed their discontent with the bill.

“My message to Governor Scott would be to not pass, not support, not allow this bill,” parent Stan Hunt said.

“I don't think it's totally fair for the school to be shut down because of them getting those grades,” another parent, Shameka Wilcox, said.

Even children told News4Jax that they don’t like the idea of students having to change schools.

“It’s just very sad for the students,” Lucas Hunt, a fourth grader at Chaffee Trail Elementary School, said. “They have to move to a brand-new location with new people. I love my school.”

Even though all of the parents News4Jax spoke with Saturday said they are against the bill, thousands of people contacted the governor's office in support of it.

As of late this week, there have been about 17,000 calls, emails and letters to Scott in support of the measure. That’s compared to about 11,000 opposing the bill.

The bill will be available to view online once it hits the governor's desk. Scott will have 15 days from then to make a decision.

Click here to see the Florida Legislature's 2017 bill action template.  

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