JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - How charter schools will be incorporated in a plan to overhaul public schools was a topic of conversation at a Duval County School Board meeting Monday morning.
The Duval County School Board held a workshop and was presented with a proposal from Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene on how to include the county’s charter schools in Duval County Public Schools' Master Facility Plan.
The plan would cost the school district about $1.9 billion and would involve replacing, renovating and consolidating the state’s oldest schools. The School Board is asking for a half-cent sales tax referendum to pay for the plan, and on Monday, Greene discussed a proposal on how the school district could incorporate charter schools into the revenue brought in by the tax.
The guiding principles of the plan include safety and security upgrades, removing classroom portables, reducing the number of schools through consolidation, removing FCI backlog (cost of repairs needed at schools) and reducing the age of facilities.
Greene pointed out that it is more expensive to provide safety and security updates for public school than it is charter schools. She also said portables have to meet more guidelines at public schools including having covered walkways from the school to the portables, which charter schools are not required to have.
She said the covered walkways are an additional cost to the school district, and because of funding, not all portables already have the covered walkways.
It was also pointed out that the age of the 31 charter schools in Duval County, on average, is much younger than that of public schools. The average age of Jacksonville’s public schools is about 44 years old, the oldest in the state of Florida.
Greene said most charter schools in Duval County have been opened within the last 10 years.
The superintendent gave five funding proposal considerations for charter schools:
- Facilities – Is the facility owned or leased by the school?
- Portables – Are there portables that are owned that need to be removed?
- Consolidation – Are there several small schools that need to be consolidated due to excess seats?
- FCI – Has a Facility Condition Index review been conducted?
- Facility age – What is the age of the facility being used?
Greene also compared public and charter schools by classroom size, which public schools on average are greater at 882 square feet compared to charter schools on average at 610 square feet per classroom. Also used for comparison were public schools having classroom storage rooms, interior concrete block walls for safety, classroom bathrooms in grades two and three, and ESE service and support rooms. Greene said charter schools don’t have any of the above.
This was a proposal that the School Board is expected to discuss further in the future.
Some School Board members are concerned about providing charter schools with funding from the proposed half-cent sales tax.
“The more we are required to give to charter schools the less we’re able to do with our aging schools," School Board Member Warren Jones said.
There was also mention of charter schools receiving additional funding like PICO dollars that the school district doesn’t receive.
The School Board is expected to vote on the final Master Facilities Plan at its regular meeting scheduled for July 2 at 6 p.m.
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