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Monday, September 26, 2011

The Florida Legislature violates the constitution... again

From the St. Petersburg Times Gradebook

by Jeff Solochek

When the Pasco County legislative delegation meets today at River Ridge High School, superintendent Heather Fiorentino has a key priority she wants them to hear: Don't adopt any more unfunded mandates.

"This is the fourth consecutive year of multimillion dollar budget shortfalls for the District School Board of Pasco County, as evidenced by the fact that the District now receives $780 less per child than it did during the 2007-2008 school year. Adequate and flexible funding is needed to ensure high quality education for all students," Fiorentino writes in handout of priorities she's going to present.

She's got some other desires, as well, one of which goes head to head with one of the Legislature's big priorities - flexibility for charter schools.

Fiorentino calls for the amendment of last year's new law, which gives "high performing" charter schools more leeway to open in a district without explicit local approval. The superintendent suggests the law skirts the constitutional authority of school boards:

Under Section 4, Article IX of the Florida Constitution, the District School Board is charged with the responsibility of operating, controlling and supervising “all free public schools within the school district.” Giving the State Board of Education the final decision on whether or not to grant a charter is contrary to this provision. A more appropriate and Constitutionally sound process would include the Charter School Appeal Commission making its recommendation to the local school board, with the School Board retaining final authority on whether or not to grant charter applications.

See Fiorentino's full list of legislative priorities, which also includes several recommendations on virtual education, attached below. Does her platform have a chance getting through session? How does it jibe with yours?

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