The Alachua County school board is asking for help; help against Senate bill 0524. They appealed to constituents to call Florida Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, and ask him to vote no on the measure during their bi-monthly meeting this week.
“I’m not trying to put a downer on the evening, but I’m just saying that we need your help,” said school board member Gunnar Paulson.
School board member Eileen Roy said the proposed bill incorporates various topics into a bill, but the bill’s section 1013.62 could potentially redirect funding from renovations for public schools to facility upkeep for charter schools if the bill gets sent to the House for approval.
As written, the Senate bill wouldn’t take any more money from the public schools, but Roy said she believes that will change if, and when, the Senate meets with the House about the bill.
Roy pointed out the House’s education budget committee chairman Erik Fresen also works as a highly-paid consultant for Civica, an architecture firm that builds charter schools. Fresen’s brother-in-law and sister are both exectutives at Academica, one of the largest charter school management companies in Florida, which also happens to do business with Civica. The Miami Herald reported the conflict of interest in February.
Roy said that these relationships are a conflict of interest and unfairly favors charter schools over public schools.
“I submit that he is not an unbiased person when it comes to getting money for charter schools,” she said.
She added that any money taken from the schools would already be on top of the about $500,000 cut (from its original $2 million) that the school board suffered in 2008 that was once for renovations.
“We need that money, and we are powerfully angry that they reduced it,” Roy said.
Paulson said the county had hundreds of thousands of dollars in necessary repairs, but that without additional funding, students will be forced to learn in outdated facilities.
“We have air conditioners that were put in in the late 70s. They could down at any time,” he said. “Imagine having your children in 90-degree heat with having no air conditioning and trying to learn.”