Standard Contract Victory in the House

FLORIDA 04/23/14 – A bill that creates a standard contract for districts and charter schools, and would permit charter schools to lease unused district facilities passed in the House yesterday. After nearly a full hour of debate on the House floor Monday, the House of Representatives passed HB 7083.

The bill also contain provisions on an expanded charter application process; standard contract provisions; clarification of the use and rental costs of unused school districts buildings being offered to charter schools; access to High Performing status by out-of-state charter operators that qualify and agree to open charter schools in high needs areas; and repayment, on a pro rata basis, of FTE reimbursements for students who withdraw from charter schools during the school year (and vice versa) to sponsors.

“We are pleased that HB 7083 is moving forward,” said Robert Haag, President of the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) – a state association that represents an estimated 500 public charter schools. “The bill aims to simplify the contract negotiation process – particularly for small, independent charter schools, and would require charter applicants to provide more information about their proposed program would help school districts evaluating new charter school proposals. This is a win-win.”

There is also language in HB7083 about the use of district school facilities by charter schools through an RFP process. “We are talking about empty district school facilities not currently being used for educational purposes,” explains Mr. Haag. “Many charter schools have a difficult time finding quality and affordable facilities. Working with districts to lease their unused properties at prevailing market benefits everyone.” The standard contract language came from months of meetings and workshops held by the Florida Department of Educaiton with charter schools and district representatives. There was also a Quality Charter School Task Force hosted by the FCPCS in October 2013 that brought district and charter school representatives together. The group discussed the standard contract along with other issues being addressed this legislative session.

The House bill has been sent to the Senate, in messages, for consideration while the Senate’s stripped down version - SB1528 - awaits action in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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