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Palm Beach Co. education leaders remain critical of funding bill ahead of special session

Posted at 7:36 PM, Jun 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 19:38:10-04

Governor Rick Scott ordered the state legislature to return to the capitol next week for a special session. He wants and will likely get more money for promoting Florida to both businesses and tourists.

He is also asking the state to set aside more money for public education. But school leaders aren’t as happy as you’d expect.

Superintendents, teachers and parents want legislators to throw out this year's education bill, House Bill 7069. They said the governor’s proposal of adding $200 million won't solve long term problems they believe the bill creates.

Scott announced Friday he wants lawmakers to give districts $100 more per student. 

“I believe we have a pathway so every student in the state will be in a better position,” the governor said.  

The move adds about $19 million to Palm Beach County. But Superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa said that's not enough.

If that's all lawmakers do to HB 7069, the budget will force Palm Beach County schools to earmark $230 million to charter schools over the next 10 years. Avossa pointed out traditional schools outperform charter schools in Palm Beach County. 

“Those are the kind of things and those are the kinds of statistics that should alarm our community,” Avossa said. “They certainly alarm this school board and they certainly alarm me as superintendent.”

He renewed a call to action for parents and teachers to ask the governor to veto HB 7069, or have the legislature rewrite it during the special session.  

“I want to believe it’s more than a dog and pony show, but how is it possible they’re going to take three days to come to terms with something they couldn’t come to terms with in three months,” Avossa asked.

The teacher’s union president agreed.

“I would give the legislature an F,” Kathy Gundlach admitted.

She said the bill threatens to take resources away from traditional classrooms.

“What it says to me is that our legislators have no respect for the families and children in the state of Florida,” Gundlach said.

The special session goes from June 7 to June 9.

Governor Scott said he is still reviewing HB 7069.