WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — UPDATE: The legislature has agreed on a version of HB 7123 that won't retroactively distribute voter-approved local money to charter schools.
In a statement, Palm Beach County School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri Jr. said, "Late last night, the Florida House and Senate agreed on a version of HB 7123 that would no longer force school districts to retroactively share voter-approved referendum funds with charter schools. This means that, by statute, the November 2018 voter-approved funds in Palm Beach County, are no longer subject to being used in ways inconsistent with what was promised in ballot language. The bill will now head to Governor DeSantis for his signature into law. While this bill prevents referendum sharing retroactively, the exemption excluding charter schools in revenue sharing does not apply to future referendums."
Palm Beach County teachers refuse to give up their fight for funding. On Wednesday, more than a hundred teachers and staff from various schools throughout the county packed the regularly scheduled school board meeting to make sure their voices were heard.
“We are not going to stay silent and we will prevail,” said one teacher.
Wearing red shirts as a sign of solidarity, the teachers showed up wanting one thing.
“The vote should count and we want that respected,” said teacher Cheryl Whitehurst.
In November more than 72 percent of Palm Beach County voters approved a referendum to raise taxes for school security and teacher pay. The language on the ballot specified that money would not be shared with charter schools, which are private managed but considered public schools under state law.
However, the Florida House recently passed a bill, HB 7123 , that would require the district to share the money with charter schools.
“We feel bad for the teachers at the charter schools but what is right is right, what is fair is fair and the voters spoke very loudly,” said Widline Pierre.
Many of the educators in attendance fear uncertainty. However, the school board addressed those fears Wednesday night.
“You know you have our support, all 7 of us will absolutely support you to make sure the money that was promised to you will get to you and we will do whatever we can in the court system to make sure that happens,” board chairman Frank Barbieri.
It’s now up to the Florida Senate to vote on the bill, which could happen as early as Thursday.