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Sharing Property Taxes With Charter Schools Stirs Fight

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Florida's sweeping new education law, which requires school districts to share property taxes with charter schools, could soon be the target of a lawsuit.

The school board in Broward County has voted to sue the state over the massive bill, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. In addition to sharing property taxes, the bill also establishes a program that creates financial incentives for charter schools to take on students from chronically failing district schools.

Nationwide, charter schools receive less funding than their district-run peers—an average of 29 percent less, according to one study—and this bill granting charter schools access to property taxes in Florida was seen as a promising victory by national charter advocates.

Of the 14 cities examined in that study by researchers at the University of Arkansas, eight received no money from local revenue sources such as property taxes and bond measures. 

Although the Florida law is a major boost for charter schools, it tackles a myriad of other issues, including changes to the state's standardized testing system and bonuses for teachers.

Pushed through the legislature in the final days of the session, the bill roused strong opposition from district superintendents and teachers' unions—many of whom called for Gov. Rick Scott to veto the bill. He signed it last month.

The Sun Sentinel reports that the lawyer for the Broward County board anticipates other Florida school boards will join the lawsuit.

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