State lawmakers reached a budget proposal to give traditional public schools more than $100 Million in Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds for maintenance and construction. The proposed budget, however, only gives charter schools a fraction of the funds they received last year.
Public school districts, like Bay District Schools, are starving for funding to cover general maintenance costs. Districts once received PECO funds from the state, but many have not received any since 2011.
"We have to basically use our [Local Capital Improvement] dollars, that's the money contributed from our local tax, the individuals who own properties," Dr. John Haley, Director of Operation Support Services, said. "Our local tax dollars are being utilized in order to help us maintain our schools."
A proposed budget deal would give the state's 67 school districts a total of $50 Million in PECO funds next school year.
The deal also includes $59,686264 in special facilities funding for seven counties, including Calhoun, Holmes, and Washington.
Haley said, if approved, Bay District Schools could see about $500 thousand for maintenance. "Even $500,000 can go a long way, especially when you're talking about routine maintenance," Haley added.
The budget proposal, however, only gives charter schools a fraction of the $91 Million in funding they received last year.
"The allocation was $93 Million. It's now been dropped down to the $50 Million from the Senate and [House Speaker] Will Weatherford supplementing $25 Million," Dr. Tim Kitts, CEO of Bay Haven Charter Academy, said. "It's a total of $75 Million."
Kitts said his five charter schools will lose a total of $221,000 next school year compared to this year. He added the shortfall will leave fewer dollars to spend on things that enhance a student's education, like technology.
"Our concern is when you have political football going on in Tallahassee that doesn't support the education of children and is detrimental to any child's education," Kitts said. "We find that reprehensible."
The budget can still be tweaked before it goes up for a final vote on Friday.