Why Polk County school board joined lawsuit against HB 7069

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Several school districts in Florida have joined a legal challenge against a new law that would siphon money away from public schools and send it to charter schools and other alternatives; one of the counties opposing HB 7069 is Polk.

WMNF News spoke with Kay Fields, chair of Polk County Public Schools board.

Listen:

“Well, there are so many bills embedded within 7069 it would probably take me forever to tell you what is all in it. Our concern is the dollars that’s being taken away from the public schools and being distributed to charter schools, the schools of Hope, and the funneling of Title 1 funds that used to come directly to the school district, where we could designate what funds needed to go into the various schools, that now directly goes into the schools and they determine what those dollars need to be spent for. Because of that we’re having to reposition some of the positions that we have, that in the past have helped the school directly, like our reading coaches, our math coaches, and other positions that we utilize to help us to help the kids that need academic help the most. That’s just a very general overview, but, again it would take a long time to list out all the things that are within House Bill 7069 and this was something that was done last minute and there was no input from the people that would be impacted the most.”

So, you think that the public schools would lose some money if this happens?

“Sure.”

And that money would go to the charter schools and that’s already causing you to, you say “reposition people”. What that means is taking people out of the classroom and maybe either firing them or moving them to a different job?

“And what we’ve been able to do this time is we’ve been able to use some of our resources to ensure that we are kept whole for the current school year, because we don’t want to have to reduce the services that we’re providing to the schools nor do we want to have to terminate anyone or lay anyone off from work. So, we’ve been able to find ways to, again, keep everything whole for this school year, but, that’s not gonna be the case unless something drastic happens for the next school year and that’s why we, along with other school districts, are trying to find some type of recourse to stop what is contemplated, so that we can have the resources that we need to bring our schools where they need to be. And to make sure that our kids, all kids in the public schools, get a quality education and that can’t happen if we don’t have the resources that we so desperately need, for our kids.”