Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tallahasee Proposal To Allow Florida Cities To Become School Districts

Florida County Map

TALLAHASSE, Florida - A proposal to amend the Florida Constitution introduced in the Florida Legislature would allow cities to become their own school district and allow Tallahassee to abolish individual Florida county school districts. Neighboring counties could also agree to join together to become a single school district.

Florida Senate Joint Resolution SJR 734, introduced by Senator Jeff Brandes and Representative Matt Caldwell, would also make the elected governing body of the cities or counties the de facto school board unless otherwise provided by special law.

Florida school districts are currently countywide pursuant to the Florida Constitution. An amendment to the Constitution would be necessary to implement the proposal.

"It's time to rethink a one size fits all school district," Senator Brandes wrote on his Facebook page. "Our bill would allow more local control and additional flexibility in district size."

The bill could have sweeping ramifications for many Florida ocean-side counties like Brevard County because barrier island and beach-side communities often have older populations with less children - along with higher property values, while neighboring communities on the mainland often have lower property values - but more children.

Cities in Brevard would also be able protect their communities from both the threat of (and actual) school closure decisions made at the county level by simply becoming their own school district.

Although a far cry from splitting up a county school district entirely, the Brevard County Public Schools administration already proposed to divide the county's school impact fee taxing districts from 1 to 4, and later from 1 to 2, citing different financial and demographic needs in certain areas of the 72-mile-long school district. The proposal failed.

Map Credit: Florida Department of Elections