You spent a half a cent sales tax to help Lee County schools (that was on the ballot in 2018), and now Cape Coral City Council will be discussing asking the Lee County School Board for a portion of this funding to help the school system to Cape Coral charter.
This half-cent sales tax has been designated for all schools in Lee County, excluding the four charter schools in Cape Coral, which operate separately with their own superintendent and school board. But now they want some of the $ 170 million raised so far from the surtax.
The money from the half-cent sales tax increase helped buy state-of-the-art security cameras at Lee County public schools, giant interactive screens that teachers can use in front of the classroom and even whole new schools.
John Gunter, Mayor of Cape Coral, said charter schools would dedicate their share of the revenue to:
- Mat replacement ($ 230,000 per school)
- Bus replacement ($ 110,000 each)
- New playgrounds ($ 200,000 each)
- Technology upgrades (unspecified)
In previous meetings, the superintendent has said all of their money is going towards building leases and they need renovations.
“What we’re doing is asking, just like what other municipal charter schools have done in Cape Town, where they’ve asked the county to give them a percentage of the house and sales tax,” he said. said Gunther. “We thought we could use this money for capital improvement projects in the school, so we decided to at least ask and see if they would consider that possibility.”
If Lee County declines this proposal, Cape Coral plans to have a discussion with its city attorney to see what its other options are. Initially, Florida law doesn’t seem to allow that kind of money to go to charter schools because the half-cent tax says it can only be used in public schools. But according to Florida Statute 1002.23, all charter schools in Florida are public schools and must be part of the state’s public education curriculum.
Florida is one of the only states in the country to consider both public schools and charter schools under the same legal umbrella. Pamella Seay, professor of justice studies at Florida Gulf Coast University, agrees it can be confusing.
âWell sometimes people get confused because the schools are called charter schools,â Seay said. âThey are permitted by Florida law. And Florida law defines the charter school as a public school, so if the school district or the city or whatever wants to fund them, that’s certainly allowed, without a doubt, because it’s a school. public.