For the first time in four years, public schools in Florida are receiving maintenance money from the state.
Leaky roofs, faulty air conditioners and chipped paint have gone unattended in schools across the state. Maintenance was one of the first things to go during the recession.
Over the last three budgets, public schools got nothing for repairs. Charter schools got $90 million in the current budget for maintenance.
They’ll each get money this year: $75 million for charter schools and $50 million for public schools.
“Rather than invest in public schools, Rick Scott and his allies are directing tens of millions of dollars to charter schools just interested in making a buck off of your child,” said Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee.
The Florida Republican Party criticized Williams in a statement, saying he shouldn’t have voted for the budget if it was so bad. Williams countered that the good outweighed the bad.
Lawmakers defend giving charter schools maintenance money but not public schools because they say public school boards can levy up to a $1.5 million for school repairs, and the charter schools can’t.
Kindergarten teacher Shari Genwater said her district has been good about maintenance.
“(But) we still have teachers teaching in portables,” Genwater said. “We have air conditioning and filtration systems that are not up to par (with) where they should be.”
The Department of Education was unable to provide a needs assessment for maintenance statewide, saying local districts know best.