top of page

Recent News 

Old funding now available to charter schools in Florida 

Florida Statute 1011.71(9) permits a school board to generate revenue for school operational purposes, including through referendums seeking voter approval to levy ad valorem millage.


Before July 1, 2019, the statute did not expressly reference charter schools, but in 2019, the Legislature amended the statute to expressly include charter schools. Legal disputes arose when charter schools in Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County demanded that their respective counties proportionately share the pre-2019 Referendum funds with them. 

In Palm Beach County, the voters approved a 2018 Referendum to levy an ad valorem millage to raise funds for school safety needs and educational personnel. The language of the Palm Beach County Referendum specifically excluded charter schools. Similarly, the voters in Miami-Dade County approved a 2018 Referendum seeking approval to impose an ad valorem tax levy for “operational funds” over a four-year period to raise funds to improve compensation for high quality teachers and instructional personnel and increase school safety and security personnel. The language of the Miami-Dade County Referendum omitted charter schools. 


Charter schools in those counties filed declaratory judgment actions, asking the courts to require the school boards to proportionately share the 2018 referendum revenues with the charter schools. The School Boards argued that the Referendum’s language expressly omitting charter schools in the first case and omitting a reference to charter schools in the second case indicated that revenues generated from the ad valorem tax levy did not have to be shared with charter schools. 


In recent cases decided in 2021 and 2022, the Third and the Fourth District Courts of Appeal rejected the school boards’ arguments. In Florida, charter schools are declared by general law to be public schools and are part of the state’s program of public education. As the courts in those cases explained, the same statute that declares this requires that “[s]tudents enrolled in a charter school, regardless of the sponsorship, shall be funded as if they are in a basic program or a special program, the same as students enrolled in other public schools in the school district.” Thus, the referendums that excluded charter schools—either expressly or by omission—violated this law. Accordingly, the courts held that the School Boards must share with the charter schools in those funds generated from the 2018 voter-approved referendums.    


The cases referenced above are: Archimedean Acad., Inc. v. Sch. Bd. of Miami-Dade County, Florida, 3D20-1854, 2022 WL 790272 (Fla. 3d DCA Mar. 16, 2022); and Acad. for Positive Learning, Inc. v. Sch. Bd. of Palm Beach Cnty., Fla., 315 So. 3d 675 (Fla. 4th DCA 2021), reh’g denied, 315 So. 3d 752 (Fla. 4th DCA 2021), and review denied, No. SC21-750, 2021 WL 4121491, (Fla. Sept. 9, 2021).

bottom of page