HB 7069: Taking money from Florida public schools and giving it to charter schools?

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla.  (WFLA) – When it comes to hot button issues, this one’s a scorcher. Lawmakers in Tallahassee are debating a controversial education bill that pits public schools against charter schools.

It’s known as House Bill 7069 and it’s already passed both the House and the Senate.  Republican Governor Rick Scott is “reviewing” it, while school districts across the state, as well as here in the Tampa Bay area, are bracing for deep cuts.

We asked Nancy Gornik of Pinellas County how important it was when it came to her child’s education.

“Extremely important,” she said outside her family’s home.  “It’s number one with regards to raising her.”

Gornik always keeps a close eye on her 15-year-old daughter Courtney and is always making sure her Osceola Fundamental High School sophomore is hitting the books.

But now, Gornik is concerned lawmakers could possibly fail her daughter.

“A lot of kids struggle,” Gornik told News Channel 8.  “I mean, you can see that in a lot of the grades that schools around here have, that they are, that kids are struggling and a lot of them would struggle even more if they didn’t have those teachers to support them.”

Critics say HB 7069 would take money away from some of the poorest public schools to fund charter schools.

Other possible cuts in the Tampa Bay area include reading programs in Polk County, as many as 48 teachers, coaches and other job layoffs in Pasco County and a program that lets more than 6,000 students take their laptops home in Pinellas County.

One of the bill’s biggest proponents, Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran says that’s simply not true.

We asked him if he could assure parents that the bill would be good for Florida children.

“This is the best education bill for K-12 public education ever passed in the history in the state of Florida,” Corcoran said.

HB 7069 is a wide-raging bill that covers everything from hiring the best teachers to proper testing, but if it doesn’t turn out to be the “best education bill”, Courtney Gornik says it would be a shame for students.

“We do good academically, but like if we lost our resources, then we’d probably drop in grades,” she said.

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