Controversial 'parent trigger' bill could mean more charter schools for Tampa Bay area

Opponents say corporations will benefit

PORT RICHEY, Fla. - It's the lunch hour at Dayspring Academy in Port Richey and the student council is coming up with new ideas to help their school.

Those who run the charter school, created 12 years ago, say they have a good thing going here that sets them apart from other public schools, including a rigorous curriculum and a concentration on the arts.

"Many parents like the idea that it's smaller, their child is not a number, they are a name," said principal Sara Calleja.

We could see more charter schools around the bay area if the state senate approves the controversial parent trigger bill.

The bill, which was approved by the House yesterday, gives parents at low-performing schools a chance to vote on converting those schools into charters.

State Representative Mike Fasano voted against the bill, calling it corporate welfare that would benefit big companies that trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

"This would turn over our buildings that are paid for by the taxpayers to corporations so that they can make money on the backs of taxpayers," said Fasano.

Fasano says he is in favor of community-based non-profit charter schools like Dayspring.

The Pasco school district also has some serious questions about the parent-trigger bill.

They say it takes power away from individual counties.

"We don't want our schools to be failing, and we don't have any failing schools, but our teachers, our principals, and our school board should be the ones making that decision in consultation with the parents," said Pasco school district spokesperson Linda Cobbe.

Former Governor Jeb Bush is among the supporters of the bill. They say it will allow parents to play a bigger role.

But opponents say parents already can be heard by speaking out at their local school board meetings.

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