Hillsborough superintendent: new law could cost district millions in funding

Gov. Scott signed HB 7069 into law Thursday
Posted at 10:57 PM, Jun 15, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott signed a sweeping education bill into law Thursday, widely protested by school boards across the state. 

Earline Kennedy knows the students in her community are in desperate need of help.

"They don't have the proper foundation to be successful in life," said Kennedy, a former early childcare educator. 

The Tampa grandmother lives across the street from B.T. Washington Elementary School, an historic F-rated school where nearly all students come from low-income households. 

Kennedy believes House Bill 7069 hurts under-performing public schools across Hillsborough county. 

"It should be going to the schools and he should figure out how to go about helping by coming to the communities, asking the communities what's going on, what's happening," said Kennedy.

The comprehensive law includes several measures many educators say prioritizes charter schools over traditional public schools. 

The 274-page education overhaul allocates $140 million of taxpayer dollars to subsidize charter schools in low-income areas. 

"We want to make sure the dollars flow to the students who need it most." 

"This will be implemented well," Gov. Scott said at a bill-signing ceremony in Orlando Thursday. "We can look at all these students, all these smiling faces and their lives will be better, they'll have the opportunity to live the dreams of this country."

"It literally will take dollars away from our most needy schools," said Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins. 

Eakins says the law lets charter schools move in and directly compete with the districts' Title 1 schools. Eakins predicts Hillsborough schools will lose $10 million. 

"That's going to be very complicated, especially when we've allocated our dollars for certain resources at our schools, certain incentives for teachers to be recruited to our most needy schools," said Eakins. 

Eakins is now calling on education attorneys to challenge Gov. Scott's new law in federal court.