One Kid’s Trash is Another Kid’s Treasure

Second-graders Claire Rotchford and Bryce Beckett create shadow boxes with garbage they collected from Littlewood Elementary School and other items at the Repurpose Project on Saturday.

The Florida Supreme Court will decide if a proposed constitutional amendment about who controls charter schools will make it onto the November ballot.

A Leon County judge ordered Amendment 8, which would let the state of Florida oversee charter schools, to be cut from the ballot Monday because of misleading wording.

The League of Women Voters, a voting rights advocacy group, sued the state in July and won. But the state appealed, and the Florida Supreme Court picked up the case Wednesday, according to court records.

Charter schools, which are publicly funded schools run by private organizations, answer to local school districts. Amendment 8 would allow school boards to only control public schools created by the district.

However, the proposed amendment does not mention the word “charter” and combines three unrelated education issues about civics classes and school board member term limits, the advocacy group argues.

In his summary, Circuit Judge John Cooper said the amendment’s ballot title and summary “are entirely unclear as to which schools will be affected by the revision” and might confuse voters.

Erika Donalds, the Constitution Revision Committee member who proposed the amendment, said “charter” was excluded because the way people refer to charter schools might change in the future.

Alachua County School Board member April Griffin said the judge’s decision was a win for public schools.

“We didn’t think three things should be bundled together that don’t have anything to do with each other,” she said.

Although the Alachua County School Board has not taken an official stand on Amendment 8, school board members have expressed concern about state-run charter schools, said school district spokesperson Jackie Johnson.

“As a district, we do have concerns about the state further removing local control from the local school board,” Johnson said.

Kay Abbitt, the director of Boulware Springs Charter Schools, said Amendment 8 would be good for charter schools but agrees the amendment’s wording is misleading.

“I think that when you’re writing an amendment that people are going to vote on, it should be very transparent,” she said.

Abbitt, who founded Boulware Springs five years ago, said she doesn’t feel the local school board has her charter’s best interest at heart, especially since it filed a lawsuit against an education bill that provided more funding for charter schools in 2017.

Abbitt said she wouldn’t have to jump through hoops when working with the state.

“If I were dealing with the state, I wouldn’t have to figure out what questions to ask to get answers,” she said.

Contact Amanda Rosa at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AmandaNicRosa

Amanda Rosa is a third-year journalism major from Miami Beach, FL. As the crime reporter, she covers breaking news and crime in Gainesville and the University of Florida. She loves drawing, reading and drinking too much coffee.