FL lawmakers approve $500M for school construction
The Florida Legislature has given the green light to a $500 million school construction and maintenance spending program, according to The Palm Beach Post. Florida Gov. Rick Scott can still veto any construction or maintenance project. Last year, he pulled roughly $53 million in funding for universities and state colleges.
The Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) covers the range of educational levels and facilities, including almost $322 million for state university and college construction and maintenance; $50 million each to public and charter schools for elementary and secondary facility maintenance; and $57 million for rural elementary school construction.
PECO is part of this year's $83 billion state budget but is separate from the $625 million state school construction program. The state could have expanded the program by utilizing PECO bonds like it has in the past, but Scott is a critic of incurring more state debt.
School construction, especially in states with growing populations, is usually popular, with only the manner of funding as a point of contention. Recently in Texas, however, the type of school to receive money was also at issue. Earlier this month, the Texas Senate approved a $100 million spending initiative for both district and charter schools.
Opponents of charter school funding said the schools don't have to meet the standards that district schools do. However, charter school advocates argued that they pay for most school construction via donations and are at a disadvantage because they're not permitted to levy property taxes like traditional school districts can.
Other Texas school spending programs have been less controversial. In the last year, two school districts have awarded Balfour Beatty construction contracts, together totaling more than $200 million, for new ground-up facilities and renovations.
The Highland Park Independent School District in Dallas gave the company a $110-million contract to renovate one school and build four new ones. The Cleburne (TX) Independent School District awarded the company a contract for $100 million to renovate and build a 500,000-square-foot addition to Cleburne High School. Both schools aim to increase building energy efficiency and sustainability through their latest construction programs.
- The Palm Beach Post Lawmakers steer $500 million to schools for construction
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