Amendment Could Reshape Florida School Districts

Nov 5, 2015

Right now, school districts in Florida are pretty simple. One county; one school district.

But Florida lawmakers have proposed a constitutional amendment that could reshape school districts across the state.

The bill from Pinellas County Sen. Jeff Brandes and Lee County Representative Matt Caldwell could make things more complicated.

The proposal would allow the legislature to disband some school districts, while allowing cities, counties and others to create new school districts.

Some counties could form multiple school districts. Or school districts could include students from multiple counties.

Cities also would be allowed to run a district comprised of charter schools if the idea is approved.

The proposal is based on ideas tried in Louisiana and Tennessee.

But the Florida School Boards Association and others question whether the bill would change how schools are funded. Florida currently gets good marks for the fairness of school funding because money is shared among the state’s sixty-seven school districts.

In some Southern states, dividing school districts separated students along racial lines or wealthier neighborhoods from poorer neighborhoods.

But recent research has shown progress in New Orleans' all-charter school district since Hurricane Katrina reshaped the city's school system.

Lawmakers will take up the bill when the legislative session begins in January. Voters also would have to approve the amendment.