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In budget, changes to approved charter schools bill

Remember that sweeping charter schools reform bill that Florida lawmakers sent to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott earlier this week?

It came up again, surprisingly, in the last meeting between the House and Senate budget chiefs on Thursday morning.

The two sides agreed to one change that would affect SB 1546: School districts will be able to collect less money from charter schools designated as high-performing.

The bill allowed districts to collect a 5 percent administrative fee for charter schools with up to 250 students and for charter school systems with up to 500 students. But under SB 2120, the Pre-K-12 education funding bill taken up in the budget conference, that fee would be reduced to 2 percent.

"I think 2 percent is more than adequate to pay for the services that are given from school districts to charter schools," said Senate budget chief JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales. The fee is a budget issue, Alexander said, even if lawmakers already approved the charter schools bill.