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Charter school supporters plan to tone down lobbying strategy

After suffering bruising defeats during last year’s Legislative session, charter school advocates have descended upon the capital city with a revamped strategy.

Circle the wagons. Narrow the agenda. And make nice with the school districts.

This year, charter school lobbyists will focus their efforts on winning state money for maintenance and facilities. If they can’t secure the dollars, they want the right to use the empty space in traditional public schools free of charge.

With the state running a surplus, charter school advocates find themselves in a stronger position than last year. They have an all-star lineup of lobbyists, the ear of House Speaker Will Weatherford, and a crop of lawmakers sympathetic to their cause.

But victory isn’t guaranteed, especially with Gov. Rick Scott trying to win over public-school teachers and parents in advance of the 2014 election. The moderate Senate could be an obstacle, too. Rather than vote on any of the charter-school bills, the Senate Education Committee will hold a workshop on the issue Monday, signaling a desire to move forward cautiously.

Read the story here.