School Construction in Limbo

Bob Williams, Assistant Superintendent Polk County
TAMPA -

Polk County school board members today are considering their options for financing 18 new schools. The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that 'lease purchase' deals, used by school districts and local governments to spread out payments, are unconstitutional unless pre-approved by voters.

A majority of Polk County's schools built in the last decade were financed by a lease purchase deal known as a Certificate of Participation. That's where a lender provides the upfront money. The district builds the schools and then pays off the loan over a period of time using taxpayer money.

The high court's recent ruling says that kind of deal must be pre-approved by voters.

Polk Assistant Superintendent Bob Williams says the court decision couldn't have come at a worse time, 'At a time when, we're desperately needing schools because of class size reduction.'

Williams says the Polk School District is working with the Florida School Boards Association and other organizations to ask the Florida Supreme Court to re-hear the case.

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