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Sarasota News Leader October 5, 2012 than $1,000 per student over the last five years. Thus, school boards are wary of the financial impacts of losing more students as well as the diversion of funding from public schools to religious schools. Proponents of the amendment argue that re- ligious institutions should not be treated dif- ferently than non-religious institutions, while opponents of the Florida Religious Freedoms Act claim that a large portion of the public school funding comes from property taxes, and religious institutions do not pay those taxes. The majority of school boards in the state see the proposed Amendment 8 as an end-run around the legal constraints regarding use of public funding for religious schools. Although the State of Florida routinely fun- nels money to projects run by religious institu- tions, it avoids conflict with state and federal laws by requiring that no effort be made to involve the recipients in religious activities. The Florida School Boards Association is "op- posed to Amendment 8 for numerous reasons including the fact that it would divert financial resources from the vast majority of Florida's PreK-12 students, and would encourage the proliferation of voucher programs that are not subject to stringent accountability standards and have not been shown to be academically BASIC COMPUTER CLASSES OFFERED AT CHURCH The Church of the Redeemer, 222 S. Palm Ave., in downtown Sarasota, is offering a free education course for adults covering the basics of using a computer for online personal transactions. Page 14 beneficial to students," the association's for- mal position says. Public school districts already have been grap- pling with the decrease in state funding as a result of a decline in enrollment — not only because of the recession's impact on the state but also because of the increase in the number of charter schools. Not too many years ago, Sarasota County was having trouble coping with the volume of new students and the need to build more schools and hire more teachers to meet demand. That is no longer the case. Therefore, charter schools are seen by some as competition for a limited supply of stu- dents. "As charter schools increase, our enrollment does not," Sarasota County Schools Superin- tendent Lori White said during the Sept. 18 School Board workshop. "You have ineffective use of facility space. That may not be the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars." "If this [Amendment 8] passes, and religious schools use state funds, they would be held accountable to the rules, standards and eval- uations that all schools are," Sarasota School Board Chairwoman Caroline Zucker told The Sarasota News Leader. "I hope they under- stand that." Starting Oct. 12, classes will meet on Friday afternoons from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. Among the topics covered will be Internet surfing, finding and making "favorites" of often-used websites, and library system use. For location, details and online registration, visit www.redeem- or call 955-4263.

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