Palm Beach County has pledged to help a nonprofit charter school sell $10.5 million in mostly tax-exempt bonds so it can open a new campus in Juno Beach — a move that has upset County Commissioner Paulette Burdick, who questions whether the county should aid privately run charters that pull students away from the public school district.
Burdick, a former school board member, cast the sole vote against the bond issue. County commissioners voted 6-1 this month to issue the tax-exempt bonds on behalf of Bright Futures Academy, which plans to use the money to consolidate its three schools in northern Palm Beach County into a single campus on U.S. 1 in Juno Beach.
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Staff writer Allison Ross contributed to this story.
What is a tax-exempt municipal bond?
A bond issued by a local government to generate revenue or pay for a project. Investors purchase the bonds for a specific amount and are paid interest on their investment. Municipal bonds are typically exempt from federal taxes, making them more attractive to investors.
Who issues the bonds for Bright Futures Academy?
Palm Beach County will issue $10.5 million in bonds on behalf of Bright Futures Academy. The school will use the money to consolidate its three schools into a single campus in Juno Beach. The majority of the bonds issued will be tax exempt. A small portion will be taxable.
Who is responsible for the debt?
Bright Futures is responsible for paying the principal and interest payments on the bonds, as well as all associated expenses. Taxpayers are not on the hook for the debt if the charter school defaults.
Why would the county issue bonds for the school?
County officials estimate Bright Futures’ new campus will result in a $75 million economic boost to the county over the next five years.