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2001 Opinions

Date:   April 17, 2001
Prepared By:   James A. Robinson
Phone:   (850) 488-7707
Suncom:   278-7707
Opinion No.:   01-05
Staff Contact:   Diane McCain
MEMORANDUM OPINION
TO: Max L. Schmidt, Superintendent, Charlotte County Public Schools
FROM: James A. Robinson, General Counsel
SUBJECT: Meaning of "Public Approval"
RE: Letter Dated April 2, 2001

QUESTION PRESENTED: What is the meaning of "public approval" as used in Section 236.25(5)(d), Florida Statutes:

CONCLUSION: : It is our opinion that "public approval" must contemplate a public referendum.1

DISCUSSION: I am the new General Counsel of the Department and am responding to your letter of April 2, 2001, inquiring as to the meaning of "public approval" as the term is used in Section 236.25(5)(d), Florida Statutes, governing the use of revenue generated my millage levy to finance ancillary plant facilities. This is an issue of first impression for us. We've not been called on before to interpret this language. Section 236.25, Florida Statues, was amended to include the provision in question during the 1997 special legislative session on education. It was tacked onto House Bill 17-A as an amendment. Unfortunately, I could find no bill analysis of the amended provisions, so there is no discussions about the meaning of "public approval."

There is no other use of the term "public approval" in the Florida School Code. The language in its face would appear to require some formal referendum, perhaps using the same procedures as found in Section 236.32, Florida Statutes, for conducting millage elections.

Please let me know if you have any further questions or comments.

1 Note. Since the issuance of this opinion, the Office of General Counsel has received another inquiry concerning the same issue and was persuaded that a public referendum was probably not required given the lengths to which the school board went to give notice of the public meeting at which the matter was taken up. Thus, we recede from this opinion to the extent that it would call for a public referendum in every case, regardless of the circumstances.

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