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The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that so-called lease-purchase agreements for school construction are permissible because they do not meet the constitutional definition of a bond issue.

Under such an agreement, a school district arranges for a nonprofit company or association to sell bonds for new construction or capital improvements. The nonprofit entity then builds the school and leases it back to the district, which eventually gains ownership. (See Education Week, April 11, 1990.)

Lawyers for the state had argued that the agreements are illegal because the state constitution requires that voters approve local bond issues when they are to be repaid through a pledge of property-tax revenues.

The high court ruled 5 to 2, however, that the lease deals are not equivalent to issuing bonds. The majority held that under such agreements, no one has authority to force the district to use property taxes to repay the bonds.

The ruling clears the way for hundreds of millions of dollars in school construction in overcrowded districts throughout the state.

The St. Paul Board of Education is proceeding with plans to open several magnet schools in a former warehouse, but three programs that drew parent protests will not be among them. (See Education Week, Feb. 21, 1990.)

The board last month agreed to place three magnet schools, a family-education service center, and a preschool special-education program in the building when it opens next fall.

Following protests from parents, the board decided not to place three other programs--the Adams Montessori Magnet School, the experimental Saturn School, and a proposed magnet school for Native American students--in the former Control Data Corporation warehouse.

Vol. 09, Issue 33

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