The Osceola County School Board has a system for collecting school impact fees, or money charged to builders and paid by home buyers, to pay for new schools and renovations.

At its virtual meeting Tuesday, it voted to protect that system and the revenue it collects.

After much discussion, the Osceola County School Board voted by a 4-1 vote that a conversion project of existing motel units into “zero-bedroom” apartments should pay the same in school impact fees charged for townhomes in order to be able to move the building project forward.

The Teale LLC group had proposed an alternative calculation of fees that would set a “market value” for 300 units from 187 to 350 square foot or smaller bedroom hotel conversions on a pair of former hotels on the west side of Kissimmee: $552 per unit, and then placing the rest of what is owed into an escrow account. They’d then pay what’s in the escrow if the new units produced enough new students.

“Approving that proposal hurts our district,” Board Chairman Kelvin Soto said during the meeting. “It would defund public education.”

That plan was rejected, and instead followed a recommendation from a consultant to treat the new housing units, which would carry one-year leases that limit occupancy to two people per unit, as townhomes which already have a set calculation.

“If we passed that, there’d have been five more outfits lining up to do the same,” Board Member Clarence Thacker said Wednesday morning. “I don’t think us five board members and Superintendent (Debra) Pace were philosophically far apart. We’ve got to defend what we’re doing. People want development to pay for itself. The School District is ensuring that.”