State Board Set To Request More Money For Florida Schools

September 26, 2016

The Florida Board of Education appears ready to request another record figure of per-student funding for public education, setting a starting point for what is annually one of the most politically charged debates over the state budget.

But the increase is likely to draw some of the same complaints as it has in the past: While the proposed per-student spending is more than ever in raw numbers, it has not kept up with inflation since a previous high-water mark was set nearly a decade ago.

A draft of the request, posted on the Department of Education’s website Thursday, proposes spending almost $20.9 billion in state and local tax dollars next year through the main formula for funding public education in Florida, an increase of $721.6 million.

The request is set to be adopted by the board at its meeting Friday, then sent to Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders for use in crafting the overall state spending plan for the fiscal year that will start July 1.

On a per-student basis, the figure would grow from $7,183.92 in the current budget year to $7,359.85 next year. That represents growth of almost 2.5 percent. That is slightly above the amount that state economists project would flow to schools based on increased tax dollars from local property values if the state invested nothing more.

That could allow state budget-writers to substantially increase funding for education with only a portion of the new funding — about $222.2 million — coming from a state budget already expected to be stretched thin. But it also could tangle the politics of the issue after lawmakers and Scott trumpeted an effort this year to hold property taxes flat, offsetting the lost income with state money.

That left room for just a 1 percent increase in student funding this year.

While Scott and other state leaders have bragged about increasing spending on state schools to record levels, the Florida Education Association teachers union has disputed that idea, saying those pronouncements don’t account for inflation since the 2007-08 budget year, when legislators hit what used to be the historical record.

“Florida’s public schools and their students continue to make gains despite tepid financial support from the state,” said Mark Pudlow, a spokesman for the union. “When adjusted for inflation, this proposed budget still doesn’t equal what we were investing on our public schools a decade ago.”

The plan to be considered by the board Friday would also do away with the Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program — which received $49 million in the current budget year. Instead, the department would create a $43 million program that would “support bonuses for new teachers who show great potential for and veteran teachers who have demonstrated the highest student academic growth among their peers,” according to meeting materials.

Best and Brightest has been controversial because it bases teacher bonuses on educators’ scores on college-admissions tests.

State officials were traveling for the board meeting, which will be held in Tampa, and could not immediately be reached to further explain the changes.

In higher education, the budget requests an additional $29.1 million for the Bright Futures scholarship program to cover the costs of expanding the scholarships to cover summer courses. And a program aimed at drawing high-achieving students who receive national merit scholarship recognition to Florida colleges would grow by more than 41 percent, to $18.2 million.

by Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida


6 Responses to “State Board Set To Request More Money For Florida Schools”

  1. mike on September 26th, 2016 11:39 am

    Florida voters approved the lottery in 1986 to fund education enhancement. The law stipulated that 50% go to prizes, 38% go to education, and the remaining 12% used for lottery administration and promotion. Within a few years, the legislature began to subvert the original intent. In the state budget, they began to use lottery money to pay for education operating costs and salaries while shifting those tax dollars to pet projects and non-educational spending.

  2. Anne on September 26th, 2016 11:04 am

    Gov. Scott and the legislature have reduced taxes in the state on big businesses.
    The question we have always asked is, ‘When Taxes are CUT by the State, what services are YOU Willing to Give UP?’
    Be prepared for an increase in OUR Property Taxes locally because the state does not have enough funds for OUR schools.

    JASON……You are On Target with the Lotto Funds.
    Intended to be used for Extra things the schools could not afford from their budget.
    When the law makers saw how much was being raised through the Lotto they began to cut the funding to the districts.
    State also did away with Capitol Improvement funding which built new schools and repaired existing schools.

  3. js on September 26th, 2016 8:35 am

    Not to mention….
    Dept. of Edu employs over 320000 people
    There are approx. 20mil people living in florida.
    Do the math, unreal.What a sham

  4. js on September 26th, 2016 8:31 am

    the bonus program sounds good, depending on how the winner of the bonus is chosen. If it’s run by the state, and there is a bonus involved, it’s most likely going to be fishy anyway. WAY too much fat that needs to be cut in the EDU system.
    Too much admin, centralized. Just spend 2 minutes of the FL dept. of edu website.
    It’s worse than some huge corp. conglomeration. It’s embarrassing to see the waste of money. (And yes, I know you can include every office of the state when talking about waste, this is about edu.)

  5. Jason on September 26th, 2016 2:14 am

    From each dollar collected by the Florida Lottery 65% is returned to player price fund. The remaining 35% is divided as follows:
    * 26.8% to education;
    * 5.5% paid to retailers as commission for selling tickets and for redeeming winning tickets;
    * 1.4% goes to vendors; and the final
    * 1.3% goes to operating expenses.

    In the last fiscal year – the Florida Lottery deposited more than $1,5 Billion dollars into the Education Trust Fund. The Florida Education budget for the same year was $16, 965,233,181. ($16.965 Billion)

    The current fiscal year budget for the Department of Education is $17,362,882,131. Yes that is right – $17.362 Billion dollars for educational purposes – both operational and capital outlay.

    Im pretty sure that the aforementioned budget dollars do not include locally collected and allocated funds. However, each district does receive funds from FL DOE.

    The lottery was never initiated as a replacement for educational dollars – merely an enhancement to the budget. Lots of kids who previously would not have qualified financially for college, have been able to attend a college via the Bright Futures Scholarships.

  6. mike on September 26th, 2016 12:54 am

    u mean the lottery money is not going to the schools!?! gasp!?! what a surprise!! :D

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