Florida Education Budget: Better Not Best

roller-coaster-156147_1280It is always nice to put a positive spin on reports that there is more money for education.  There is, in fact, more money for education this year than last year.

Education funding, however, has been on a roller coaster for the last several years.  Where are we now?  Take a ride and see.

There is a three percent increase in per student funding in the budget for 2015-16.  Combining state and local resources, each student will be allocated $7,096 next year.  Last year, the per student funding was $6,890.

Playing Catch Up

When you read stories about Florida trying to reach historic highs for per student funding, you need to put those hopes in context.  The historic high was in 2007-08 when the rate for Florida was $7, 142.  According to Politifact, Florida was in 39th place in the dollar amount, but 50th place if ranks were based on every $1,000 in personal income.  So, Florida citizens have the money to do more, but it is not used for education.

Who is Paying the Bills?

Where does Florida’s funding originate?  You can see that the highest percentage of money comes from local district sources e.g. property taxes.  We need to watch those property taxes carefully.  The legislature has tried several times to force districts to share locally derived funding for facilities with charter schools. If districts owned those facilities, then it might make sense to share, but charter facilities are privately owned.

Sources of funds for education in Florida are:

  • 12.3% federal
  • 38.3% state
  • 49.4% local

Facilities Funding

The constant struggle between charters and public schools for facilities funding was a draw this year–each will receive $50 million from state funds.  Of course districts have to support 4200 schools compared to about 615 for charters.  The next legislative session is likely to once again try to capture local district facility funding for charters.

Teacher Scholarships

In a curious provision this year, teachers who scored at or above the 80th percentile on the ACT or SAT exams may be eligible for a $10,000 scholarship.  It is not clear what the scholarship is for.  Students take these tests in high schools, and by the time they become teachers, they have graduated from college.  Are they to pay off loans, encourage graduate work, or a bonus program by another name?

Posted in Facilities, Florida, Funding, Teachers.

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