Education Funding Strategy Getting Clearer

dollar-726881_1280Senator Gaetz and Representative Fresen are meeting this weekend to hammer out the education budget.  I received a list of Representative Fresen’s proposals.  It shifts $430 million in projected funding increases from local property taxes to the State.  The new per student amount would be $7,178.49 and tops the 2007 level by about $52 per student.  This is long overdue.

There are increases in specific areas and as much total funding as reported earlier.



The total anticipated increase is closer to Governor Scott’s budget and less than either the House or Senate budgets.

This budget may not do much to improve Florida’s national ranking in funding for education.  We are near the bottom.  The budget negotiations are not over.  Maybe things can still improve.

We still need to watch the capital outlay funding issue.  Rep. Fresen has kept the cap on public school facility funding.  It is not clear if the allocation of district facility funding to charter schools is in the proposal.  If funding for facilities is reduced by the cap on spending and then further reduced by sharing building construction and maintenance funds with privately owned charter schools, not much has been gained.  Other states require public ownership of charter schools, and they have limits on lease amounts paid to private real estate companies, not Florida.

Stay tuned.  Here is the current proposal.  It was forwarded from Vern Pick-up Crawford.  It will change.

The House offer includes several major components:

  • A buy-up of Local Required Effort millage using about $432M of state funds. This is a dollar for dollar swap and does not add to the bottom line; in fact,
  • the RLE buy-up takes away dollars that were used to provide a 1.75% House or 2.0% Senate per pupil increase and, at this point, the House position would increase total potential per pupil funding by about 1% or $71.78/FTE; it’s widely acknowledged this is a starting point and the 1% is expected to be increased;
  • the House agreed to the Senate’s $94 million increase in special education funding (ESE Guarantee);
  • the House agreed to continue funding the Senate’s 3-year program of requiring additional instruction for the low 300 elementary schools in reading (details on delivery are not in the budget discussions at this point, but are part of SB1418 still pending in the Senate); Supplemental Academic Instruction (SAI) funding is increased to help cover the cost of the additional required reading instruction;
  • the House held to its $80 million for technology, but wants to raise the minimum per district from $250K to $500k; Other categorical programs continue to be funded at current year levels, or very slight increases
  • the House proposal to put into the Implementing Bill the portion of HB873 that pertains to restricting per student station construction costs and penalize districts with loss of state PECO funds if they exceed the cap–to be set as part of an OPPAGA study next year;
  • the House also funds an additional 800 students projected for next year (over the already projected increase of 35,495 FTE) using projections from earlier this month;
  • the House proposes to continue funding of the “Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship” (HB7043); and
  • offers a new, one-year allowance to use any accrued motor fuel tax credits for general transportation purposes if a district has met all requirements in s.206.625(2), F.S.;
To reiterate, this is the first offer by either chamber and the road to compromise has just begun here. The Senate, led by Education Appropriations Chair Don Gaetz, was to provide its offer tonight, but announced later there would be no meeting. Word is the conferees may meet tomorrow morning to continue their deliberations. We’ll keep you posted tomorrow.
Posted in Facilities, Florida, Florida House, Florida Senate, Funding.

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