Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed 2012-2013 budget, announced Wednesday, includes an increase for K-12 education of almost $1.1 billion.
This budget year, Florida faced significant education funding challenges. Florida gained 30,000 more students that require almost $200 million more in state funding. Florida also faces a $400 million reduction in ad valorem taxes, due to declining property values, and one-time state education funding. Despite these challenges, the budget Governor Scott is submitting to the Legislature will include:
• Over $1 billion in new state K-12 funding.
• Raises per student funding to $6,372, including 30,000+ addition children in the public school system and less local funding due to declining property values.
• The 3rd largest amount of state K-12 funding in Florida history at $9.5 billion.
The Florida House Democratic Office responded Wednesday that “the budget signed by Governor Rick Scott on May 26, 2011 cut $1.35 billion from education” and “as a result of the Fiscal Year 2011-12 state budget signed by Governor Rick Scott, current per-student funding in Florida is $6,267 — or nearly 8 percent less ($542 less per student) than in FY 2010-11.”
The Democratic Office release adds that, according to the Florida Education Finance Program, current state education funding levels are at their lowest levels since 2005-06.
Finance Program data shows, according to the Democratic Office, that funding per student had a sharp increase in 2006-2007 ($6,848 per student) compared with ’06-’05, but has slowly declined to current levels.
Scott’s proposed budget also shows that class size reduction plans for elementary and secondary education received no increased funding. The Florida constitution currently caps the number of students per classroom at 18 for pre-K through grade 3, 22 for grades 4 through 8, and 25 for grades 9 through 12.
The “Class Size Requirements” bill filed by state Sen. David Simmons, R-Maitland, earlier this year would delete the reference to the state constitution regarding class size maximums, approved in 2002 by Florida voters.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Scott’s proposal to “put $1 billion more back into public schools” is “a cash infusion financed largely through cuts to hospitals and health-care providers that treat the sick and poor.”
According to the Palm Beach Post, “thanks to growing parent interest and state laws encouraging charter school expansion, the number of students attending public charter schools nationwide has surpassed 2 million, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reported [Wednesday].”
“Florida was one of the states leading the nation in charter school enrollment growth, adding about 23,500 new charter school students this year,” the Post reports.
In August, Scott said at a gathering for conservative politicians and organizations that his administration has done four things in education: eliminate more teacher tenure; pay teachers based on standardized test results; support and increase charter schools (which Scott defined as public schools run by a third party); and offer scholarships.