Gov. Rick Scott has said that the 2012-2013 state budget he will sign Tuesday, which includes a $1 billion increase for K-12 public education over the 2011 budget, is a significant investment, a statement the Florida Education Association disputes.
Scott said last week, “I look forward to signing this billion-dollar increase in funding next week. Thank you to everyone who made this significant investment in our schools possible.”
The Florida Education Finance Program (.pdf) shows the 2012-2012 budget total would be $9.5 billion. The 2011 budget was $8.7 billion.
despite this boost in spending, total school funding will not change much next year, as local school districts will have to use the added state money to make up for the loss of federal funding, an increase in enrollment and a drop in local property taxes. Since the budget was approved, officials at school districts throughout the state said they were considering layoffs of teachers and other school employees, curtailing arts programs and athletics for students. They’re faced with cutting their budgets for next year, increasing the pain already suffered over the past five years.
This latest statement from the Education Association adds that
Scott, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon have crowed that the boost in education funding shows their commitment to education. But they don’t want you to remember that they slashed education funding drastically last year. In this budget, per-pupil funding next year will still be $435 below last year and more than $700 below where it was four years ago.
According to the union, the budget includes money “for expanding charter schools and increasing money for corporate voucher schools,” and “for the second year in a row, Florida’s traditional K-12 public schools will not receive money from the state for school maintenance, repairs or renovations, allowing our schools to fall further into decay. All of the trust fund allocations in the K-12 arena will go to charter schools. Higher education will receive a very small portion.”
In December 2011, Scott proposed $1 billion in new money for K-12 Florida schools.
The Education Association, which represents 140,000 state teachers and support professionals, said in December that if Scott’s “budget proposal is enacted, spending will still stand nearly $800 per student less than our state’s commitment to education five years ago, the unfunded mandates are still in place, pre-K remains woefully underfunded and the brain drain at our public colleges and universities continues as universities in other states continue to gobble up our professors.”