Thursday, September 20, 2018

Superintendents urge Florida legislative leaders to include education funding in any special session

Talk that the Florida Legislature might reconvene for a special session on gambling has prompted the state's school district leaders to advocate that education funding be included on any legislative call to order.

Broward County schools superintendent Robert Runcie sent House and Senate leaders a letter last week, asking they "address critical funding challenges facing public education" if they do meet.

"In order to attain the per student funding amount recommended by Governor Scott, Superintendents are requesting that the Legislature transfer the now unallocated $64 million resulting from the Governor's veto letter into the [base student allocation], and call on the Legislature to earmark funding resulting from or now made available on a recurring basis from legislation enacted during a gaming special session to increase the 2018-2019 Base Student Allocation," Runcie wrote as president of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.  "We estimate that the total cost to increase the BSA by $152 per student would be approximately $300 million."

He also wrote about districts' concern they do not have enough money or trained personnel to fully meet the demands of the state's new school safety law.

"Superintendents request that the Legislature transfer a majority of the funds earmarked for the Guardian Program to the Safe Schools allocation so that school districts may use the funds to hire or contract for school resource officers; and once that requirement is met, to use any remaining funds to enhance other safe school initiatives," Runcie wrote.

The superintendents made similar requests during and after the legislative session. They went so far as to urge Gov. Rick Scott to veto the state's education funding plan and start over.

That didn't happen, as the governor instead signed the budget and touted the funding levels in it.

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