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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

The extra billion doesn't cut it, Florida teachers union says



 As Florida Gov. Rick Scott prepares to sign the state's FY2013 $70 billion budget, the governor wants Floridians to think about how he convinced lawmakers to add $1 billion to education funding.

The Florida Education Association wants Floridians to remember how Scott gutted education funding just a year ago by more than the billion dollars he's so excited about now. District leaders across the state are still talking about another year of no raises, possible furloughs and layoffs, and added spending cuts.

From the FEA's news release:

"Scott is touting $1 billion in increases to the school budget. But 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.

"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. Scott and legislative leaders haven’t given one extra dime to pay for higher standards in our schools or all the new tests mandated by the Legislature last year. And this budget fails to cover the full cost of transportation, increases in insurance and health care costs and more.

"This budget doesn’t address the real damage done to our schools over the past several years. It won’t replace the thousands of teacher and ESP jobs that were slashed after the last budget was passed in 2011. This budget won’t replace the lost programs for students that have had to be sacrificed in recent years. This budget helps cover the loss of emergency federal funding, the loss of property taxes because of lower property values and the expected increase of students during the next school year. But it won’t prevent the larger class sizes or stop the loss of arts, music and athletic programs."

FEA president Andy Ford will be making more comments after the governor gets his say. What are you expecting to see in the new budget year for schools?

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 6:48am]


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