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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida education changes require funding, State Board members say



Scott Kittel, the education budget point man for Gov. Rick Scott, explained the governor's public schools spending proposal to the Florida Board of Education on Tuesday, stressing Scott's desire to see policy changes even as he would cut funding by 15 percent.

State Board members said they back many of the ideas coming from the governor and Legislature, including new ways to evaluate and pay teachers. But to make the concepts successful, they said, requires money.

"Even though we have these major structural changes, they need to be funded fully in order to be effective," said board member Roberto Martinez, a Coral Gables attorney.

John Padget, a retired educator from the Keys, noted that salary projections offered to justify some of the changes suggest that a mid-level Miami-Dade teacher could make $148,000 a year. He also noted that promises made by past state leaders to support teacher pensions and health care benefits have now come under fire as too expensive.

"I'm just worried for the sake of feeling good offering teachers more than they're getting now, that we are creating ... some promises we just can't keep," Padget said.

Kittel said the governor's staff will continue to evaluate the effects of policy on budget.

Over in the House, meanwhile, lawmakers charged with creating an education budget met Tuesday morning to go over spending choices. They still don't have an allocation -- much hinges on another estimating conference later this week -- but they made clear that projects funded last year with nonrecurring money are not in line for another round of funding.

Overall, they projected a reduction of 7.7 percent -- more than the level that local district officials had expected but less than Scott's proposal. Look for more details to come next week.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 12:17pm]


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