Pickens: Ed budget "not as bad as I expected"
The talk around Tallahassee was that education funding would take a hard hit of about $1.5-billion for the coming fiscal year. But the cuts don't look nearly that severe in the House budget proposal that hit the capitol this morning.
"It's not as bad as I expected it to be," Schools and Learning chairman Joe Pickens told his council as he reviewed a summary of the spending plan. He credited budget chairman Ray Sansom and speaker Marco Rubio for taking money from other places to keep schools comparatively shielded.
When taking into account spending shuffles, tuition increases and revenue decreases, the bottom line, he said, looks like a cut of $481.2-million, or 1.7 percent, for education K-20. "The reduction is much smaller than I anticipated," Pickens said.
The proposal includes these ideas:
- Level per-student funding for prekindergarten.
- An average decrease in per-student funding for K-12 of $86. Some districts would see larger cuts, while others including Hillsborough stand to see slight increases.
- Cuts in school recognition funding (to $90 per student), Florida lead teacher funding and school advisory committee funding.
- Elimination of the mentoring portion of the Excellent Teaching program for National Board certified teachers.
- Reduction of 16.3 percent of spending to the State Board of Education.
- A slight increase in community college funding (about 1 percent), after tuition increases.
- A slight reduction to university funding (about 2 percent), after tuition increases.
The Senate Education Appropriations committee meets later today. Pickens said he expects the House budget could be "very different" from the Senate's version.