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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida Senate PreK-12 Appopriations chair proposes increases in prekindergarten, per-student funding



Florida's prekindergarten through high school public education system could see increases in funding under the budget proposal unveiled Tuesday in the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.

Chairman Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said the spending plan would bring the state's voluntary prekindergarten program to its highest level of funding since its creation 15 years ago. It also would bump up per-student K-12 funding 2.91 percent, a higher percentage than in three of the past five years, Simmons said.

He and staff built the budget without change to the required local effort on taxes, which would mean local property owners could see the amount they pay in taxes rise if their values went up. Leaders in the Florida House have said they would not support any tax increases, but also have indicated they wanted to put more money into prekindergarten through high school funding.

The House has recommended cuts in higher education funding, which might be where some of the added money comes from. The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee is to present its budget proposal later in the day.

Some of the highlights of Simmons' recommendations include:

- $16.6 million more for VPK, increasing the base student allocation from $2,437 to $2,529
- $790 million more for FEFP, increasing the base student allocation from $7,205 to $7,414. It is to account for 27,368 more students. 
- $34 million more for Gardiner Scholarships supporting special education students
- $84.6 million for added reading instruction for the state's lowest performing elementary schools
- $13.3 million more for instructional materials
- $14.6 million reduction for virtual education
- $14 million reduction for standardized student attire incentive

The Senate PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to meet again Wednesday.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 10:10am]


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