Florida schools, colleges growing, but state construction money has dried up
An unfinished university science lab. Leaky roofs in elementary schools. Plans for a new classroom put back on the shelf.
On campuses across Florida, these and other projects are stalled because the state fund that pays for school construction is broke. And it looks like there won't be any money for the next two years.
Blame all those people who gave up their land lines and bought energy efficient appliances. The fund known as PECO, used by schools exclusively for new buildings and maintenance, gets its money from a tax on telephones and electricity.
"We're probably never going to get back to where we were," state university system chancellor Frank Brogan told the Florida Board of Governors last week.
Despite the recession, Florida schools, colleges and universities are growing, and the state expects more than 30,000 new students next fall in the K-12 system. But no construction money.
All of those students will have to make do with what's there.
Public Education Capital Outlay is in a deficit — and it's rare for the D-word to be spoken aloud in the state Capitol, where deficit spending is prohibited under the state Constitution.