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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

As teacher tenure moves forward, schools could face nearly $217 million property-tax shortfall

11

March

A sweeping bill that would overhaul so-called teacher tenure and salaries swept through the Florida Senate on Thursday, but even its most ardent supporters admitted it still has to clear a major hurdle: how to pay for it.

The bill, whose House companion will be debated during two marathon sessions next week, would require principals to begin evaluating teachers in 2014 based on their students' performance on high-stakes tests and on other criteria school districts have yet to develop. Creating those assessments will take time and money from districts already bracing for painful cuts as the state tries to close a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

"I want money to be put into this bill," said Sen. Evelyn Lynn, an Ormond Beach Republican who ultimately voted for the proposal. But she remained optimistic on future funding: "It will come, but we've got to get the structure in place to do exactly what needs to be done."

The outlook, at least for the upcoming year, does not appear encouraging. Next year's property tax collections for schools statewide could be nearly $217 million lower when compared to this year's budget, if the current tax rate remains the same, according to the latest state estimates.

Moody's, the credit rating agency, issued a recent report saying Gov. Rick Scott's budget is "credit negative" for schools and warned budget cuts could require layoffs and "seriously impede" school districts from implementing state-mandated class-size reductions. Full story here.

[Last modified: Friday, March 11, 2011 1:34pm]

    

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