Sunday, August 19, 2018
Education

Romano: What does 47 cents buy? Florida schools are about to find out

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column that explained how the Florida Legislature had ignored a decade’s worth of requests for additional funding for school safety.

Year after year, lawmakers were told that schools needed more money for cameras, locked entries and campus police officers. And yet the allowance for school safety was even lower than 15 years ago.

The horror of Parkland changed all of that. Legislators dropped what they were doing in the final weeks of the session, and came up with a budget that included a sizable boost for school safety.

This was a victory, they said, for the students. For the parents.

They even patted themselves on the back for a job well done.

There’s just one problem:

They have robbed education to pay for safety.

Superintendents for the largest school districts in Florida say the safety plans will eat up their entire allowance, and force them to dip into general classroom funds to make ends meet.

"Inexplicably, this year’s Ed budget is historically disappointing for South FL schools.,’’ Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho wrote on Twitter.

"The Legislature’s proposed budget, if passed, will force Florida school districts to cut millions of dollars from our budgets — cuts that will impact our schools, our communities and the children we serve,’’ Broward superintendent Robert Runcie wrote in an op-ed.

"The question is are we putting the cost of school safety onto the backs of our hard-working teachers and the students,’’ Pinellas superintendent Mike Grego said Monday.

Legislators were quick to point out that school funding is increasing by $101.50 per pupil, but much of that increase is devoted to safety measures and other funds tied to specific earmarks.

The actual increase for the base student allowance?

Yeah, that works out to 47 cents per student.

In other words, any inflationary increases — such as the cost of fuel or electricity or insurance or retirement contributions or raises or health care — come out of that 47-cent increase.

And it’s not like legislators weren’t aware of this.

Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, explained it in simple terms before the budget was approved by the Senate and House on Sunday.

"The cost of doing business is not covered by 47 cents,’’ he said. "Florida school districts will have to cut programs. We will have to find a way to save money and scrape by. We told them to put a school resource officer in every school, and then we don’t give them money to pay for it.’’

Because of a complex funding formula, it appears most of the larger school districts will get less than the $101.50 state average increase while some smaller counties will get triple that amount. Hernando is scheduled for $119.18 per student, Pasco will get $88.49, Hillsborough will get $83.85 and Pinellas will get $73.12.

Pinellas was already covering a significant portion of the cost of resource officers, and now it could be spending as much as $5 million more than what the state is providing. It is the cost, Grego said, to ensure every school has a trained officer on campus.

The goal is to meet these demands without effecting other parts of the budget, but it’s hard to see how it can be done without cuts.

"It’s almost inevitable,’’ he said.

Comments

Epilogue: Tampa’s Mother Teresa, Delia Sanchez, remembered as child welfare champion

Delia P. Sanchez collected things — purses, shoes, newspapers. She hid them away in a storage unit, out of sight from her tidy husband. She had her reasons. And not one of them was selfish. The extra accessories? Those were for the mothers of...
Published: 08/18/18
A USF milestone: Three new dorms, more than 6,300 students living on campus

A USF milestone: Three new dorms, more than 6,300 students living on campus

TAMPA — The paint on Pinnacle Hall’s white-and-gold walls still smelled fresh as Lilly Myskey led a parade of parents and bins and bags down the hall toward her new room at the University of South Florida. "Speaking of the building being brand-new, L...
Published: 08/17/18
Florida girl denied school lunch because she was 15 cents short, mother says

Florida girl denied school lunch because she was 15 cents short, mother says

A sophomore at University High School in Volusia County was denied lunch on her first day of school Tuesday because she owed 15 cents, according to WKMG in Orlando.The girl’s mother, Kimberly Aiken, told WKMG a cashier in the school’s lunchroom threw...
Published: 08/16/18
Brooksville pastor challenges longtime principal trying for reelection to Hernando’s District 5 School Board seat

Brooksville pastor challenges longtime principal trying for reelection to Hernando’s District 5 School Board seat

Hernando County School Board District 5 incumbent Susan Duval seconded the motion to fire superintendent Lori Romano on June 12. And that’s why Joe Santerelli said he filed to run against her about a week later.A week after that, the local pastor spo...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Candidates for Hernando’s District 3 School Board seat talk mental health, technical education

Candidates for Hernando’s District 3 School Board seat talk mental health, technical education

As Hernando County School Board member Beth Narverud makes her run for a spot on the County Commission, three hopefuls are running to fill her District 3 seat.One is Jimmy Lodato, a Tampa native and 19-year Hernando resident. Retired from a career in...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Incumbent chairman and newcomer battle for Hernando’s District 1 School Board seat

Incumbent chairman and newcomer battle for Hernando’s District 1 School Board seat

Mark Johnson was elected to the Hernando County School Board in 2014. He said his successful track record, combined with local business savvy, make him the clear choice over Catherine "Kay" Hatch for the District 1 seat."It’s not just an opportunity ...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Corbett Prep marks 50th year with compassionate stories, family love

Corbett Prep marks 50th year with compassionate stories, family love

TAMPA — Sammi Borosh sat Tuesday afternoon in one of those tiny chairs for kindergartners and looked across the table at four of her former teachers — and her eyes misted.Borosh said she loved those four ladies and she loved the school where they tau...
Published: 08/15/18
For this Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, start of school is ‘beginning of the end’

For this Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, start of school is ‘beginning of the end’

Barbara Ojago saw her grandson’s first day back at school as the beginning of the end.Her grandson, Emea, will finish his senior year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. But Emea returns to a school forever changed by a former student he pe...
Published: 08/15/18
Pinellas plans new arts and gifted magnet schools in north county

Pinellas plans new arts and gifted magnet schools in north county

Next school year, if all goes according to plan, two new programs will expand the slate of options for Pinellas County elementary students — a conservatory for the arts in Clearwater and a gifted center in Palm Harbor.The programs, which will go befo...
Published: 08/15/18
Report card on ousted Hernando schools superintendent shows little change from last year

Report card on ousted Hernando schools superintendent shows little change from last year

BROOKSVILLE — Two months after firing superintendent Lori Romano, the Hernando County School Board on Tuesday reviewed results of a second district-wide survey to evaluate her performance, finding that little changed from last year.Romano’s overall a...
Published: 08/15/18