Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Florida Board of Education explores flexibility for school guardian funding

Taking a lead from Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Board of Education member Michael Olenick on Friday pushed his colleagues to offer school districts flexibility in how they spend money set aside for security in the state budget.

"They're asking for this, and I think it's the least we can do," Olenick said, during discussion of the board's 2019-20 legislative budget request.

The budget request includes $67.5 million for districts to hire school guards — funds that cannot go toward other security expenses, including sworn law enforcement resource officers.

Scott asked the Joint Legislative Budget Commission to release $58 million in guardian funding that has gone unused this year. The commission ignored that request in its Friday hourlong meeting.

Olenick aimed to infuse the idea of more flexible use of funds into the coming year's spending plan. He noted that school districts have struggled to meet the security requirements set by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act, and that their leaders know best how to protect their students.

The state superintendents association advocated on Thursday for the transfer of unused guardian funds to school general operations, so they can hire more resource officers and pay for school hardening projects. (See the group's letter for details.)

"I don't have the responsibility that they do," Olenick said, suggesting the board defer to local judgment and encourage lawmakers to do the same.

Board member Ben Gibson, a one-time Scott adviser, agreed that "we want flexibility." At the same time, he added, "can we also see how this program works?"

He noted that the guard concept has had just a few months to play out, and no one has results on whether it works well. Gibson suggested tying the idea of any flexibility to a legislative evaluation of the actual operations.

Olenick said he was not interested in postponing the recommendation. He made a motion to include his idea in the legislative budget request as a suggested policy objective.

His motion failed, after no one offered a second.

Afterward, board chairwoman Marva Johnson said she would be interested in having further discussion on spending flexibility, separate from the budget request but  in advance of the legislative session.

Comments
Florida education news: Oversight, choice, growth and more

Florida education news: Oversight, choice, growth and more

OVERSIGHT: To help convince voters to support its cause, the Hillsborough County school district announces well-respected Betty Castor will head a committee to review spending of revenue from a requested sales tax increase. The money would be de...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pasco schools see higher enrollment growth than projected

Pasco schools see higher enrollment growth than projected

In discussing pay raises, Pasco County school district officials have asked their employee negotiating groups to wait and see if more students turn up than expected.The state projected district enrollment to rise by 1,001 children. Any more than that...
Published: 09/17/18
Pasco school district changes its choice application procedures

Pasco school district changes its choice application procedures

Pasco County parents seeking to send their children to schools other than the ones they're assigned to will face a new set of deadlines this fall, as the district streamlines its process.Instead of separating the applications between magnet and open ...
Published: 09/17/18
Florida education news: School security, teacher pay, drinking water and more

Florida education news: School security, teacher pay, drinking water and more

SECURITY: The Florida Board of Education discusses ways to offer school districts more flexibility in the way they use future guardian funding. State lawmakers, however, aren't ready to release unused money from the current year allocation, TC P...
Published: 09/17/18
ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Sept. 9, 2018

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Sept. 9, 2018

School security remains a point of high concern for Florida schools. When it comes to funding, there’s talk of spending more. Yet when the idea of giving school districts flexibility in deciding how to use the money, there’s not too much ...
Published: 09/15/18
On the campaign trail with Hillsborough School Board candidate Karen Perez

On the campaign trail with Hillsborough School Board candidate Karen Perez

The Tampa Bay Times was not able to interview Karen Perez during her primary campaign for Hillsborough County School Board. After she placed second in a six-way districtwide race to replace April Griffin, we invited her again to complete our que...
Published: 09/14/18
Updated: 09/15/18
Les Muma, a familiar face at USF, will lead the search for its next president

Les Muma, a familiar face at USF, will lead the search for its next president

A familiar face will be leading the University of South Florida's quest to find a replacement for retiring president Judy Genshaft. Les Muma will chair the search committee, USF board of trustees chairman Brian Lamb announced Friday.Muma and his wife...
Published: 09/14/18
Meet this year’s National Merit Semifinalists from Tampa Bay

Meet this year’s National Merit Semifinalists from Tampa Bay

A total of 126 students from around the Tampa Bay area were announced this week as semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship program. They were among 16,000 semifinalists nationwide.Taken together, they are said to represent the top 1 perc...
Published: 09/14/18
Florida Board of Education explores flexibility for school guardian funding

Florida Board of Education explores flexibility for school guardian funding

Taking a lead from Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Board of Education member Michael Olenick on Friday pushed his colleagues to offer school districts flexibility in how they spend money set aside for security in the state budget."They're asking for this, a...
Published: 09/14/18
Pasco teachers union calls for tax referendum to fund pay raises

Pasco teachers union calls for tax referendum to fund pay raises

The president of Pasco County's school employees union is calling for a  referendum in which voters can decide whether to increase local property taxes so teachers and staff can get raises."USEP feels that the burden for coming up with additiona...
Published: 09/14/18