Aiming to protect academic programs while meeting increased security demands, Florida's school superintendents have created a legislative platform that focuses heavily on convincing lawmakers to put more money into the system.
Having faced the scenario of adding guards or officers to all campuses, but without full funding from the Legislature, the superintendents association is asking for an increase in safe schools funds so they can expand coverage of that key security demand.
They renewed their request that lawmakers let schools use that money for any type of security officer, and not keep the cash in separate accounts for guards vs. law enforcement. Last year, millions of dollars sat untouched because of the division, even after Gov. Rick Scott proposed the money be released.
Focusing on the same 2018 legislation, the superintendents further have asked for added funding to support mandated mental health services, so they can meet the needs of students and their families.
Noting that many districts have turned to local taxpayers to approve higher tax rates for education, the superintendents have repeated their 2018 request to extend local option property tax increases to 10 year terms from the current four.
And aiming to turn around three years of forced tax rate reductions, they have suggested lawmakers leave the rates untouched so districts may take advantage of rising property values.
"Have growth pay for itself," the group's legislative platform states.
The money could go toward teacher salaries, particularly in light of an ongoing shortage in several key areas, the group notes.
The group has issued its proposals a month before lawmakers return to Tallahassee to begin committee sessions. The Florida School Boards Association released its platform in October.