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  1. Florida

Florida Board of Education to consider small per-student increase in its budget request

Granted, it's just a first draft of Florida's eventual education budget for 2016-17.

But the Florida Board of Education gets attention by being the first out of the gates with its $20.2 billion spending proposal for the coming academic year. Already, its recommendations aren't winning much acclaim.

Members of the state's school finance officers group noted that the Legislative Budget proposal would provide a $104.33 increase, or 1.47 percent, in per student funding, and $50 million more, or 0.46 percent, in state revenue for schools. See page 130 of this summary report for key details.

"I expected better given Florida's slow, but steady, economic recovery and our state's dismal national ranking in funding per student (42nd based on 2013 U.S. Census)," Palm Beach chief operating officer Mike Burke wrote to colleagues. "It's apparent the Finance Council's recommendations were not embraced and carry little weight in the state budget process. Please share these concerns with whomever you deem appropriate."

Among other key points in the budget request, the board will ask for $55 million to continue the Personalized Learning Scholarship Accounts, an additional $20 million for digital classrooms (for a total of $80 million), and $86.8 million to support an extra hour of reading instruction at the state's lowest performing schools. The third would be a new funding line item.

Foreshadowing the decline, if not outright demise, of the controversial Best and Brightest teacher scholarship, the board will consider suggesting a decrease in that fund from $44.5 million to $4.95 million.

The board also is looking at a 32 percent reduction in funding for districts that mandate student uniforms in elementary and middle grades, from $10 million down to $6.8 million.

The SBOE meets Wednesday in Gainesville. See the full agenda here.

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