MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Public school administrators, staff, and teachers across are giving a failing grade to the last minute education package.
A sweeping 278-page education package, which affects everything from charter schools to recess in public elementary schools, emerged late Friday from the budget process.
One thing that stood out for many public school administrators was that, if passed, they would have to do more with less since it cuts public education funding, specifically the Base Student Allocation.
"The Base Student Allocation is the amount of money the state provides per student and is the only source of flexible funding school districts receive. It is used to pay for new or continuing educational programs and salaries for our teachers and staff. The proposed state budget slashes the Base Student Allocation for the upcoming fiscal year by $27 per student, from $4,161 down to $4,134 per student," said Broward Schools Supervisor Robert Runcie in a statement to the Sun-Sentinel. "This is a significant blow to public education, particularly when you consider Florida's per-student funding is already below the national average."
Runcie said legislators are trying to spin the cut into an increase of $18 per student, but the money could only be used for certain purposes. Overall, Runcie said the proposed budget would result in the district having to cut over $6 million from the budget.
With legislators poised to pass the historic $83 billion budget, and the economy and property values increasing, many are questioning why the cut to public education funding, the first one since the Great Recession.
"The Legislature has not prioritized public education in its budget," said Runcie. "Instead of prioritizing our schools, the state's budget actually provides taxpayer dollars for incentives to lure out-of-state charter school operators to set up shop in our communities."
The House's "schools of hope" measure encourages charter schools with a track record of helping academically struggling students to open branches near traditional schools that continually do poorly on state report cards.
"If the level of funding weren't bad enough, the conforming bill traveling with the budget moves money to charter schools for capital expenses, making a bad situation worse. This policy means that taxpayers' money will be used to build and maintain classrooms that don't belong to the taxpayers," said Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho in a letter to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
Public school administrators are lawmakers not to pass the budget. They would public education to be made a priority, not new charter schools. They also want an increase in public education funding like the one originally proposed by Gov. Rick Scott which included an increase to the Base Student Allocation of $141 per student.
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