TALLAHASSEE, Florida – Although not yet signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, the new state budget receives high marks from educators.
A mix of federal funds and a recovering economy made up for what was going to be a dismal year for funding.
On the opening day of the legislature, the governor issued a warning.
“I reject the cuts to funding for K-12 education,” DeSantis said.
At the time, general cuts seemed likely.
Instead, funding per student is up $ 39.
There are also bonuses of $ 1,000 for teachers and $ 550 million to increase the salaries of beginning teachers.
“Fortunately, we have a state with a thriving economy,” said Andrea Messina, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association.
But the Florida Education Association, which applauds lawmakers, argues the increase does nothing to keep veteran teachers.
“Look, someone who comes into the profession who is told that you are going to make $ 47,500 to start, but that you won’t get anywhere for the next ten to fifteen years, who stays in the profession, is isn’t it? FEA President Andrew Spar said.
Lawmakers also left local school taxes as they stood.
This is called the local effort required and it means that if a home’s value goes up, homeowners will pay more.
This is a statewide increase of $ 201 million.
“The local effort required is really what has paid for the growth of public schools,” Messina said.
And the union is calling on lawmakers, who are back next week to agree to a $ 500 million a year gambling contract with the Seminole tribe, to use that money to keep teachers in the classroom.
“This is an opportunity to increase support for our public schools, which all parents want,” said Spar.
But how lawmakers use gambling money will likely wait a year, in anticipation of lawsuits challenging the deal.
The budget also sets aside nearly $ 500 million to fund the thousands of students who dropped out or did not show up to class last fall due to the pandemic, but who are expected to return this fall.
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