Florida Governor Ron DeSantis unveiled his proposed budget for Florida Fiscal Year 2023–2024, which includes $26 billion in funding of public education, of which $14.1 billion is record state funding for the K-12 public school system.
"This is a great budget for education in the state of Florida," DeSantis said. "This budget will have a record $26 billion dollars for K-12 education, $1.6 billion for early childhood learning and for VPK, and $1 billion for salary increases for teachers in our categorical budget."
As DeSantis outlined the education budget at a press conference, he explained how school unions impacted fund distribution during the previous fiscal year.
"When you increase education spending, and you have school unions that will use that for different things, and it doesn't go to teachers," DeSantis said. "So, we said, this can only go for teacher salaries. We put this in several years ago, and we've increased it every year. This is a $200 million increase from last year, but it's frustrating. We did that last year and we signed the budget last spring, but we had some school districts that hadn't paid their teachers more when they had the money, because this is all playing politics with that money. This is the biggest investment that's ever been made, but I think they [school districts] need to pay them on schedule, so maybe we'll put something in there to make sure that they actually do it and they don't drag it out. It's a big win-win for teachers."
Florida will have an increase of $205 in per-pupil spending, $8,453 per student, the largest increase in state history. School safety and mental health programs will get $400,000 an increase of $60 million. The budget includes a total of more than $451 million for Florida’s VPK program. This investment maintains the base student allocation for the school year and summer programs of $2,803 per student and $2,393 per student, respectively. VPK will prepare approximately 155,000 four and five-year olds for kindergarten.
INCREASED FUNDING FOR SCHOOL SAFETY
DeSantis' proposed budget increases funding to a variety of school safety programs, including: $250 million, an increase of $40 million, for the safe schools component of the Florida Education Finance Program. The Office of Safe Schools serves as a central repository for best practices, training standards and compliance oversight in all matters regarding school safety and security. Our mission is to support districts in providing a safe learning environment for students and educators.
Other funds involving school safety proposed in the budget include $42 million is provided for public school hardening grants, $6.5 million to maintain the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program that will be used to certify and train school guardians, $5.5 million to maintain the Youth Mental Health Awareness and Assistance Training program, $3 million is maintained to continue providing a centralized integrated data repository and data analytics resources to improve access to timely, complete and accurate information, and $845,000 is maintained for the Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool.
PRESERVED FUNDING FOR COMPUTER SCIENCE INITIATIVES
DeSantis' proposed budget maintains the $10 million in funding provided in Fiscal Year 2022-23 to continue providing professional development and fund costs associated with training for teachers to earn educator certificates or industry certifications in computer science. The initiative also provides bonuses to teachers who earned an educator certificate or industry certification who are teaching computer science courses.
EXPANDED FUNDING FOR CIVICS EDUCATION
DeSantis' budget maintains $1 million in funding to expand the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative. In addition, the Governor’s recommended budget includes $3.5 million in funding to provide support to school districts for the improvement of civic literacy for Florida’s students using regional civics literacy captains and coaches. The budget also includes $3 million for civic education curriculum.
PRESERVES FUNDING FOR BRIGHT FUTURES COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS
The budget includes a total of $614.5 million, for the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. Funding ensures the Florida Academic Scholars award will continue to cover 100 percent of tuition and fees and the Florida Medallion Scholars award will continue to cover 75 percent of tuition and fees for qualifying students, for all semesters, including summer.
To see more details from Governor DeSantis' budget, visit frameworkforfreedombudget.com
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