The superintendent for Pinellas County public schools is slamming the proposed state budget that lawmakers are poised to pass Sunday because he says it will leave his school district with a nearly $3 million funding deficit.
“It’s clear that the additional safe schools and mental health funding has come on the backs of teachers and students,” Michael Grego wrote in an open letter.
The $88.7 billion state budget proposed for the 2018-19 fiscal year includes a significant funding boost for mental health services and school security in response to the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland that left 17 dead.
Gov. Rick Scott signed the $400 million “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Act” into law on Friday.
Grego is in favor of the Legislature excluding most teachers from being armed, but has yet to determine if Pinellas County will participate in the program. And while he has been for expanding mental health services and safety measures, Grego said the money allotted to public education is not enough to cover operational costs like utilities, health care coverage for employees and other areas impacted by inflation.
“We will not be able to cover the cost of providing students the education they deserve if elected officials approve the state budget as currently proposed,” Grego said.
Grego says his district will get $2.2 million. From that, he says, $2.9 million must be spent on school resource officers and $2.2 million must go to pay for mental health services.
“Increased spending on safety and mental health needs to accompany sufficient funding for the heart of our work — educating our students,” Grego said.
Read Grego’s letter below: