The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education is recommending $23.2 billion for Pre-K-12 and higher education in Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
That’s an increase of $762 million over the current year budget.
The subcommittee recommends $825 million for pay increases and bonuses for teachers, which is less than the $900 million Gov. Ron DeSantis included in his recommended budget. It would dedicate $500 million instead of $600 million for raising teacher compensation to $47,500 for about 100,000 teachers across the state. School districts could also use $325 million in flexible funding for salary increases.
Under the subcommittee’s proposal, districts would be required to use 80% of their total allocations to increase minimum classroom teacher salaries toward meeting the Governor’s goal of raising salaries to $47,500 with the intent that it would be met over the next several years. After districts meet that goal and minimum salary increases of at least 5%, districts would be authorized to spend remaining funds on pay raises for other teachers. Districts can also spend the other 20% of allocations on pay raises for veteran teachers, who have complained DeSantis’ pay plan doesn’t help them.
The subcommittee cuts $40 million for Schools of Hope. Those are charter schools that serve underperforming populations. The proposed committee budget recommends appropriating $40 million for Gardiner Scholarships for special needs students to build personalized education plans and $42 million for grants to harden schools to increase safety. The proposed budget would give $1.7 million to cover an expected increase in the number of students participating in the Voluntary Pre-K program and $2.8 million in additional funds for Community School Grants.
Subcommittee members are proposing $30 million for the Florida College System’s new tier-based funding and keeps $30 million in performance-based incentive funding. The proposal also includes $80 million for state universities and private colleges and funds the Effective Access to Student Education (EASE) and Access to Better Learning and Education (ABLE) grants for first time undergraduate college students at their current levels.
The House Higher Education Subcommittee, which is laying out its proposed budget this afternoon, proposed cutting EASE and ABLE as an exercise in reprioritizing funds to identify potential savings.
The proposed committee budget also funds workload increases for the Bright Futures Scholarship program, the Benacquisto Scholarship program and the Children & Spouses of Deceased/ Disabled Veterans program.