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An emotional exhibit at the Florida Holocaust Museum displays a rail car used to transport Jewish detainees during the Holocaust.

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Budget conference: Full funding directed to Florida Holocaust Museum

Sen. Ed Hooper requested $750,000 for the museum.

The Florida Holocaust Museum in downtown St. Petersburg will most likely receive its full funding request from the Florida Legislature .

Sen. Ed Hooper’s $750,000 appropriations request for the Pinellas County museum was closed out in budget conference late Saturday.

The money will provide non-recurring funds to the museum for things like salaries, new programming and education, artifact preservation and technology upgrades.

“I am so incredibly grateful to the Legislature and the Department of Education and the whole administration for understanding the importance of Holocaust education in general and our role throughout the state,” said Florida Holocaust Museum Executive Director Elizabeth Gelman.

While the funding could still be yanked from the budget as conferences continue through the weekend and into next week, it’s unlikely.

The funding allocates $75,000 for executive salary and benefits as well as $258,000 for other salaries and benefits.

Another $218,000 will cover expenses related to artifacts, Holocaust survivor testimony, art digitization and indexing as well as website updates, new hardware and software, exhibition design, fabrication and installation and repayment for loans one borrowed exhibits.

Another $199,000 will fund artifact conservation.

Hooper’s request claims the funding will expand museum programming and curricula for schools throughout the state. An analysis claims the museum reaches 150,000 people annually both inside the museum and through external outreach.

While the museum serves most publicly as a permanent exhibit in downtown St. Pete, the organization also partners with school districts statewide on Holocaust education delivery and training.

“We are a physical museum in Tampa Bay, but we also have a statewide mission where we are in classrooms and have a plethora of exhibitions that we send out freely throughout the state,” Gelman said.

She said the funding will allow the museum to further that mission by, among other things, being able to keep up with the technology that allows the organization to share information.

The museum received $300,000 in last year’s budget, less than half the $750,000 that was also requested in that budget by Rep. Nick DiCeglie. Last year’s request was identical to this year’s.

The funding comes as lawmakers appear poised to approve an update to the way Florida schools teach students about the Holocaust. Sen. Lauren Book’s SB 1628 would expand state law that already requires Holocaust education by also mandating students to be taught about anti-Semitism.

Her legislation also requires school districts and charter schools to annually certify to the Department of Education (DoE) schools are meeting those requirements.

Book’s bill is on the Senate’s special order calendar and a House companion is on its third reading.

Under the measures, the DoE would “work with the Florida Holocaust Museum and other state or nationally recognized Holocaust educational organizations to develop grade-appropriate curricula, training for instructional personnel, and classroom resources for the instruction required.”

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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