Budget conference: Chambers move closer on K-12 school funding, teacher pay hike differences remain
Florida has one of the largest populations dealing with Altzheimer's disease. Keith Perry wants to work on that.

'We hope to settle most everything here in this committee.'

Florida lawmakers inched closer to an agreement on pre-K-12 schools funding, with the House coming to Senate spending levels for mental health and school security funding, but the chambers remain divided on how to boost teacher pay.

In the latest House offer the total public schools budget would be $28.4 billion, a $1.8 billion increase over the current year. That comes to $8,959 per student, a $240 increase over the current year.

The House agreed to spend $290 million for the safe schools portion of the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), the main funding formula for public schools. That’s $40 million more than the budget (HB 5001) it passed earlier in the Session. The latest offer also matched the Senate preference for $180 million for mental health assistance, or $20 million more than the original House budget.

But the chambers remain apart on teacher pay raises. The Senate’s initial budget set aside money within the FEFP for school districts with the intention for the money to be used for teacher pay. But school districts would have greater discretion on how to spend the funds. The House is sticking to its plan to put $1.25 billion toward boosting salaries for instructional personnel, a $202 million increase over the current year, but directs the money specifically for salary hikes.

Top House and Senate budget negotiators said they hope to bridge the gap on teacher pay funding among themselves, without “bumping” the issue to the full Appropriations Committee.

“We hope to settle most everything here in this committee,” said Sen. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican and Chair of the Senate PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.

Another major difference in the budget includes $20 million the House prefers for the New Worlds Reading Initiative to promote early literacy; the Senate doesn’t fund the program. The House also includes $10 million for a program to recruit military veterans to teach in classrooms; the Senate doesn’t fund the program.

Gray Rohrer

One comment

  • Glynnda J White

    February 29, 2024 at 7:44 am

    Well lots of spending by the scaredy cat Republicans and the reptile democrats but what about accountability….are we ever going to ask our schools to become accountable for the money spent on them? I’m thinking between reptiles and scaredy cats the answer is no. We need to go FULL SCHOOL CHOICE.

Comments are closed.


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