Budget conference: Lawmakers agree to PreK-12 schools funding levels
Desks in empty dark high, middle, or elementary school classroom with light coming through windows.

Desks in empty dark high, middle, or elementary school classroom with light coming through windows.
There's a $202 million increase for teacher salaries.

PreK-12 public schools will get a funding boost next year, including a $202 million hike in teacher pay, after lawmakers reached a deal Wednesday evening on the Florida Education Finance Program, the main funding formula for schools.

In the latest Senate offer the chamber increased the level of teacher pay funding to match the House position. The House had previously accepted the Senate push for $40 million more in safe schools funding and $20 million more for mental health funding.

Overall, PreK-12 schools will get $28.4 billion for the fiscal year that starts July 1, a $1.8 billion increase on the current year. That comes to $8,959 per student, a $240 increase on the current year.

There remain differences between the chambers, however, over other areas of the education budget, and the main negotiators in the House and Senate, Rep. Josie Tomkow, a Polk City Republican, and Sen. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican, could meet again Thursday to resolve outstanding issues.

Those differences include the New Worlds Scholarship program, which was funded at $20 million in the House budget but the Senate’s latest offer left it at $7.5 million. The Senate also offered $7 million for the Florida Civics Seal of Excellence program, half of the $14 million preferred by the House. Another difference is over the workload for the Early Childhood Music Education program, where the Senate prefers $2 million but the House has no funding. The House also has a $5 million grant program to study artificial intelligence, but the Senate has no funding for it.

The chambers also remain divided on how much to set aside in case schools need extra funds to adjust to student enrollment numbers. The Senate set aside $350 million in its budget, allowing the Department of Education to request a budget amendment from the Legislative Budget Commission if the money were needed. In its latest offer, the House put aside $50 million, having not addressed the issue in its initial budget.

Gray Rohrer

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 29, 2024 at 9:59 am

    $200+ million for teacher raises? Okay. How about a bail bond payment pool for teachers who get arrested for TIF (Teaching In Florida)?

Comments are closed.


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