For more than 30 years, I have worked with and on behalf of Florida students and I can honestly say this is the best time for education I have experienced. Florida has been recognized as a national leader for student achievement and teacher preparation and, to build on these successes, Governor Rick Scott has proposed historic funding for K-12 education, as well as policies that will help Florida students earn a college diploma faster and with less debt.
Our graduation rates are at an 11-year high, we’re ranked 7th in the nation for K-12 academic achievement and we have been successful at narrowing the achievement gap between African American and white students.
I credit the hardworking teachers and school staff members who come in early, leave late and spend the extra one-on-one time with students so that they are prepared for success in the classroom and in life.
In January, Governor Rick Scott unveiled his 2015-2016 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” Budget, and I pleased to share his strategic education investments:
- $19.75 billion in total funding for K-12 public schools, an increase of $842.5 million;
- $7,176 per student funding, an increase of $261 over the current school year and $50 above Florida’s previous record in 2007-2008;
- $20 million to create a Rapid Response Start-up Grant program for technical centers;
- $5 million to incentivize $10,000 STEM degrees at Florida Colleges;
- $1 million to facilitate partnerships with high-tech Florida companies;
- $80 million to assist districts in implementing their Digital Classroom plans;
- $164.6 million for maintenance, repair, and renovation of public schools educational facilities;
- $100 million for maintenance, repair, and restoration of charter schools;
- $23.5 million to expand Bright Futures to cover summer term courses; and
- The elimination of sales tax on college textbooks.
I had the honor of joining Governor Scott at Atlantic Technical College in Broward County where he announced his proposal to increase per-pupil funding in the 2105-16 fiscal year, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Governor Scott is truly a champion for education; we already had the highest total spending for our state’s education system last year and he is the first governor to have a specific appropriation dedicated to teacher pay raises.
Last year, Florida invested a total of $18.9 billion in K-12 education, which was the highest to that point. Now, the Governor is proposing an increase for a new record total of $19.75 billion to ensure Florida’s students have access to a world-class education. This amounts to a $261 per-student increase over this school year and a $50 increase from the previous record.
I credit Governor Scott’s commitment to job creation and overall economic growth for enabling us to have the additional funds to invest in education. I am confident that this investment will pay off for years to come as graduating students will be able to contribute to Florida’s economy once they enter the workforce.
Florida students are fortunate to have many of the nation’s best principals and teachers, and this new proposed funding will ensure they have the necessary resources to continue thriving.
To learn more and hear what stakeholders have to say, click here.