DeSantis education budget invests record funding for public schools

DeSantis education budget invests record funding for public schools

November 11, 2021 0 By Bethany Blankley

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday released his education budget, which would invest a record amount of funding for Florida’s public schools.

It includes a second-straight year of $1,000 bonuses for 177,000 teachers and principals. It also allocates $600 million to raise minimum teacher salaries for the third year in a row, from $40,000 to $47,500, representing a $50 million budget increase over the past year.

It also increases per-student funding by $200 each to the highest in Florida’s history at $8,000 per student.

He unveiled the plan at a press briefing at Jacksonville Classical Academy, saying, “Our goal is to increase, particularly, the average minimum salary in the state of Florida so we can continue to attract great people into the teaching profession.”

“We’ve done an awful lot since I became governor,” he added. “We’ve invested in increasing teacher pay, we’ve invested in early learning, we’ve expanded school choice, we’ve invested in vocational, technical education, and we really want to be able to keep that momentum going.”

The FY 2022-2023 education budget proposal also includes $421 million for school safety and mental health initiatives. This includes $210 million for the safe schools program, an increase of $30 million over the previous year; $140 million for mental health, a $20 million increase over the previous year; $42 million for school hardening grants; and $4 million for safety initiatives at Jewish Day Schools.

Funding also goes toward education initiatives and innovative education programs. This includes $15.5 million in recurring funds to provide progress monitoring tools to schools. This will allow progress monitors to replace and eliminate the Florida Standards Assessment.

It also includes $500,000 to expand access to the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative into every school district in the 2022-2023 school year. This is in addition to the $106 million the governor announced earlier this year to provide teacher bonuses for earning a Florida Civics Seal of Excellence.

The budget proposal also allocates $534 million to support workforce education programs, which would make Florida the number one state for Workforce Education by 2030.

The budget proposal also includes $100 million for the Workforce Development Capitalization Grant Program, which will create and expand workforce development programs at Florida’s school districts and state colleges.

The Florida Education Association tweeted of the announcement, “For the 3rd year in a row, Gov. DeSantis has announced he plans to recruit teachers by raising starting pay. If that worked, it would’ve worked. Two years into his initiative, FL has seen an exodus of teachers leaving 100s of thousands of students without a highly qualified teacher.

“Instead of trying the same thing over again, Gov. DeSantis should consider FEA’s legislative priorities, which contain ideas developed by teachers and education staff professionals who work with our students every day.”

DeSantis didn’t give a total dollar amount for the education section of the budget. The entire proposed state spending plan for 2022 is due Dec. 12.

Of the state’s budget position, he said, Florida’s “reserves are incredibly healthy, particularly given what people were projecting when COVID first hit. Every month we tend to bring in significantly more revenue over the revenue estimates. And that’s a function and really a reflection of the strength of Florida’s economy.”

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