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January 8, 2002
CONTACT: Elizabeth Hirst
Governor Bush Proposes Nearly $1 Billion in New Funding for Education
TALLAHASSEE Governor Jeb Bush and Lt. Governor Frank Brogan today announced their proposed 2002 K-20 Education Budget at Oakridge Elementary School. Prior to the press conference, Superintendent of Leon County Schools Bill Montford, Oak Ridge Elementary Principal Michele Crosby, and Florida State University President Sandy D'Alemberte led Governor Bush on a tour of three classrooms to highlight innovative reading programs. During the press conference, the Governor highlighted record education budget increases, expanded flexibility for the K-20 system, and several new and expanded policy-driven statewide initiatives.
"When we took office in 1999, Lt. Governor Brogan and I affirmed our commitment to education with the A+ plan in conjunction with historic spending increases. This vision has yielded higher accountability, rising student achievement, and greater flexibility for schools," said Governor Jeb Bush. "With the passage of this education budget, our schools will continue to see an increase in spending despite these difficult economic times. We have had to make some tough decisions, however our commitment to education has never wavered."
Over the last three years of Governor Bush's administration, the education budget for K-12 has seen an increase of 17.7%, nearly 2 billion dollars and a per student increase of 9.6% or $513 per pupil. If the Legislature approved today's budget proposal, the Governor's education budget would represent a cumulative 24.4% increase ($2.69 billion) in funding for education since he took office. The per student increase over the four year span would be 12.5% or $660 per student.
"We are extremely pleased with the Governor's education budget and his commitment to keep education funding the top priority in our state," said Wayne Blanton, the Executive Director of the Florida School Boards Association.
I. FUNDING OUR TOP PRIORITY
The Governor's proposed education budget includes $983 million in new funding for the K-20 education system. Total potential funds for K-12 education increases by $726 million to a total amount of $ 12.7 billion. This 6.1% increase in the FEFP is above the 3% increase in fiscal year 2001-2002. This equates to a 3% increase in per student funding, which includes funding for the projected 72,000 new public school students.
Total funding to state universities increases by $93 million (3.9%) to a total of $2.4 billion. The budget includes a 5% tuition increase for all students in the State University System and assumes with flexibility that universities will increase graduate and out-of-state tuition by an additional 5%, within guidelines established by the Florida Board of Education. In addition, the budget allocates an additional $48 million for universities to be spent as determined by each local board of trustees.
Total funding to community college system increases by 6.3% to a total of $1.2 billion. The budget also includes a 2.5% tuition increase for community colleges. Additionally, the budget proposes to increase workforce development spending by $25 million to restore community college funding to pre-Special Session levels and commits an additional $19 million in General Revenue to the community college program fund.
II. RETURNING FLEXIBILITY AND AUTHORITY TO OUR UNIVERSITIES
As part of the Governor's budget proposal, greater flexibility was provided to state universities, community colleges, and school districts. Not only will the budget allow universities to set tuition rates for graduate and out-of state students, it will also grant public universities independence over operational funding and decision-making, similar to what is currently enjoyed by community colleges.
The budget also provides $2 million for K-20 Leadership Training for key educators and education administrators on critical K-20 issues such as accountability, standards, administrative and academic best practices, remediation, and articulation to help ensure no student is left behind.
III. EXPANDING OUR COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION
The 2002 Governor's budget also includes policy-driven statewide initiatives:
Just Read, Florida! - $52 million
Governor Bush believes reading is the most powerful skill a child can learn, and reading influences their success in school and improves the overall quality of our life. The unequivocal goal is for all students in Florida to be able to read on grade level or higher by fourth grade, and to continue reading on grade level or higher throughout their school years. The Executive Order #01-260, signed on September 7, 2001, directs the Florida Department of Education to work with local school districts, educators, parents and community members to review current reading programs and to make recommendations on reading standards, effective strategies and reading course requirements. The Department will inventory and review reading programs utilized in Florida schools to provide an assessment of the effectiveness of these programs and determine the cost per student of these programs. The Department will also review recommended statewide standards for reading programs based on the latest scientific research. A final report is due by February 15, 2002. The Governor's FY 2002-03 budget recommends $10 million in state and $42 million in federal funds for K-8 reading programs.
Rewarding schools for achievement and improvement - $123.5 million
The A+ School Recognition Program recognizes schools that are achieving and showing improvement. For the 2000-2001 school year, 843 (out of 2,431) schools received an A grade or improved their letter grade, qualifying for a school recognition award ($100 per student). Each school determines how it will spend the reward money it receives from the School Recognition Program. This year, the Governor's budget proposes $123.5 million to support this incentive program for schools.
Helping low performing schools - $5 million
Schools with added challenges need our additional help and attention. The Governor's budget continues funding for low performing schools by providing $5 million.
Teacher Recruitment and Retention - $40 million
It is our goal that this money will give school districts the local flexibility to meet their unique teacher recruitment and retention needs. This funding is currently included in the FEFP.
Improving Technology - $3.9 million
This funding will be used to upgrade the state's K-20 education Internet network. The upgrade will provide a faster connection to the World Wide Web for classrooms and media centers.
Workforce Development - $5 million
The budget provides $5 million in workforce development to advance nursing and teaching programs in community colleges. In total, the budget proposes to increase workforce development spending by $25 million to restore community college funding to pre-Special Session levels and commits an additional $19 million in General Revenue to the community college program fund.
Mentoring - $13.1 million
The continued funding of the state's mentoring initiatives demonstrates the Governor's commitment to statewide mentoring programs. Through his Mentoring Initiative, Governor Bush is working to recruit 200,000 Floridians to become mentors. In coordination with state agencies, businesses, nonprofit associations, and Florida schools, this initiative is designed to help students excel. Statistics show that a young person who meets with a mentor is: 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 27% less likely to begin drinking alcohol, 52% less likely to skip school, and 33% less likely to engage in a fight.
The Governor and Lt. Governor were joined by Commissioner of Education Charlie Crist; Secretary of Education Jim Horne; Senator Don Sullivan, Chairman of Senate Education Appropriations; Rep. Evelyn Lynn, Chairman of House Education Appropriations; President of Florida State University Sandy D'Alemberte; Executive Director of the Florida School Boards Association Wayne Blanton.