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September 20, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Commissioner Winn Announces 2007-2008 Education Budget Request

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced the 2007-2008 education budget request from the Florida Department of Education — the highest request ever approved by the State Board of Education. The budget request includes $21.1 billion for the K-20 operating budget, a 9.87 percent increase over the current appropriation. The State Board of Education approved the budget during its meeting in Tallahassee yesterday.

"This ambitious budget will make certain we continue to bolster reading instruction, reform secondary education and reward high-performing teachers," said Commissioner Winn. "We must wisely invest these dollars to prepare students for academic success now and in the future."

The 2007-2008 budget recommendations:

FEFP Funding — For the Florida Education Finance Program an increase of more than 10 percent for a total of $20.2 billion. Funding per student is requested at $7,405, an increase of 9 percent compared to the current appropriation.

Class Size — To ensure compliance for the class size mandate, the Department of Education is requesting $2.9 billion, an increase of 33 percent compared to the current budget appropriation. To date, this will be the largest appropriation for class size.

Pay For Performance Plan — The funding request for the Special Teachers Are Rewarded Plan, created by the 2006 Florida Legislature to recognize and reward outstanding teachers, is $162.6 million, an increase of 10.24 percent. This will help Florida reward teachers, assistant principals and principals for their high-performance.

Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK) — The VPK program is helping Florida's youngest students develop critical readiness and literary skills necessary to succeed in school. Included in the budget request is $441.6 million to serve an estimated 158,078 four-year-olds.

Reading Initiatives — Reading instruction is a key component to make certain that students succeed in all subjects. To expand reading instruction in Florida, the budget request includes $215.8 million for the Just Read, Florida! program. Of this amount, $137.8 million is funded through the FEFP.

Community College and Workforce Education Program — Florida faces critical workforce shortages in nursing, education and manufacturing. Through Community College and Workforce Education programs, the Department of Education is helping meet the demand of these shortages. The budget request for Workforce Education includes $621 million, which is $63 million or an 11.3 percent increase over the current appropriation. The budget request for Community Colleges includes $1.3 billion which is $109 million or a more than nine percent increase over the current appropriation.

Student Financial Aid — The budget request includes a 15.3 percent increase in state student financial aid programs for a total of $566.6 million. The Bright Futures Scholarship Program that rewards high school students for academic achievement will have an increase of more than $22 million — expanding opportunities for an estimated 159,800 students.

"An increase of more than 10 percent in the FEFP means more money for our schools to invest in increasing student learning gains," said Florida State Board of Education Chairman Philip Handy. "This is the strongest budget we have put forth because it is built with buy-in from our stakeholders and reflects the strategic imperatives of the board."