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PRESS RELEASE

February 2, 2007

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Crist/Kottkamp 2007-2008 Budget Recommendations Fund Education at Record Levels

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Charlie Crist and Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp today announced the 2007-08 education budget recommendations to fund Florida’s public schools at record levels. The budget recommendation of $33 billion is a $1.3 billion increase over the current year to ensure Florida’s education system continues to prepare students for academic success, postsecondary education and the workforce.

“Investing in Florida’s education is the wisest investment we can make to ensure a better Florida,” said Governor Crist. “These budget recommendations mean smaller classes, more reading coaches, more opportunities for students to attend college and more money in the pockets of outstanding teachers.”

The Crist/Kottkamp budget recommendations include:

  • Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) Funding — For the FEFP an increase of more than 7 percent, for a total of $19.4 billion. The recommendations include increasing per pupil spending to $7,341, an increase of more than 7 percent compared to the current funding.

  • Class Size — To ensure compliance with the Constitutional Amendment approved by voters in 2002, Governor Crist recommends $3.8 billion to reduce class size. This includes a 29-percent increase providing $2.7 billion in operating funds. In addition, there is $1.1 billion provided for fixed capital outlay. To date, this will be the largest appropriation for class size.

  • Pay for Performance Plan — The funding request for the school district performance pay plans that recognize and reward outstanding teachers is $295 million, a 100 percent increase. Governor Crist recommends increasing the amount rewarded to high-performing teachers from 5 to 10 percent.

  • Virtual Tutoring – The budget recommendations include a $10 million proposal for an online, virtual tutoring program. “Pathways to Success” will be available to all of Florida’s public school students and be aligned with the Sunshine State Standards.

  • Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK) — The VPK program is helping Florida’s youngest students develop critical readiness and literacy skills necessary to succeed in school. Included in the budget request is $388.1 million to serve an estimated 145,188 four-year-olds, 21,000 more students than the current year. This will increase the amount of per pupil spending to $2,622.

  • Reading Initiatives — Reading instruction is critical to ensuring that students succeed in all subjects. To expand reading instruction in Florida, the budget request includes $217.4 million, an increase of more than 14 percent over the current year. Of this amount, $137.8 million is funded through the FEFP, adding $26 million in new funding to hire 400 more reading coaches.

  • Community College and Workforce Education Program — Florida faces critical workforce shortages in nursing, education and manufacturing. Through the state’s 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 $428.8 million, a more than 4 percent increase over the current appropriation. This increase consists of $15 million for operational costs for career-technical and adult education programs and $4.6 million in start-up funds for facility and upgrade costs to implement industry certified programs in career-technical education. The budget request for community colleges includes $1.2 billion, a more than 6 percent increase over the current appropriation. As part of these priorities, Governor Crist is also recommending no tuition increases during 2007-2008 for Community College or Workforce Education programs.

  • Student Financial Aid — The budget recommendations include $372 million for the Bright Futures Scholarship Program that rewards high school students for academic achievement. This is a $25.7 million increase – expanding opportunities for an estimated 159,301students.

  • State University Funding — Florida's higher education system is a critical part of ensuring the state’s economic success. To bolster economic development, Governor Crist’s budget recommendations include $3.5 billion to fund state universities, an increase of four percent over the current year. In addition, $80 million is recommended to support the 21st Century World Class Scholars, Centers of Excellence and the Science and Engineering Research and Economic Development programs. These programs will help build the necessary infrastructure and attract leading researchers to make Florida a hub of high-tech innovation. In addition, Governor Crist is recommending no tuition increases during 2007-2008 for resident undergraduates at state universities.

“This robust budget will continue to serve Florida’s students and help them achieve academic success,” said Education Commissioner John L Winn. “I commend Governor Crist for his leadership and commitment to our students.”

For more information about Governor Crist’s budget recommendations, visit www.myflorida.com.