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Press Release

Friday, January 29, 2010

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Governor Crist’s 2010-11 Education Budget Recommendations Provide Essential Support for Florida Schools and Colleges

~ Proposed budget will enable Florida’s schools and colleges to build on past successes ~

TALLAHASSEE – This week, Governor Charlie Crist announced his 2010-11 education budget recommendations that would establish a record $22.7 billion for Florida’s public schools and Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) programs, and $2 billion for The Florida College System. The proposed budget recommendations provide Florida’s schools and colleges with needed support to continue their academic successes and provide every student with a quality education.

“Governor Crist has crafted a budget proposal that clearly recognizes the importance of our education system and makes the success of our students a priority,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “His recommendations propose increases in critical areas such as per-student funding, teacher bonuses, and Florida college funding that will allow us to raise the level of achievement in our learning institutions and continue the phenomenal academic success we have worked so hard to attain.”

Highlights of Governor Crist’s 2010-11 education budget recommendations include:

  • Increases to Per-Student Funding – Under Governor Crist’s recommendations the per-student funding level would be raised by $179 per student. This would bring the average per-student funding level to $7,045, the second highest ever, for Florida’s 2.6 million K-12 school children. This increase would directly support the instructional efforts of the state’s public school system and build on its capacity to provide a quality learning experience for all students.
  • Increases to Teacher Bonuses – A key part of the Governor’s Pre-K-12 budget recommendations center on rewarding Florida’s teachers for the important work they do both in and out of the classroom. The bonuses he recommends include:
    • $57.1 million for awards to teachers who earn national certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The bonus for 2010-11 would equal about $5,000 per eligible teacher.
    • Increases in the School Recognition Program to $100 per student, up from $75, for schools that improve a letter grade or maintain a grade of “A.” The use of these funds is decided locally and typically result in bonuses for the teachers at these schools.
    • Continued funding of the Merit Award Program (MAP) which establishes bonuses for top teachers in participating school districts and charter schools equaling five to ten percent of the district’s average teacher salary.
    • Support for legislation to lift the $2,000 cap on teacher bonuses for student performance on advanced college preparatory exams, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate.
  • Increased Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Funding – Governor Crist has recommended a $44.8 million increase, for a total of $411.9 million, in VPK funding to meet growing demand for the program and ensure Florida’s youngest students are building the necessary foundation for future success. This additional funding would provide support for a total of 152,795 students.
  • Flexible Class Size Implementation – Governor Crist’s recommendations balance the need to keep class sizes low while also providing school districts with the flexibility they need to meet constitutional requirements. To meet this goal he announced plans for legislation that would modify constitutional class-size requirements by calculating class-size compliance at the school level.
  • Funding for Florida’s Colleges – Governor Crist also recommended $2 billion to support the Florida College System. This includes an additional $67 million for increased student enrollment and $9.5 million to maintain bachelor’s degree programs offered by colleges within the Florida College System. The recommended budget provides $6 million in additional funding for the operating costs of new facilities. Governor Crist proposed no tuition increase at community colleges.

“Despite these challenging economic times, it’s clear that Governor Crist is committed to finding ways to support our teachers and schools,” said Commissioner Smith. “Should these recommendations be accepted, I am confident we can continue, and build upon, the excellent work taking place in our learning environments and the outstanding academic progress of our students.”